Father, son team delivers food and hope in Baton Rouge flood


(Baton Rouge, LA) The Ketchums make a great team when it comes to disaster response. The father, son duo are one of the most experienced crews working in Baton Rouge this week following historic flooding throughout many parts of Southern Louisiana.

“I know how he wants things…I can anticipate what he wants,” said Ike Ketchum.

Dan drives and Ike navigates. They have worked as a team since Hurricane Gustav.

The pair moved to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit looking for work in construction. What they found was a way to help those in desperate need.

“We’ve had people try to pay us for the meals we give them off the canteen,” said Dan Ketchum. “I tell them I will only accept a handshake. You can see their surprise first, then the gratitude.”

Despite how “fluid” things seem to go on their canteen, their relationship hasn’t always been so smooth. Not too long ago, Dan was asked to read the bible scripture during church services at the New Orleans Salvation Army. He read from Luke 15…the story of the prodigal son.

“It took me a long time to read that cause my son was lost. I got choked up,” said Ketchum.

Ike saw what that scripture did to his father. Dan says he can’t explain what happened after that but Ike did a one eighty.

At one time, caught up in drugs and alcohol, Ike says The Salvation Army changed his life.

“The Salvation Army gave me the opportunity to change my life,” said Ike Ketchum. “I feel like I’m the luckiest person ever.”

Now, the Ketchums run their “ministry” out of a canteen each time they are called upon. 

“I see how people are grateful, and the community is changed. It blows my mind every time we go out,” said Ike.

“The Salvation Army is a family, they welcomed me with open arms, and that’s what I do from the canteen,” says Dan.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.


Salvation Army sees rise in clients utilizing its services

Salvation Army sees rise in clients utilizing its servicesFernando Mena sat at a cafeteria table consuming a hot dog, chili and potato chips.

The 25-yr-old who stated he lives in the woods began going to The Salvation Army 3 times a day for meals after recently quitting his job cleaning at a fast-food restaurant. Mena cited well being issues as the rationale behind quitting his job and stated he’s in search of temp jobs.

At one other table, Artherine Booth, seventy five, sat with a few buddies. Ms. Booth moved in to The Salvation Army ladies’s shelter in June after having to leave her previous residence.

She is planning to move into the Catherine Booth Gardens of Tyler, one of two residential facilities that The Salvation Army operates for low-income and senior citizens via a federal government contract.

Though Disa Brown has a house she shares together with her fiancé and eighty three-yr-old father, she eats lunch at The Salvation Army two to 5 times every week, one thing she’s done off and on for the past 4 years.

“It simply is significant, because Tyler isn’t a large metropolis, and it doesn’t have a whole lot of assistance for us, so for this to be right here to feed us three meals a day, it means so much to lots of people who don’t have,” stated Ms. Brown, 36, who described herself as a homemaker and self-employed. “You by no means know when your life can turn around and you don’t have anything.”

These individuals are amongst a rising number of East Texas residents who’re going to The Salvation Army for meals.

This summer, the nonprofit has seen a 40% increase, from 5,000 to 7,000, in weekly meals served.

In addition, about 10% of the 127 shelter residents are within the facility due to climate.

The nonprofit has a 200-bed facility and further housing area for 250 cots for emergency situations. Water and cooling stations for short-term use can also be found.

Director of Development Cindy Bell mentioned, because the Salvation Army doesn’t survey their shoppers, they can’t formally attribute the rise to one thing in particular.

However anecdotally, they stated the summer season does create greater pressure on folks, as a result of rising utility cost, and people must make harder decisions about the way to spend their cash.

“I have to decide, ‘do I buy meals for my household or the medication that I need?” Ms. Bell mentioned.

Lindsey Galabeas, The Salvation Army’s community and public relations coordinator, mentioned when individuals already live paycheck to paycheck, any increase in expenses, makes it tougher.

For the organization, the challenge comes as a result of, despite the fact that the individuals utilizing its services are growing, donations are declining as they usually do throughout the summer season.

“Lots of people consider us as a Christmas group,” Ms. Galabeas stated. The fact is the group is largely active throughout  the year.

The nonprofit’s services include men’s, women’s and family shelters, free daily meals, a residential drug rehabilitation program, rent and utility assistance, emergency disaster services and afterschool programs.

