Jerome had been looking for a exit plan to end his life of drugs, alcohol and hopelessness.

Addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol for more than 30 years, he made a decision to change his life. Jerome entered the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Tampa in 2014 and spent the year rebuilding his life.
Jerome was able to end his years of drug and alcohol abuse with the help of the ARC. But he realized quickly upon his completion of the program that he was not ready to face his new world.

“Problem was I didn’t make an exit plan. I didn’t want to let them know that I didn’t do my homework and figure things out,” Jerome said.

The night Jerome left the ARC was cold. He had no plan, no one to call and nowhere to go. After two nights on the streets, he decided it was time to go back to The Salvation Army, to see if they could help him for good.
“I really didn’t like myself at all. I didn’t like the end product of sobriety at all.”

Throughout the time Jerome was on the streets, he didn’t go back to drugs and alcohol. The tough part would be overcoming his internal struggles and finding stable employment.

“I was scared to death. I couldn’t look someone in the eye and say ‘hire me.’”
“How could they hire me when I would not hire me?”

Jerome was able to enter The Salvation Army in Tampa’s Homeless Transition Program, a 45-day program designed to provide job training and housing resources to the homeless.
“I am a resource person, so I looked out for all the resources I could find.”

Though Jerome was able to find work, his anxiety and self-esteem kept him stuck. Little-by-little he began to apply the advice and love given to him by the case managers at The Salvation Army.

“I have a really bad anxiety issue. I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror at the time.”
“The case managers at The Salvation Army did something I couldn’t do for myself: They believed in me. “


“Ladies, the financial literacy class is going to start at 9 (a.m.),” is the first sentence Susan speaks in the P.A. system starting her work day as the Housing Monitor at the Hospitality House, The Salvation Army in Tampa’s women’s transitional facility.

The 52-year-old native Floridian, who spent most of her youth in Tampa, has only worked at The Salvation Army since January, but she is glad to find a place to finally call home.

Susan was raised in a very conservative household. Her father was a pastor who traveled throughout the state whenever he received a new clergy position. So from a young age Susan understood right from wrong and tried to stay on that path each day.

“I couldn’t do things that other kids could do growing up, like dances and movies,” she said.

Susan went to the University of Central Florida after high school and eventually got married and started her family in Orlando. However, a divorce would leave her single and caring for a little girl alone. So she quit college to work a full-time job and take care of her daughter.

Now with two daughters, 21 and 6 years old, Susan life had become a steady pace of family and work, until two years ago when she reconnected with a high school sweetheart from Tampa.

After a year-long courtship, the two were engaged and were living in Tampa to start their new family. However, during their engagement Susan’s new fiancé cheated, forcing her to leave the home they shared to find a new job and home.

“I left the home I stayed with him and his parents. I had savings, but it was all used it to support me and my kids in an Extended Stay for a month,” Susan said.

“It was nearly 1,000 a month.”

Susan tried to find apartments in Tampa, but she could not qualify because she either didn’t make enough money or didn’t have suitable rental references or history.

Susan was able to briefly stay with a church friend, but couldn’t stay long because the rental facility didn’t allow subleasing.

She was now back to square one. No money and no home.

At this point Susan only had money for a three-night stay at a hotel for her and her daughters.

“The place I stayed in was so filthy and was filled with roaches, she said.

“I had to go buy a piece of plastic from The Dollar Store to put on the bed so my kids had somewhere to sleep. It was the weekend and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I decided to take my kids to the $5 a day at Lowery Park Zoo and accept the realization that me and my kids would have nowhere to live on Monday.”

Susan spent that Monday driving around Tampa to look for a place to stay.  She checked various shelters throughout the city, like Metropolitan Ministries, but they all gave her an appointment to come back in three weeks.

“I understand now what people say. You need help now,” she said. “When people come in at The Salvation Army and what to do things, it rings more true to me now.”

Susan continued to drive and pray that day hoping she could find anything.  Susan didn’t know what to do. But as she was a driving a familiar sign stopped her in her tracks.

“I remember driving down and seeing The Salvation Army sign on top of the building here on Florida Ave, so I stopped and came in here,” she said. “Literally, within an hour, I did intake and had a place to stay. That day I could pick up my daughter and bring her to a place where we would be able to sleep.”

Just six months at our women’s transitional facility, Susan went back to college and started working part time at The Salvation Army in Tampa.

