universal orlando donation

Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, which is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 precautions, has donated truckloads of perishable food items to The Salvation Army.

A recent truckload included apples, oranges, potatoes, and other fresh produce that was distributed to current shelter clients, seniors citizens, and those experiencing hardships due to the impact of the recent outbreak.

“We have been serving the populations most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, the homeless and senior citizens each day. This generous donation means we can serve so many more in need,” says Captain Ken Chapman, Administrator for The Salvation Army serving the Orlando area.

Click here to learn about The Salvation Army’s national response to coronavirus COVID-19.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

preparing meals lakeland

delivering meals in lakelandIn trying times associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools, churches, and community programs across the United States are closed and, as a result, many young people are in search of nourishment to replace missed meals. In Lakeland, Florida, that is certainly the case, and The Salvation Army is stepping into the gap.

While The Salvation Army Lakeland Corps (church) did not have scheduled services on Sunday, March 15 in order to maintain recommended social distancing, members from the church came, as they do each week, to prepare breakfast.

This meal was then delivered to children that depend on it, with three families that regularly attend weekly activities currently living in hotel rooms.

“Knowing that many of our children rely upon school and corps feeding programs, it became apparent that we would need to step in and fill the food gap for a while until the COVID 19 situation improves,” says Major Barry Corbitt, Administrator for The Salvation Army serving the Lakeland area. “We are grateful for caring church members who go the extra mile to care for our kids.”

The Salvation Army plans to continue this service, beginning on Wednesday evening, in an effort to meet human need.

preparing meals lakeland

*NOTE: These resources are currently only being provided to individuals previously enrolled in The Salvation Army’s programs.

Click here to learn about The Salvation Army’s national response to coronavirus COVID-19.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

“Pathway of Hope is the evolution of what The Salvation Army has provided since its creation,” says Cheryl Wilson, Salvation Army case manager.

“The Salvation Army has existed for over 150 years as an organization that serves basic emergency needs. But today, we know that we can address the root causes of what keeps a person in need,” says Wilson. “Transactional provision of food and resources are great, but the change that Pathway of Hope can offer is goal and action-oriented; it’s made to impact this and future generations.”

Wilson gets to know the people she helps and addresses the root causes of what keeps them from achieving stability and self–sufficiency. Housing, childcare, reliable transportation, and gainful employment are all part of a stable living situation. “Every part impacts the others,” explains Wilson. “If your car breaks down or you don’t have someone to watch your kids, you might not be able to work.”

The most common aspect of generational poverty Wilson sees is the lack of basic job skills. But even when those skills are present, there can also be other unavoidable barriers.

“We don’t really say it or even think about it, but when we’re working with young, single mothers in their 20s, the lack of family support is a big cause of multigeneration poverty,” says Wilson. She remembers a client, Dee Dee, who was in nursing school. When her child’s father broke up with Dee Dee, she had nowhere to go.

“Dee Dee is an amazing person, but she didn’t have support. She couldn’t live with her family. Her car had broken down and she had no one to take her to work. She finally came to our food pantry for help,” says Wilson.

The first thing Wilson did was to take Dee Dee’s car in for repairs. While the car was in the shop, Wilson drove her to nursing school. “My children studied medicine, so I know what that training is like. You simply can’t miss those classes,” says Wilson.

Wilson also helped another client, Marquita, a mother of three, get child support from her ex–husband. In addition, Marquita obtained a full–time job, a deposit for an income–based apartment, and child care for her youngest.

“In this job, you see things from the client’s perspective. Even free childcare requires a lot of waiting and paperwork,” says Wilson. She took documents for Marquita to daycare and to family court so she would not miss work. “Some days, you just have to be an advocate,” says Wilson.

Meeting with car mechanics, landlords, and court officials has become part of the job for Wilson. It’s the “hope” in Pathway of Hope: helping clients get ahead by doing what they can’t do for themselves—because they are trying to maintain jobs and other essential aspects of their lives.

“When you’re in a crisis and you don’t know where to turn, take a deep breath, and know that someone has your back at [The Salvation Army],” says Wilson.

by Hugo Bravo


What is Pathway of Hope?