The agency is seeking donations to help fund its programs, which is about $four million for the shelters, social services and administration buildings.

Ms. Bell stated the company has a lean budget, and 87 cents of each $1 donated goes to services.

Twitter: @TMTEmily



The Salvation Army of Tyler is in need of monetary donations to help fund the growing number of clients utilizing its services. For more details about The Salvation Army or to donate, go to www.salvationarmytexas.org/tyler , stop by the office at 633 N. Broadway Ave. in Tyler, or call 903-592-4361.



The Salvation Army serves three meals a day Sunday through Friday and two meals a day on Saturday. These free meals are open to the general public. Serving times are as follows:


Breakfast: 7 to 7:45 a.m.

Lunch: 12 to 12:45 p.m.

Dinner: 4:30 to 5 p.m.


Brunch: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Dinner: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.


Breakfast: 8 to 8:30 a.m.

Lunch: 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Dinner: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

center for hope

More NC children living in poverty than in 2008


center for hopeThe number of children in North Carolina living in poverty has increased by 25 percent since 2008, according to a report to be released Tuesday, even as the nation recovered from the recession.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation report, which studies factors related to children’s well-being, noted several worsening financial conditions in the state since the recession, but also saw improvements in healthcare and education. The foundation is a private philanthropy that makes grants to nonprofits to respond to issues that negatively affect children.

About 566,000 children, or one in four in the state, live in poverty, according to the report. Two other measures of financial stability – children whose parents lack secure employment and teens who are not in school and not working – also worsened since 2008.

North Carolina ranked 35th overall in the report for child well-being. The state tied with Texas and Kentucky for the 11th highest child poverty rate in the country. The federal poverty level for a family of four is $24,250.

Laila Bell, the director of research and data for the non-profit NC Child, said that the recession was a trigger for some of the changes, but state legislation contributed to the problems.

As an example, she cited the state allowing the earned income tax credit to expire in 2014. Republican lawmakers at the time said eliminating the tax credit, along with other changes, was meant to simplify the system and to spread the tax burden equally.

Bell said the challenges are even larger than the report indicates because it takes the income of twice the federal poverty level to adequately provide for children.

Measuring by that standard, about half the children in North Carolina live in poverty, or more than a million children, Bell said. Children of color are twice as likely to live in poverty, she said.

Nola Davis, 37, is staying in the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope shelter near uptown with her three children, ages 2, 3 and almost 11. She said her family moved there in October after losing its home and living in a hotel for about a year.

Davis recently found a job with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and her children’s father works at the airport.

She said she has continually been rejected by landlords for housing despite being able to pay the rent.

“Once they find out you’re here, it’s such a stigma coming from a homeless shelter that nobody wants to rent to you,” she said. Davis and her family recently found a landlord willing to rent to them, and they hope to move in next month.

‘A heavy burden’

Poverty impacts many areas in a child’s life, Bell said. Children in poor households have less access to fresh foods, high-quality schools and green space. Over time, these children may be less prepared for school, impacting their education.

“Coming to school with that on your shoulders is a heavy burden,” said Susan Hansell, executive director of A Child’s Place.

Children living in poverty also spend less time in school because they normally have to use school buses to get home, she said. “They’re not able to take advantage of after-school programs,” she said.

Homeless children can also experience a higher degree of anxiety and depression, Hansell said.

Though poverty affects children at any age, those in early stages of development are particularly susceptible, Bell said.

Davis said her oldest daughter can’t understand all of the circumstances that led to living at the shelter.

“How do you explain that to a child?” she said.

Bell said North Carolina lawmakers could improve conditions for kids in the state by supporting the health of mothers before and during their pregnancies. Better healthcare, possibly through expanded access to insurance for low-income women, can help prevent low birth weight babies.

The state government could also invest more in early childhood education, a key to children’s development and future success in school, Bell said.

Charlotte has a network of support groups and non-profits that can help children and families in poverty, Hansell said. A Child’s Place advocates for homeless children and their families, helping them find healthcare and educational support.

Not all the factors in the Kids Count report worsened. All health measures improved, and three out of four education measures improved. About 94 percent of the state’s children are insured, more than at any point in the state’s history, Bell said.