“At first I was like is this how I am supposed to end up. I thought I was doing the right thing and living my life the right way,” she said.

“I learned a lot by working here. I can truly say that God has a plan for you. You just have to keep trusting and believing.”










Over the past 32 years  Kevin’s life had become a continuous cycle of taking drugs, and wild friendships and relationships

Kevin began his life of drugs at age 14, and by age 16 was already addicted to alcohol, marijuana and heroin.

And in 2014 he found himself homeless living in a metal shed, jobless and hopeless.

“I asked God if he could help me one more time, and he did.”

Though he was raised by loving Christian parents and grandparents, he couldn’t stay away from a dangerous lifestyle filled with drugs and alcohol.

For many years Kevin was still able to keep a good-paying job, which helped fuel his drug-induced lifestyle.

“I was really about that life. Then it all came tumbling down,” Kevin said.

After a failed suicide attempt, he went to Springbrook Psychiatric Hospital in Brooksville, Florida. A social worker there then suggested he go to the Red Shield Lodge at The Salvation Army in Tampa/Hillsborough County.

Counselors from the Red Shield Lodge told him about the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Tampa, which became the turning point of Kevin’s life.

“When I walked into the ARC, I was totally broken down with just the clothes on his back. They started off by giving me clothes, food and structure. Then the ARC gave me a safe environment and helped me get back on track,” he said.

Kevin started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while at The ARC. He worked the 12 steps on alcoholics anonymous with his counselor from the ARC and regained his life for the first time in 32 years without drugs or alcohol. He was at the ARC for six months.

Kevin loves the way his life is now. His family is talking to him again. Friends have circled back into his life. And he is living happy, joyous and free. He even volunteers in the kitchen at The Salvation Army in Tampa to give back.

“The ARC saved my life.”

Sponsors and players can win $5,000, and have a chance to drive away in a new car
at annual golf tournament to help men, women and children in need in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. – (May 4, 2015)  $5,000 is up for grabs, May 4, for any person participating at this year’s annual Red Shield Classic Golf Tournament at Hunter’s Green Country Club, 18101 Longwater Run Drive, Tampa. Sponsors and players will not only be able to win cash, but will also have a chance to take home a new mid-size vehicle, as well as five lucky winners will play to give 1 million back to The Salvation Army.

The 3rd annual Red Shield Classic golf tournament plans to be a day of fun and lots of prizes. Throughout the day golfers will be able to play several contests including hole-in-one, putting, longest drive, closest to the pin and a 1M Cash Shoot Out. Sponsorship packages begin at $1,000. Sponsor fee includes green fees and cart, range balls, tee gifts, entrance to all hole-in-one contests, lunch and Awards Dinner. Tee sponsorships are $200; individual players can play for $150.

Registration opens at 9 a.m. and Shotgun Start begins at 11:30 a.m. ABC Action News Meteorologist Wayne Shattuck will be Master of Ceremonies for the event. All proceeds go to support men, women and children in need in the Tampa area. For more information on the 3rd Annual Red Shield Classic Golf Tournament, please go to or call (813) 549-0635.

Media Contact: 

Wonetha Hall
Salvation Army Tampa Command

Birthday event to highlight importance of growing food locally and celebrates Earth Day

TAMPA, Fla. – (April 25, 2015)  The Sustainable Living Project (SLP) is a partnership garden between The Salvation Army and Tampa Bay Harvest (TBH), a nonprofit agency that works to end hunger in Tampa Bay Area.  Nearly 80 percent of the harvest supports the feeding program run by The Salvation Army in Tampa, or goes directly to families in the community who need fresh produce. The remaining produce goes to The Well and Meals On Wheels programs and volunteers. The garden is a way of giving back to the community, and has produced about 1,000 pounds of vegetables from 14 beds. The garden is open to the community and provides volunteer opportunities, educational classes, and a chance to sponsor a garden bed. The SLP allows the community to learn more about how they can affect change by recycling, becoming more sustainable in everyday life, and inspiring youth through experimental learning. To volunteer in our garden, contact Alan Lowery at (813) 226-0055 ext. 210. For more information on The Sustainable Living Project, go to or

Who: The Salvation Army and Tampa Bay Harvest

What: The Salvation Army and Sustainable Living Project’s Earth Day Birthday Event

When: April 25th from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where:  The Sustainable Living Project, 918 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa Fla. 33604

Why: The Salvation Army and Tampa Bay Harvest is celebrating the 2nd anniversary of The Sustainable Living Project. The project founded by the Tampa Bay Harvest will observe Earth Day by teaching the importance of sustainability in the local community.  The free event will teach participants about growing food in their local community and how to start a sustainable lifestyle. The Sustainable Living Project uses state of the art technology and fully sustainable methods for organic gardening. The event will feature an organic gardening workshop, cooking class, yoga class and more. We will have food and fun for the whole family.

