(Miami, FL) (August 4, 2022) –  With its “Lunch and Love” program, the Salvation Army Miami is providing love and meals to those in need on Miami’s streets.

In an effort to replicate the same impact made at Miami Area Command to the surrounding community, Lunch and Love was developed by David Jenett, Case Worker and Emergency Disaster Services Coordinator. With the use of the FedEx Cares EDS Canteen (pictured above), David and his team were able to serve 150 meals and 50 snack packs to the homeless that are located within the Government Center and North Miami area of Miami-Dade.

David had one thought in mind: it’s necessary and it’s impactful, “Not everyone is able to migrate to our corps so why not bring the assistance to them? We have a Canteen that can go a long way and a team that can stretch the effort even more.” Despite the rainy conditions, the team dedicated nearly four hours of service, with the assistance of Terrance McCray and Susi Goihman.

They even had a helper! When the team needed to draw the meal recipients to one location, an individual on a bike (who is also homeless) rode around the area and alerted everyone else to the free lunch being served. A day filled with love, service, and gratitude would not have been possible without David, Terrance, and Susi’s dedication, their efforts were a big success.

The program will take place once a month throughout Miami-Dade, with the goal of becoming a regular service. The team hopes to make Lunch and Love a bi-weekly effort.

The life-threatening temperatures currently impacting approximately 35 million Americans signal the continuation of what experts predicted to be a “hotter-than-usual” summer.

Extreme heat is deadlier than hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods annually, with almost 1,600 people dying last year in the United States. In some areas, unsheltered individuals account for nearly half of these deaths. Communities in nearly every part of the country are under heat advisories following unseasonably intense spikes in temperature. Unsheltered individuals in these areas face dehydration, sunburn, heat stroke, and infections from sweat-soaked clothing that go unwashed.

 Because of the generous support of our donors, The Salvation Army is able to offer heat relief at many of our 7,200 locations across the country, which can be lifesaving in many situations.

 Examples of some of The Salvation Army’s services across the country include:

  • Omaha, NE: As temperatures are expected to skyrocket, The Salvation Army of Omaha has activated cooling centers and a summer fan program to help people stay cool and avoid heat-related illness.
  • Tucson, AZ: Salvation Army volunteers passed out ice cold water, umbrellas, sunscreen and other essentials to survive the summer heat.
  • Denver, CO: The Crossroads and Lambuth Family Center are providing a number of resources in the Denver metro area including shelters to keep people hydrated and covered.
  • Wichita, KS: In addition to opening a cooling center for unsheltered individuals, The Salvation Army has also donated fans to Sedgwick County.
  • Lubbock, TX: For those who don’t have access to adequate air conditioning, The Salvation Army is opening a cooling station in Lubbock. It will serve water, popsicles, and ice cream and provide water-based games for the children in the shelter.
  • New York City, NY: Eight cooling centers are being launched in several neighborhoods including Tremont in the Bronx and Times Square to provide relief from the heat.

Across the country, The Salvation Army is opening cooling centers for those who need water and shade, as well as providing utility support for the elderly or other vulnerable individuals in affected communities.

The best way to support these efforts is by making a financial contribution, which allows The Salvation Army to meet immediate and long-term needs. To learn more about The Salvation Army’s response, visit salvationarmyusa.org.

To learn more about staying safe in extreme heat, click here.

Those who are able to donate can do so through a variety of convenient and safe methods:

  • Visit HelpSalvationArmy.org
  • Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Make a contribution through Amazon Alexa by saying, “Alexa, make a donation to The Salvation Army”

Alicia, a full-time candy store employee and mother of four, had her hours cut drastically when COVID-19 struck the U.S., causing her to fall $2,000 behind on her rent. With no other options left, Alicia turned to The Salvation Army. Alicia received $1,000 to help with rent, and she was able to pay the other $1,000. The Salvation Army also helped her with food assistance to further ease the financial burden.

“This helped me out a lot,” Alicia said. “Without The Salvation Army, I don’t think we would be able to continue to stay in this house that we’re in now. Anyone looking for help – The Salvation Army is your best bet. They work with you, and when they say they’re willing to help you, they follow up, step by step.”

Alicia is now back to work full-time and is continuing to work with The Salvation Army to earn her GED and high school diploma.

break the cycle of povertyAfter a challenging and tumultuous period in her life, Crystal checked in to The Salvation Army’s family shelter at the Community of Hope in Lakeland, Florida. Upon arrival, her central goal was to build a stable home for herself and three children, especially after a recent eviction.