In education, the report found more fourth-graders are proficient in reading, more eighth-graders are proficient in math and more high school students are graduating on time.


fans for the elderly

Fans for the elderly

fans for the elderly

Fans for the Elderly

The Salvation Army and an area media firm are teaming up to assist in making sure that the elderly keep cool throughout the summer’s brutal heat.
Thomas Media and the charity are gathering fans to distribute to elderly and others in poor health.

Salvation Army officers say they’ve given away 15 thus far.

Anyone can donate to the Salvation Army or at any Thomas Media location.

Churches are also gathering money to donate to the Salvation Army.

This is the first year for the program, which started July 1 and will proceed until the end of August.

mission statement

Salvation Army captains bid farewell, extend thanks to community

After more than three years overseeing the Bartow County service area, Salvation Army Capts. Lee and Michelle Wilson will bid farewell June 21.

“We received our orders to move to the divisional headquarters of the Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi division of The Salvation Army,” Michelle Wilson said. “Our office will be located in Jackson, Miss. Our roles in Jackson will be in finance for myself and program for Lee.

“We are so grateful for the many blessings we have received from serving here in Bartow County. We could not have met the many challenges and opportunities that came our way without the support of the community. We truly say from the bottom of our hearts, ‘Thank you for your support.’”

She continued, “I have been amazed since our first few days here about how giving this community is, especially when it comes to nonprofits. Our kettle effort is a testimony of this, as we run a 55 percent volunteer driven effort. This far exceeds the standard of many other Salvation Army commands both small and large.”

Extending thanks to the community, the Wilsons said they were continuously impressed by the public’s willingness to help their neighbors in need.

“I think my most memorable moment is how God has provided over and over again through the generosity of others,” Michelle Wilson said. “In nonprofit work, you can be tempted to walk by sight and be discouraged by the great needs around you, but we know that as Christians we walk by faith in expectancy of what will be done for us.

“We have been, at many times throughout our 3 1/2 years, unsure of how we would meet the needs of our neighbors in need but just at the right time, the heart of a caring volunteer or generous donor would be led to support us in exactly the way that was needed.”

Operating in Cartersville since 1995, The Salvation Army — an evangelical part of the universal Christian church — aided more than 11,000 people last year with various services, such as food, financial assistance and youth character building programs. While the thrift store closed April 30, the nonprofit will hold monthly sales in the future to support The Salvation Army’s programs and services.

“In 2014, The Salvation Army served 11,324 people right here in Bartow County. That, based on 2013’s population is 11.18 percent of Bartow County that is being served by The Salvation Army,” Michelle Wilson said. “Each and every day we provide basic needs, such as food, toiletries, prescription assistance, utility assistance and disaster services.

“We also serve underprivileged children each week through our youth character building programs, which provide life skills to youth K [through] 12. Lastly, we offer our seasonal services that provide toys and clothing through the Angel Tree program to children in need, opportunities for children to attend weeklong summer camps as well as community care outreach to shut-ins throughout the county.”

In addition to The Salvation Army’s donors and recipients, Bartow’s church community also has made a lasting impression on Lee Wilson.
“Bartow County is a county that prays,” he said. “Last year my wife and I were present at the National Day of Prayer service that was held outside of the courthouse. While there, we learned of the Bible being read cover to cover in various places in the county, and we thought that was amazing. So amazing, that this year, we took our youth group to one of the locations to participate in this reading. Seeing our young people taking part in this event was something I will never forget.”

On June 28, the Wilsons’ successors — Capts. Scott and Michelle Lyles — will start serving the Salvation Army’s Cartersville Corps.

“This transition of leadership in The Salvation Army is something that happens every so often,” Lee Wilson said. “Capts. Scott and Michelle Lyles are two very capable officers, and I know that they are not only praying for their new community, but looking forward to joining the Bartow County family. It is my hope and prayer that you will embrace them as you did us, and continue to support the work of The Salvation Army as they continue to do the work that our Lord and Savior has called us all to do.”

For more information about supporting the Salvation Army, located at 16 Felton Place, call 770-386-6256 or send the nonprofit a message via its Facebook page, The Salvation Army – Cartersville, Ga.