Media Contact:
Wonetha Hall
Salvation Army Tampa Command

medina turnerTAMPA, Fla. — Medina Turner, a former University of Georgia basketball athlete, has been named as the first recipient of the NCAA Perseverance Award.

The Perseverance Award honors a student-athlete, coach or administrator from the host city of the Women’s Final Four who, when confronted with a life-altering situation, pushed past the obstacles and showed determination to succeed. Turner was presented with the award Sunday evening during the Women’s Final Four at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Turner’s journey began at the University of Georgia playing under women’s basketball coach Andy Landers. In her senior year, Turner was the team leader in rebounds with an average of 7.9 per game and was the second leading scorer. She led the Lady Bulldogs to the championship game of the 1993 Southeastern Conference women’s basketball tournament and to the round of 32 in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship that same year.

Turner left Georgia before finishing her degree to pursue a professional basketball career overseas. Three years later, she made the decision to retire from the sport and move to Tampa, Florida, to care for her sister, Gloria Rene Turner, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Gloria lost her battle with the disease in 2001, leaving behind two boys that Medina adopted and became their legal guardian. Shortly after the loss of her sister, Medina’s father, Robert Turner, fell ill and succumbed to liver cancer. A few years later, she fell on hard times and her home went into foreclosure, forcing the family to become homeless.

Turner arrived at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa in 2013 to get back on the right track. Since then, she has joined Uplift U, a residential program designed to help homeless families and women become more self-sufficient. She was also accepted to the University of Florida’s Social Work program and is on track to graduate in 2016. Having saved enough money to become self-sufficient again, Turner and her two sons will move out of Metropolitan Ministries and into a home of their own in April.

We would like to congratulate Medina Turner, Salvation Army in Hillsborough County employee and former basketball star, for receiving the NCAA Perseverance Award during the Women’s Final Four game. We appreciate all her hard work! Read her article from the Tampa Tribune about her journey.…/you-get-up-and-keep-going-ex-college-star…/


More than a dozen students from the University of Tennessee came to Tampa, March 15-21, looking for ways to help abused and abandoned animals. Though their primary reason for the week was to serve rescued animals during their spring break, the students discovered another mission that also touched their hearts.

“We called 40 housing sites in the area to see if anyone would let us sleep for the week while we helped in different animal shelters in the area, and everyone turned us down. The Salvation Army was the only place that would give us a place to stay. Major Leisa Hall was so nice to us,” said Matthew Klein, a junior nutrition student at The University of Tennessee.

The students also volunteered their time at The Salvation Army in Tampa . They cooked and cleaned for the nearly 250 residents staying in our facility each night.

“It was amazing being able to cook for nearly 1,500 people during the week. I was so happy to help,” Klein said.

This was Klein’s first Alternative Spring Break while at the university, but says he would do it again — for the animals and residents at The Salvation Army in Tampa.

Condreana Rymer, an animal science sophomore, enjoyed being a part of helping rescued animals in Tampa and those in need in our shelters.

“It was great seeing everyone (residents) happy that we were here, and it was great making a positive impact on the animals and the people living here,” Rymer said.

For Chelsea DeBlock, the experience was different than what she expected.

“The rooms were bigger than what I expected, we got full  kitchen range, and the staff members were so kind,” said DeBlock, an animal science freshmen. “It was great hearing the stories of the women in the transitional housing. Their stories were inspiring. I had a good time and made great friendships. I hope to come back again.