The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative provides individualized services to families with children. These families desire to take action to break the cycle of crisis and vulnerability that repeats generation after generation. The Pathway of Hope’s focus is to seek to address the root causes of poverty while continuing The Salvation Army’s history of compassionate serving. By helping families overcome challenges such as unemployment, unstable housing, and a lack of education, The Salvation Army leads families down a path toward increased stability and self–sufficiency.

Through Pathway of Hope, The Salvation Army introduces families to services that are available within their community. These services offer a network of support, a sense of belonging, holistic programs, and spiritual guidance. Families also receive a connection to job training, health services, childcare and education, housing options, legal services, and much more.

For more information on where The Salvation Army has instituted the Pathway of Hope initiative in Florida, please click here

Original Article

For Ruth, having her 11-year-old granddaughter, Leslie, around on weekends is the highlight of her week. Unfortunately, Ruth is disabled and often has trouble making her social security check cover all of her needs.

After Ruth pays all of her other bills, there’s not much money left over to buy groceries. As a result, Ruth’s cupboards are frequently bare when Leslie comes to stay.

While Ruth doesn’t mind eating day-old bread from the food bank for dinner, she refuses to serve such a meager and unsatisfying meal to her granddaughter. That’s why Ruth was excited to learn that the local Salvation Army serves an evening meal, and to her relief, she doesn’t need to be homeless to come for dinner.

Now, Ruth brings Leslie to The Salvation Army so the two can eat a full, nutritious dinner without placing a strain on Ruth’s already tight finances. Plus, Ruth and Leslie enjoy the companionship and generosity of the other guests and staff, and appreciate how they work to ensure everybody feels comfortable.

“We always leave feeling grateful for the meal and a full stomach,” shares Ruth. “Thank you for all you do, Salvation Army!”

Your donation can help us continue to provide hearty meals for struggling people like Ruth.

With the holiday season approaching and the potential for colder temperatures, a fourth-grade student named Zoey Brown sprang into action.

Zoey, who attends PVPV-Rawlings Elementary School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, was inspired by The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program and, with a bit of help from her family, she created the “Tree of Warmth,” attracting attention from across the Jacksonville area.

Zoey, whose grandmother, Pam Brown, is the sister of Major Candice Biggers, drew her initial inspiration from an otherwise innocuous conversation during a family dinner. Majors Keath and Candice Biggers are the administrators of The Salvation Army’s programs and services in northeast Florida.

“From my understanding, the trigger for this initiative was a conversation we were having during dinner with Pam, her husband, Steve, and their grandchildren,” said Major Keath Biggers.

“We were discussing the Angel Tree, and one of the children, Bronx, began calling it the ‘Homeless Tree’ by mistake. We shared how cool it was that he called it that, and how it would be great if something could come from his ‘mistake.’ Out of the mouths of babes – although he’s in elementary school – came an inspiration that the Brown family took to make a ‘Homeless Tree’ expression into the ‘Tree of Warmth,’ providing clothing accessories to protect against the cold.”

From there, Zoey urged her relatives to help, and the family purchased a Christmas tree, along with gloves, hats, and socks. They used the items to set up the “Tree of Warmth” at The Salvation Army Towers Center of Hope in Jacksonville. Since then, hundreds of winter items have been hung on the tree for shelter residents and homeless individuals to take and use to stay warm during the cold-weather season in the region.

“Several hundred men, women and children have already been recipients of the tree, and it will continue serving during the winter months, especially when the temperature drops those cold nights,” Major Biggers said. “We thank God for Zoey, Bronx and the family making this a reality and a great service to those we serve in Jacksonville.”

Zoey’s family has been a long-time adopter of angels through the Angel Tree program and, with that backdrop of experience and the familial connection, the pathway was clear. Still, the inspiration was centered on improving the lives of others by any possible means.

“Knowing that you truly can make a difference in someone’s life is huge,” said Pam Brown. “I want the children to grow up feeling that way. I want them to know how wonderful it feels to help others. We can’t thank Candy and Keath enough for allowing the children to do this and helping them to get it set up. It really means so much to our family to participate in giving back.”

By: Brad Rowland, original article

Mejean had always loved everything about space, NASA, and technology, but her dream to go to college kept getting postponed.

First, she began a career in law enforcement to help her family with finances, and then she became a mother of two. She always held on to her dream of becoming an engineer and joining NASA, though. She decided to pursue her dream shortly after becoming a mom.