Kroc Center

Hampton Roads Kroc Center – The Salvation Army is about to celebrate it’s 1-year anniversary.


The Salvation Army is about to celebrate a big anniversary, and it’s bringing in NFL Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith to lead the charge.

“We’re glad he’s coming to share the message of hope for young people to do the right thing. Build character,” said Major Stephen Long of the Salvation Army.

The Hampton Roads Kroc Center is at 1401 Ballentine Blvd. in Norfolk in the Broad Creek area. It’s a massive, positive place for children and families to get involved in programs together — from weight lifting at the gym to fitness classes to basketball to swimming in the giant indoor water park. There are music classes and character-building classes.

But the part of the Kroc Center that’s the favorite of 8 year-old Tye Austin might surprise you — church services.

“It’s fun and I like the service,” Tye said. “I learn how to behave better and how to respect parents better.”

Learning Christian values and becoming better individuals is something they value at the Kroc Center. Each year they hold a black-tie fundraising dinner to help families with membership fees. Last year’s dinner raised $96,000 and they hope to top that that this Thursday by bringing in the Super Bowl champ, who got his start in athletics participating in programs at the Salvation Army community center where he grew up.

Lubbock Salvation Army helps homeless

Lubbock Salvation Army assists the homeless

Lubbock Salvation Army helps homelessEven with the spring semester coming to an end, Lubbock’s morning breeze and nightly cool temperatures have remained constant. For Lubbock’s homeless population, this often means long, cold nights.

With the help of organizations and volunteers like those in the Salvation Army, individuals are able to bring warmth and aid to those in need, especially during extremely cold conditions.

“We provide a couple of different services to the lower-income community,” Shannon Sudduth, the community relations and development coordinator at the Lubbock Salvation Army, said.

Sudduth has worked actively toward helping the homeless community, she said. Sudduth graduated LCU with a major in organizational communications and is currently working toward her graduate degree at Tech in mass communications. Salvation Army has an event called Survive the Night.

Survive the Night involves active participation of volunteers helping the homeless community around Lubbock get shelter, food and disaster relief.

“We take our truck around during 30 degrees or below temperatures around 6 p.m. during the months of November to mid-February,” Sudduth said. “We drive around downtown looking for homeless community who aren’t able to get back to our shelter and provide them with blankets, warm clothing like scarves, beanies, gloves, that sort of thing.”

Sudduth said during the winter the Salvation Army asks for donations and blankets and they are later put in the building’s storage unit to be supplied to those in need during the right time. Tech students usually help out in the shelter, she said, helping arrange bags containing blankets and hygiene kits. Sudduth said during January there is a sign-up sheet for volunteers to help on their rounds for Survive the Night.

“The program is designed to try and help people survive the night,” Dave Frericks, the disaster coordinator at the Lubbock Salvation Army, said. “Nights we go out and find them on the street and provide them with socks, caps and a hot meal. And if they want we can bring them to the shelter for the night so they can survive one more day.“

Salvation Army recruited Frericks after his work in the government as an advisory board member in the disaster team during 1994.

“One night in February we went out during 12-degree weather. The wind was blowing and we happened to find a fellow sleeping on a bench. He was wearing a T-shirt and shorts,” Frericks said. “He was shaking so badly he could barely stand up. We got him in down here and there was no question in my mind, I wanted to save his life. He would have died right there.”

According to the Tech website students often volunteer with Salvation Army during Tech Lubbock Community Day and with other organizations like Raiders Helping Others.

Tashika Curlee, a senior English and sociology dual major from Paris, Texas, has volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, the South Plains Food Bank and the Salvation Army.

Curlee said that she had previously volunteered with the Salvation Army along with her organization Pegasus.

“From everything that I had heard, the Salvation Army was an organization meant to help those who were struggling within the community,” she said.

Most of the students who volunteer at the Salvation Army are assigned to meal preparation, cleaning or other basic duties, she said. Curlee was able to be a part of the volunteer team through the preparation of meals.

During her time volunteering, Curlee said she felt like she really got to know the staff and the work they put forth, in addition to those individuals in need.