Just a few weeks into Crystal’s maximum 90-day stay in the family shelter, she enrolled in the Pathway of Hope program and quickly secured a job at a local restaurant. From there, Crystal opened a bank account to embark on her plan to save money in order to transition out of the shelter and into stable, secure housing.

“We could tell right away that Crystal was ready for change, and that is really what Pathway of Hope is all about,” said Cristina Coulson, Social Services Program Coordinator. “She was really ready to break the cycle of poverty that she had been experiencing for years, and to do it for her children. The program was a great fit for her, and everything worked well, in part because she was so on board with being held accountable.”

With visible and clear motivation to improve her circumstances, Crystal continued to progress. Eventually, she signed a lease on a house, with The Salvation Army providing some financial assistance and Crystal contributing in a significant manner from money saved through her new employment. Ultimately, Crystal’s housing situation is now secure, with her dwelling fully furnished and comfortable for herself and her school-aged children.

Crystal remains active in the Pathway of Hope initiative, including weekly case management meetings with Coulson to help her navigate the coming days and months. Crystal also plans to continue her education by pursuing her GED, and she aims to secure a driver’s license. Her journey continues with an eye toward a better future, and her story stands as an illustration of what hard work and persistence can bring.

“Pathway of Hope works because it is a partnership between the case manager and the client,” Coulson said. “We purposefully work at the client’s pace, meeting them where they are. I think Crystal’s story is really a perfect reminder that, through Pathway of Hope, we can really break the cycle of poverty for people that have faced hardships for large portions of their life. I think she’s a shining example of someone who really wanted to put in the work, and we were able to come alongside her in the journey.”

Find out more about The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope Initiative.

By: Brad Rowland

61-year-old Ronnie Samuel felt as though his problems were piling on top of each other and that his life was too much to bear. After taking time off work as a security guard while he recovered from kidney transplant surgery, he tested positive for COVID-19. During his recovery, bills began to stack up, reaching a total of $4,000.

That’s when Ronnie turned to The Salvation Army, where he was assured that everything would be alright. He explained his experience working with his caseworker, “She was very professional. She was helpful. The Salvation Army grabs you and pulls you back in. It was a huge help to me. It was awesome. I just want to thank them so much.”

The Salvation Army is continuing to work with Ronnie to help ease his burdens.

During the darkest times of the pandemic, Amy was driving back from the grocery store with a car full of food and supplies for her and her family when she spotted a line of people waiting for food at The Salvation Army. She called the location and learned how many people were out of work and in need of basic resources.

“It broke my heart,” Amy explained. “I live a mile down the road, and these are our neighbors. There had to be something we could do.”

Amy organized a massive community food drive and brought the food to her local Salvation Army food bank.

“This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for being able to contribute to The Salvation Army’s work.”

For 26 years, Leslie Marthone passionately worked as a licensed practical nurse in a bustling city. One of her greatest joys was helping to shepherd new lives into the world and ensuring the health and safety of expectant mothers.

After a rewarding and challenging career, Leslie retired her stethoscope. She and her family decided to forego the hustle of city life in exchange for a quieter, slower, and easier pace in the country. Little did she know that just one year later, right around Thanksgiving no less, she and her kids would be homeless.

“I had never been in a position that vulnerable before,” Leslie says. “We were being evicted from our home and had nowhere to go. Every agency in town turned me away—except The Salvation Army.

“Being homeless humbled me more than I ever thought possible,” Leslie says, choking up. “At The [Salvation] Army, I was welcomed with big, warm, open arms. I was impressed with how the knowledgeable staff found available services in [my area]. This is a very needed and useful program.”

Today, you can find Leslie volunteering five days a week as an administrative assistant at The Salvation Army’s shelter. She does whatever is needed. She answers phones and uses her 26 years of nursing experience to educate and empower the shelter’s residents.

“First and foremost, I have to give back to show my appreciation to The Salvation Army,” Leslie says, smiling. “They not only helped me get back on my feet, but treated me with dignity, respect, and compassion. They’re all very special. Just lovely.

“I also like to feel needed. It makes me feel good to help people. Plus, (she continues with a wink) it gives me something to do.”

Shelter Program Director Cymanda Robinson said, “I will always remember the day Leslie came through that front door. I could tell she was tired, overwhelmed, and just feeling hopeless. I told her ‘to just breathe.’”