Her family had always been “just okay” living paycheck to paycheck, but after Mejean quit her job to become a full-time student, things became harder for her family. Her husband, Ray, became the sole breadwinner.

Then tragedy struck.

Mejean was hit by a car. Ray quit his job immediately to take care of his wife and tend to her every need. At the time, Mejean was a University of Houston student pursuing a computer engineering degree. The bills began to pile up, and their finances spiraled out of control. They lost everything.

“We didn’t have a car, and we had to depend on the bus to get everywhere,” said Mejean. “At one point, I had to make the decision, am I going to make it to class, or am I going to have enough money to eat?”

Eventually, the family could not pay bills or rent, and the electricity was cut off. They had to move out of the apartment they’d called home for eight years. That is when Mejean did a Google search to find a shelter, and she found The Salvation Army Family Residence. Mejean and her family moved into Family Residence, and things began to come together for the family.

“Everything we needed was there, and I don’t know if I would have had that anywhere else,” explained Mejean. “They talked to us about nutrition, meal planning, finances, and budgeting. I was even seeing a doctor regularly for the first time in 10 years.”

The Salvation Army provided Mejean with a safe space to breathe, self-evaluate and process everything that was happening. When Mejean was ready, The Salvation Army connected her with the United Way who assisted the family with career placement, apartment down payment assistance, and furnishing their first apartment.

“What I remember most about [The Salvation Army] Family Residence is how great they were with my kids. The kids loved their time there. They remember playing guitar with First Baptist Church, playing games, and going on field trips to Cirque du Soleil.”

Mejean was able to go back to school and went on to graduate in summer 2018, with a job waiting for her at NASA. Currently, Mejean is a Linux developer and configuration management analyst for NASA at the Johnson Space Center.

“People think you are brave when you go through things like this, but when you’re actually going through this, you don’t feel brave. When I moved into [The Salvation Army] Family Residence, I was falling into pieces. But, I left Family Residence with resources and an entire village to help my family and me get to where we are now.”

To help us continue to serve people like Mejean, consider making a donation at www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/give.

respite program

Meet Rick and Jane | Rick and Jane experienced financial difficulties which caused them to lose their home and relocate to Florida. While living in a motel, they had a traumatic experience where they were robbed at gunpoint. The thieves took everything Rick and Jane had. After calling the police, they were taken to The Salvation Army’s Day Respite and Resource Center.

The Day Respite Center offers a place for people experiencing homelessness to take a break from being on the streets. Case management is provided to them with the main goal of eliminating the barriers to stable housing.

The Salvation Army case manager met with Rick and Jane to talk through the events that led them there. While participating in the program, they were able to get new social security cards, Florida state ID cards, and clothing vouchers. Their case manager provided them with low-income housing options and connected them with an employment specialist.

The Sheriff’s Office was able to find and return some of their stolen possessions, but their progress took a turn when Rick’s health declined causing him to be hospitalized for a week. Their case manager was there to encourage them not to give up and provide more resources to help them receive permanent housing.

In just a matter of weeks, Rick and Jane were able to find an apartment. They’re both planning to become volunteers with The Salvation Army after they get back on their feet so they can help others facing hard times. Jane still calls their case manager once a week to keep her posted on their progress.

To help The Salvation Army continue helping people in your community like Rick and Jane, please consider giving today.

Pathway of hope family

The Quintana-Arroyo family (husband, wife, and three sons) met The Salvation Army through Emergency Disaster Services after being displaced from Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria, forcing them to relocate to Florida.

The family stayed in The Salvation Army’s Emergency Shelter and learned about the Pathway of Hope Initiative.

Over time, the wife found employment, followed by her husband, who began working at a Salvation Army board member’s construction company.

Through affiliation with a local community partner, the family was gifted a vehicle.

With one son recently graduating high school and another in college, the family has been able to save more than $7,000 and are now in the final stages of purchasing a home.

The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope Initiative has helped the family to become financially stable, increase their credit score, and position themselves to become homeowners.

The Salvation Army provided the necessary tools and services to help this family re-establish their life while working cohesively with community partners toward meeting their goals.

Through the support of donors, The Salvation Army is able to help families like this every day. Your gift today will help The Salvation Army serve families in need in your community.