“Most of the people were so nice and had an amazing attitude regardless of their circumstances. One family that is burned into my memory is that of a Hispanic father and his two young daughters,” she said. “The daughters were smiling and playing around with each other. They were not the only family we served that day, there were some others as well.”

Volunteering is an important part of being a member of a community, Curlee said. Community means helping others.

“As a college student, I recognize that I would not be here getting a higher education if not for the generosity of those within our community in giving out scholarships and other forms of financial aid,” Curlee said. “Therefore, I believe volunteering at any level showcases how thankful I am and my desire to give back to a community that has given me so much.”


Foodie events & Food Drive in Southwest Florida



Feeding Our Communities | Fifth Third Bank (South Florida) has partnered with The Salvation Army to collect 5,300 pounds of non-perishable food items during the “Feeding our Communities” food drive. Bank employees and customers – as well as local businesses and community residents – are encouraged to contribute non-perishable food items. Donations will be accepted at all Fifth Third Bank (South Florida) branches through April 24. Food collection bins are set up at all 53 Fifth Third banking centers. 449-7088.

Wednesday, April 1

  • Feeding Our Communities Fifth Third Bank (South Florida) has partnered with The Salvation Army to collect 5,300 pounds of non-perishable food items during the “Feeding our Communities” food drive. Bank employees and customers – as well as local businesses and community residents – are encouraged to contribute non-perishable food items. Donations will be accepted at all Fifth Third Bank (South Florida) branches through April 24. Food collection bins are set up at all 53 Fifth Third banking centers. 449-7088.
  • Flavors of Matlacha Tour This delightful history, public art, eco and taste adventure combines Matlacha’s salty history with the signature tastes of this cracker fishing village-turned artist colony. Tours begin at The Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens, 4637 Pine Island Road NW, Matlacha. $13. 10 a.m. Wednesdays. Reservations required 945-0405. truetours.net
  • Health Park Farmers Market Farmers Market comes to Health Park, featuring the finest local produce and citrus. Joined with specialty vendors to offer many wonderful foods and craft products. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Village Shoppes at Health Park, 16200 Summerlin Road, Fort Myers. 470-9007.

Thursday, April 2

  • Coconut Point Farmers Market Peruse the market for fresh produce, local seafood, meats, beautiful flowers, locally harvested honey, baked goods, and even dog treats! You can also find one-of-a-kind handcrafts for sale. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays. Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero. 691-9249 buylocallee.com/farmers-markets/coconut-point/
  • Lobstermania Every Thursday Parrot Key offers a variety of lobster specials. Choose to have it steamed, baked, broiled or get a set of twin lobster tails. 4-10 p.m. Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, 2500 Main St., Fort Myers Beach, 463-3257.
  • Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery Tours and Tastings Come see how award winning Wicked Dolphin Florida Rum is made. Tours are available Tuesdays, Thursdays at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Wicked Dolphin Distillery, 131 SW 3rd Place, Cape Coral, 242-5244. wickeddolphin.com

Friday, April 3

  • Lakes Park Farmers Market one of the largest in Lee County, this farmer’s market has over 60 vendors offering fresh produce, fruit smoothies, meats, seafood, and more. Also, look for unique and hand-crafted gifts. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays. Lakes Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, south Fort Myers. 691-9249. buylocallee.com/farmers-markets/lakes-park-farmers-market/

Saturday, April 4

  • Bonita Springs Farmers Market locally grown and produced items including everything from garden-fresh fruits and vegetables to cut flowers, decorative plants, baked goods, seafood, honey, and more. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. Promenade At Bonita Bay, 26811 S. Bay Drive, Bonita Springs. 691-9249. buylocallee.com/farmers-markets/bonita-springs-farmers-market/
  • Cape Coral Farmers’ Market Fresh local produce, Gulf-fresh seafood, baked goods, native plants and trees, crafts, jewelry, and live music by Dave Lapio, John Friday and Yard Dog Charlie. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, through May 9. Authorized EBT/SNAP. Cape Coral Farmer’s Market, SE 47th Terrace and SE 10th Place, Club Square, Cape Coral. 549-6900. capecoralfarmersmarket.com
  • Greenmarket Farmers Market Find local produce, seafood, honey, cheeses, baked goods, plants and gardening supplies, and more. Live music, free Wi-Fi, and free classes in a natural setting that the family can enjoy. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 939-2787.