Leslie entered the shelter program just after Thanksgiving and was placed into permanent housing the next March.

“We helped give Leslie guidance and made those connections for her,” a beaming Cymanda said. “She did the rest. She just hit the ground running. Nothing was going to stop her.”

Leslie said she would like to change people’s preconceived notions about the homeless.

“Everyone has a picture in their head of a homeless person,” Leslie says. “We see the pictures and videos that the media shows of the homeless. But I want everyone to look at me. Do I look homeless? No, but I am the face of homelessness. This is the face people need to see.

“It’s the same for mental illness. We see pictures of people’s behavior, screaming, and yelling. Not everyone who struggles with mental illness displays those characteristics. Our society needs to stop putting people in a box. We are all in the same place, just one step away from homelessness. Everyone has a story and most importantly, one should not be judged.”

by Cari Friend

Original Article

Like a battering ram dropped on a skyscraper, the coronavirus smashed through seemingly solid structures that supported our way of life and our self-understanding. The body politic struggled to grasp the nature of the problem and workable solutions. The world’s economic underpinnings became unmoored. What we took for granted—from stocked supermarkets to ready access to family, friends, community, work, and entertainment—were held in the balance. Pain and loss became acute for those who contracted COVID-19. Frustration, anger, and grief hit home for those trying valiantly to care for them and for those who saw loved ones, associates and neighbors die.

This shaking of the foundations ushered in questions about who we are and how we define ourselves. Questions about life’s unfairness lingered around us. Exposed to an unknown future, one that experts say will change the way we live, we came face-to-face with our own material and spiritual resources, with our need to persevere, with our need to overcome despair with hope, with our need for each other, with our need for that which fights against any scourge or curse with the light of love and the promise of a new life. How ironic that this pandemic gained momentum during the season of Lent leading up to Easter.

Amid the fallout and confusion, something resilient has emerged. It is the same Spirit that has guided humanity through historic periods of struggle and threat. It is the same Spirit that compels The Salvation Army to respond to this and every and any crisis, circumstance or soul-threatening reality with practical service and straightforward compassion. It is the Spirit of the God who loves all and who invites all to have His saving, redeeming, forgiving, merciful, righteous, eternal nature lived out through them.

That is the bedrock of character emerging from this latest challenge to our transcendent identity as God’s creation. Moving forward together in the Spirit of Jesus, who took upon Himself our shortcomings so that we may know His eternal nature in the here and now, makes for an unshakable foundation.

What is left now that this pandemic has altered the trajectory of individuals, families, communities, nations and the world? What’s left is the essence that outlives any tragedy, any disfigurement of the person, any death, any loneliness or any grief. And it accomplishes this through the care and concern each extends to others, just as God extends His essence to us.

In talking about how The Salvation Army is helping others come through this pandemic by reaching out to those with the greatest need without discrimination, Commissioner David Hudson said, “We will overcome this, but we need to do it in a way that honors God.”

With that in mind, how can each of us come through? One way is to rediscover our true identity by “being transformed by the renewing of your mind…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (Romans 12:2, 21 Galatians 5:22, 25).

How to Help

While we shelter in place and practice social distancing, there are practical ways to support The Salvation Army’s concerted efforts to meet human needs during this crisis. There are four things of critical importance:

  1. Non-perishable food items. The Salvation Army is supplying food and water in many locations around the country. The need ranges from children cut off from school meals to emergency disaster workers and the unemployed and indigent.
  2. Hygiene items. The demand for these products remains high.
  3. Monetary donations. The Salvation Army is stretching its resources to meet needs at the point of need. Donations given online are routed to the locality where the donation originated. Local Salvation Army units can also be contacted for any donation items.
  4. Volunteers. Lend a helping hand. There are many ways to help The Salvation Army as local officers find essential ways to serve their communities as they assess needs and go where needed.

The post Coming Through appeared first on War Cry.

From General Evangeline Booth’s 1934 address:

It is the yearning and passionate desire of my soul, that at this time, when the world is ripped by hatred, fearful of wars and revolutions, and cast down by depressions, that The Salvation Army shall go forth, again and again, holding up the compassionate Christ of the Cross, whose alone we are. And that there shall be no hesitancy because of hard obstacles, but courageous, and fearless, with our trust in Him, we shall hold Him up, to the people of the world, of whom he shall draw all men unto Him.