The Salvation Army Pathway of Hope initiative serves families in need

The family was homeless: Brian was living in a car with the three boys while Hannah was staying elsewhere. There just wasn’t space for all of them to be together. Dealing with ongoing health issues, Brian was unable to work consistently, so Hannah had to be available to look after him and the children. They were without hope and couldn’t see a way out of their situation.

The Salvation Army received a referral for the family from a partner agency, both organizations have been involved with the family ever since.

“The Salvation Army was able to help right away,” Hannah said.

Christy, their Salvation Army case manager, developed a personalized action plan and meets with them regularly. “They were an ideal fit for Pathway of Hope, a nationwide Salvation Army initiative that assists families, ultimately helping them to be self-sufficient,” Christy said.

She helped Brian apply for disability benefits and continues to meet with the family twice each month. “Hannah is working as a bus driver for the school district, securing a steady income and health benefits for the first time. Once they receive disability payments, the family will reach a new level of financial security and be able to plan for the future,” says Christy.

Additionally, the partner ministry continues to provide financial support and a coach, who is like an emotional cheerleader, and also meets with the family regularly.

It’s been really helpful to have people to talk about what is going on in life. I’m not used to that kind of support network,” Hannah said. “I feel like there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m learning to deal with stress and pressure in a completely new way.

“We’re living paycheck to paycheck, but that’s OK. I’m hoping we will soon have a little money left in our account at the end of each month,” she said. “I want to eventually take the kids on vacation and do stuff other people do. For now, we’re paying the bills and have a roof over our heads.”

Hannah said she is grateful for The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program. “They helped pick us up and kept us working toward our goals,” she said. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to The Salvation Army for being there for us.”

Find out more information The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative HERE.

To help The Salvation Army continue to serve families in need in your community, GIVE TODAY.

ray kinder hope for the future

 

Love and acceptance helps Florida man reconnect with hope

Just a few months ago, Ray Kinder could not imagine being clean, being out of jail, being hopeful. When you look at him today, you could not, for one minute, imagine him being anything but.

Ray grew up in a church-going family, but all was not right. His father was a career criminal, coming and going from prison. When his father was not in jail, he was abusing his mother and modeling the alcoholic lifestyle. He eventually ended up with a life sentence for armed robbery. People would speak over Ray that he would be just like his dad. It had its effects.

Ray was in juvenile detention 12 times. He got addicted to drugs in middle school and continued to make bad choices for the next two and a half decades. Kinder was in jail, some maximum-security ones, 23 times. Each jail time was just a pause from his crack addiction, and the pause button would be reset when he got out.

“My reality was too hard to take,” he said. “I knew how much pain I was causing my mom, my family. It just pushed me deeper into addiction. It was the loneliest, most isolating, tumultuous nightmare. I was just a zombie that didn’t care about anything. I stepped off the cliff into hopelessness.”

Last year, while out on bond, Ray went to visit his aunt. He was totally out of his mind, high and incoherent. His aunt called the police, who took him to a local addiction recovery program. While there, he learned of The Salvation Army. He was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and he was willing to give The Salvation Army a try.

When Ryan from The Salvation Army, came to pick him up a few days later, Kinder’s brain told him not to get on the bus. He said something, maybe God, pushed him to get on the bus.

Ryan told him everything was going to be OK, this was a new beginning for him, and he was going to find his purpose and a plan. Ryan was his first exposure to the love and acceptance that he was about to receive.

During December, Ray volunteered to help pick up Angel Tree gifts and said he “overdosed on the love” that was shown to him at each location. He also realized that at The Salvation Army, he was surrounded by people who truly understood him and his addiction. He was also among other people who were just like him. He “was not as unique as (he) thought. They showed me there was a way out I could never see before. There is a reason they call this the Center of Hope; I do have hope now.”

Kinder is taking things one day at a time. He remarked that “The Salvation Army gave me my hope back; it saved my life. If God can do this for someone like me, he can do this for anyone.” Kinder is protective of the “precious and valuable gift he has been given and is not going to give it up.”

The biggest challenge for Ray now is employment. He will commence soon and is praying someone will give him a chance.

His advice in the meantime for others like him: “If you think for one second that your life is gone and you’ve tried everything else in life, but it never worked for you, there is a place, and the name of this place is The Salvation Army. If you are truly ready to live, give this place a try.”