Sunday, April 5

  • Champagne Jazz Brunch Brunch hours 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Enjoy a fantastic seafood, champagne brunch and relaxing jazz music with Jazz Duo: Vocalist, Jean Frye Sidwell and Bassist, Chris Sidwell. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $49 adults, $24 children age 5-12, free age 5 and younger. Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, 5001 Coconut Rd, Bonita Springs, 444-1234. .coconutpoint.hyatt.com
  • Farmers Market Koreshan State Historic Site will be hosting a Farmers Market starting Nov. 9 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. To date, there are over 25 vendors registered with the best fruits and vegetables to be found along with many other items. $5 parking fee. Koreshan State Historic Site, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero, 992-0311.
  • Sunday Brunch Piano and vocals for Sunday brunch with Michael Moore-Kelly, open to the public. 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Herons Glen Golf and Country Club, 2250 Avenida Del Vera, North Fort Myers, 731-4545.
  • Special Easter Menu Naples Grande Beach Resort’s brand-new vibrant seafood restaurant, The Catch of the Pelican, is offering a three course pre-fixe menu for Easter on Sunday, April 5. The menu will feature locally sourced produce from Chef Tim Yoa’s on-site farm and Rabbit Run Farm and diners can also choose items from the raw bar, fresh seafood from the “catches” section of the menu, and steaks. Reservations can be made through the resort’s website or by calling 855-453-0716. noon-8 p.m. $59. Naples Grande Beach Resort, 475 Seagate Drive, Naples
  • Sanibel Island Farmers Market This must-see shopping destination with over 45 vendors is home to our area’s most treasured natural assets. Browse for fresh bread, local produce, honey, seafood, meats, and cheeses. Sundays 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sanibel City Hall, 800 Dunlop Road, Sanibel. 691-9249 . buylocallee.com/farmers-markets/33-2/
  • Sunday Jazz Brunch extensive buffet and made to order omelets and Eggs Benedict. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $13 adults, $7 children 10 and younger. George and Wendy’s Sanibel Seafood Grille, 2499 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. 395-1263. sanibelseafoogrille.com
  • Village Green Market Enjoy a green market by the bay every Sunday offering fresh produce, handmade and homemade specialties, and fine foods. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The Village on Venetian Bay, 4200 Gulfshore Blvd. N., Naples. 403-2202. venetianvillage.com

Monday, April 6

  • Fletchers Farmers Market Fresh Local Produce, Local Vendors 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays. Fletchers Farmers Market, 627 Cape Coral Parkway W, Cape Coral, 542-7878. fletchersgrille.com
  • Monday Rib Night Full rack of slow cooked baby back ribs served with fries and slaw. 5-10 p.m. $18. George and Wendy’s Sanibel Seafood Grille, 2499 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. 395-1263. sanibelseafoodgrille.com

Tuesday, April 7

  • Homemade Spaghetti and Meatball dinner Dine in for $6 or take out $6.25 and is open to the public from 5-7 p.m. American Legion Post 38, 1857 Jackson St., Fort Myers, 332-1853. alpost38-swfl.org
  • Lunch Cruise This cruise focuses on the fishing cultures of Pine Island Sound from the indigenous Calusa to the spectacular Tarpon and sport fishing of today. Inclues lunch at the Historic Tarpon Lodge and guided walk on the Calusa Indian Mound Trail. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $45 adult, $35 children. Captiva Cruises-McCarthy’s Marina, 11401 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva, 472-5300. captivacruises.com
  • Surfside Sunset Market indoor shopping from May to November, outside November thru April. Fresh, healthy and local produce bakery items, Micro-greens, handcrafted soaps and lotions, local honey, jams and jellies and more. 3-8 p.m. Tuesdays. The Shops at Surfside, 2354 Surfside Blvd., Cape Coral, 549-6900 ext 101.