19f9987When I first heard about the Salvation Army, I instantly thought of their thrift stores and emergency shelters. After my first day of orientation as an intern at the Salvation Army of Tampa, I was amazed by all of the services they have to offer. What I didn’t know about the Salvation Army of Tampa is their Hospitality House. The Hospitality House is a woman’s transitional housing program for homeless women and children. It is a six-month up to two-year program  used to help individuals and families make a transition from homelessness to independent living.  In the Hospitality Housing there are about 50 beds that are sectioned off for single women and women with children. During the program, the residents are given resources and guidance to help them reach their goal into independent living. The Salvation Army provides them with case management, counseling, budgeting and parenting classes, and many other resources.   My first two days at the Salvation Army, I was training with the Housing Monitor. The Housing monitor usually interacts with the residents the most throughout the day. I’ve met extraordinary women and watched them be each other’s support system.  Most of the women there have part-time or full-time jobs to support themselves. I’ve seen some who have been going to job interviews and working on their resumes in order to reach their next step. It’s honestly a rewarding feeling, to know that I’m with an organization that contributes to the growth and overall well-being of people.  They truly embrace the mission of The Salvation Army in Hillsborough County to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity.

Manika Dulcio, University of South Florida student

OutREACH and AfterCARE Training

February 18th-21th 2015

Wednesday, February 18th – The Salvation Army Tampa Area Command

8:00 – 8:30 AM Check In
8:30 – 9:00 Prayer &Introductions
Major Leisa Hall, Associate Area Commander
9:00 – 9:30 Overview of Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries Model
9:30 -11:30 *Human Trafficking & the Traffickers and Facilitators
Module 1 & 2 / Detective James McBride, F.B.I. Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force Against Human Trafficking
11:30 – 11:45 Break
11:45 – 12:15 *Who are the Victims?
Module 3/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
12:15 – 1:15 PM Lunch
1:15 – 2:00 *Bias & Prejudice
Module 4/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
2:00 – 2:15 Break
2:15 – 3:45 *Mental Health Challenges
Module 5/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
3:45 – 4:30 Sign Equine Releases, Reflections, Questions, Overview

Thursday, February 19th – The Salvation Army Tampa Area Command

8:30 – 8:45 AM Greetings
8:45 – 10:45 Strip Club OutREACH
Module 6/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:00 PM Building Your Team
Module 7/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch
1:00 – 2:30 *AfterCARE
Module 8/ Tajuan McCarty, B.S.W., M.P.A., M.P.H.
Founder – The Well House
Birmingham, AL
2:30 – 4:00 Community Engagement
Module 9/ Alex Oliveres, M.S.,
HT Regional Resource Coordinator at Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, FL
4:00 – 4:30 TSA Tampa Area Command Programs & Services

Friday, February 20th – The Salvation Army Tampa Area Command

8:30 – 8:45 AM Greetings
8:45 – 10:15 Public Information
Module 10/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
10:15 – 10:30 Break
10:30 – 12:30 *Boundaries
Module 11/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
12:30 -1:30 PM Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 *Self-Care of AfterCARE Workers
Module 12/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
2:30 – 2:45 Break
2:45 – 4:15 Mentoring
Module 13/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
4:15 – 4:45 Pt. 1– Equine Assisted Psychotherapy & Learning
Module 14/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
(In Classroom)

Saturday, February21st – ADDRESS TO BE ANNOUNCED

9:00 – 9:15 AM Greetings
Equine Facility
9:15 – 11:30 Pt. 2 – Equine Assisted Psychotherapy & Learning Demonstration
Module 14/ Julie Shematz, M.A.
11:30 – 12:00 Closing

womensaux4Annual event raises funds to support programs giving to those in need in Tampa

TAMPA, FLA. (March 27, 2015) ­ —  The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary is excited to host its 22nd Annual Fashion Show Luncheon & Silent Auction on Friday, March 27, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Double Tree Hotel, located at 4500 West Cypress Street in Tampa. Veteran WFLA-TV news anchor Gayle Sierens will be the Mistress of Ceremonies and Lauren Dungy, wife of Super Bowl-winning and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, to be a featured special guest.

The show will feature fashions from Tampa boutiques and The Salvation Army Family Stores. The silent auction, featuring items from local retailers and boutiques, begins at 11 a.m. The luncheon and fashion show begins at noon.  All funds raised help support all of The Salvation Army’s services in Hillsborough County such as housing programs for area families in emergency crisis, nursing home visitations and youth camp.

Table sponsorships begin at $550. Patron tickets are $110.00. Individual tickets are $55.00. For more information on the event, please contact Laura Ferrell at 813-226-0055 x372, or go online at

Event organizers include:
Auxiliary President and Event Co-Chair:        Abigail Dougherty
Event Co-Chair:                                              Betty Jean “BJ” Wegman

Media Contact:
Wonetha Hall
Phone number: (813) 224-9207