Click here to learn more about General Evangeline Booth. 

I am one of four children. My mother is a recovering alcoholic and my father struggles with a heroin addiction. I know they both love me. However, their problems created what I can only describe as a destructive lifestyle. As a result, our family has been spiritually and emotionally devastated.

From as early as I can remember, we were evicted from apartment after apartment. At age 15, I started working to help pay the rent and other bills so our home could have some semblance of stability and security. Eventually, we moved into a house.

That house was the first time we were able to plant some roots, so all things considered, it was a happy time in my life. I had school friends and even a crush on Carly, a girl who lived a couple of houses down the road.

Evicted again

But just like always, that stability and happy time was short-lived. My father started to secretly keep our rent money to support his addiction; the same destructive cycle raised its ugly head again.

In time, all our utilities were cut off and we received yet another eviction notice. Having no money and nowhere else to go, my father broke into the basement of the house so we could have a place to sleep.

As we slept one night, we heard a knock on the door. It was a police officer. He immediately escorted us out of the house; he forced us to leave behind everything that we owned. I left little of real financial value, but a lot of sentimental items from my childhood. Later, I found them in a dumpster—broken and destroyed.

When I reflect on that night we were evicted, I remember something else the officer did. He paid for a hotel room and a pizza so we could eat and stay together. In the midst of the most demoralizing night of my life, his amazing act of selflessness would later impress me greatly.

At the time the officer evicted us, I viewed him as someone who was destroying our lives. But when I became a man, I began to see his selfless act of compassion as something that dramatically redirected the course of my life.

I am forever grateful for the kindness that officer showed my family. I can only assume that he was also the person who gave my dad contact information for The Salvation Army Family Caring Center because that’s where we found ourselves the next day.

Food to eat, a place to sleep

To be completely honest, I hated the circumstances that found us living in a homeless shelter. Back then, it was easy for me to feel ashamed and victimized. Now as an adult, I see what my child’s eyes missed; thanks to The Salvation Army, I had food to eat. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Much to my surprise, the food tasted good and the meals were hot. I had a sense of security knowing that the constant threat of eviction was behind us. Rather than dread people knocking on the door, I looked forward to it.

Someone else held my father accountable for his behavior, which lifted a huge burden off my young shoulders. I was able to see the benefit of a structured schedule. Our lifestyle shifted completely from the chaos that I knew.

Something else that seemed small at the time but impacted me later were all the trips The Salvation Army provided. I went to baseball games, museums, and parks. These outings allowed me to be a child; something I so desperately needed.

For sure, the biggest blessings The Salvation Army gave my family were renewed relationships with each other. Without the Family Caring Center, we would have surely been put into foster care. I can only imagine the inevitable cycle and rift of separation that would have taken place among us all. But because of The Salvation Army, my father received helpful resources for housing. This helped us remain the strong siblings we are today.

Sharing our story

At present, my wife and I have recently started sponsoring monthly birthday parties for the children at the Family Caring Center. Throughout the past three months, we’ve had the privilege of getting to know and seeing firsthand what an amazing job Envoy John Barnett, his wife Envoy Nancy Barnett, and all the staff are doing at the center. The amount of compassion and heart they have for each family who enters the building is truly remarkable.

We continue to share with parents and children our personal testimonies of how God transformed our lives. In life, everyone is faced with mountains, giants, and storms. Actual trials and circumstances will look different, but the One who brings us victory over them remains the same.

I stand here today because of the grace of God and my faith in Jesus. God used what I once saw as the most devastating and terrible times in my life, to save, strengthen, and bless me more than I could have imagined.

My story is just a tiny paragraph in a giant book full of testimonies that tell how God uses The Salvation Army to shine a light on people who are living in spiritual darkness. I give all glory and honor to God. It is only by His grace that my eyes were opened.

Unconditional love

I also thank Carly, the girl who lived down the road from me when I was 15. Although we lost touch with one another when I went into the shelter, we later reconnected in our 20s. Today, I am honored to call her my wife. She has stood by my side through the worst storms and when circumstances seem impossible. Her love is truly unconditional.

Then there are my children, Elijah and Isaac. Because of them, I am reminded daily to be a better man. I know they are looking to me to lead them.

And finally, I thank The Salvation Army Family Caring Center for giving my childhood family the help, resources, and opportunity to stay together during hard times.

by Josh Linder

Original Article