Saturday, April 11

  • Fairy Tea Party Enjoy treats, tea sandwiches, punch and tea in the butterfly garden. Feel free to wear fairy or butterfly wings. Registration is required at least one week in advance and there is a limited number of spaces. (3-12 years)The Fairy Tea Party is also available as a private party – call to make special arrangements. 11 a.m.- noon. $15-$23. Rotary Park, 5505 Rose Garden Road, Cape Coral, 549-4606. CapeParks.com
  • Fifth Annual Crawfish Boil The Boys & Girls Club of Collier County is hosting the Fifth Annual Crawfish Boil on April 11, starting at 3 p.m. The event is open to the public and will feature authentic Louisiana themed food and crawfish, live entertainment, activities, raffles, give-a-ways and more. Tickets are $25. Kids 12 and under are free. The event is a friendraiser, to increase awareness of the Club and the valuable resources it offers to our local community. All proceeds will benefit 3,000 of the most at-risk children and teens in Collier County. 3-7 p.m. Boys & Girls Club, 7500 Davis Blvd, Naples, 325-1718. bgccc.com/news-and-events/event/crawfish-boil-2015
  • Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser Luvybear Quilts 4 Tots fundraiser with door prizes, raffles, special entertainment and more. $5 for adults and $3 for kids 8 and younger. 8 a.m.-noon. Italian American Club, 4725 Vincennes Blvd., Cape Coral. 770-8277.
From left, Terrance Bostic, Shaun Carroll and Miesha McLeod sing karaoke at the Chattanooga Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue recently. The Salvation Army offers karaoke every Wednesday to give area homeless people something to look forward to.
Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Homeless karaoke lovers find a home at the Salvation Army


From left, Terrance Bostic, Shaun Carroll and Miesha McLeod sing karaoke at the Chattanooga Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue recently. The Salvation Army offers karaoke every Wednesday to give area homeless people something to look forward to. Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

A sleeping woman embraced her belongings in a corner booth, seemingly deaf to her surroundings as fellow homeless Chattanoogans took their turns belting out karaoke songs at the Chattanooga Salvation Army on Wednesday.

But she was the only one asleep — the rest of Chattanooga’s homeless karaoke lovers danced vigorously between the coffee tables at the small cafe.

Standing out of the way of the dancers, Jessica Owens, a 52-year-old who has been homeless on and off for the past eight years, waited to take the stage.

“I’m kind of shy but I used to sing when I was younger so this makes me feel good and brings back memories,” Owens said. “[Karaoke] gives me some peace, kinda gives me a little excitement, since the majority of the time I’m by myself.”

When she took the stage, she sang Whitney Houston, her favorite artist. Despite the eruption of applause when she finished, she kept her eyes low and offered only a hidden a smile.

Karaoke isn’t a hot shower, isn’t a free meal, isn’t a bed to sleep in — but it is a chance to feel human.

“Where else can homeless go to perform, be applauded and loved on in the Tennessee Valley?” asked Kimberly George, the director of marketing and development for the Salvation Army 614 Corps.

The weekly event offers people who love karaoke an alternative to going to a bar to sing, and brings people into the building who may otherwise not request help.

Sometimes karaoke can even change lives, said George. Since the karaoke events began three years ago, one man devoted his life to the seminary, and many others are now off the streets, some even returning to volunteer on a regular basis. George said she thinks karaoke day is unique to the Chattanooga location — no other programs like it are anywhere in the United States.

“It just touches my heart, seeing people trying to get off of the street,” said volunteer Fred Holland. “If they have a bad day or sad day or something on their mind, it allows them to sing it out instead of going out and doing drugs or getting in trouble.”


Tim Tebow to help Salvation Army raise funds to aide the homeless

tim-tebowFormer NFL quarterback Tim Tebow will be helping the Salvation Army of Manatee County, Florida raise funds for the homeless people in their community.

He will be going to Florida in time for the “2015 Evening of Hope” event on May 15, which will be held at the Bayside Community Church.

According to the Bradenton Herald, Tebow will be the event’s guest of honour and speaker, and the well-known Christian athlete will be talking about his faith and the importance of supporting the homeless community.

The “Evening of Hope” was established in 2014 to support the Salvation Army and its local homeless-prevention services.

“We feel blessed to be able to partner with such well know advocates like Tim Tebow,” said Manatee County regional salvation coordinator Major Dwayne Durham.

Tebow is a dedicated philantropist who has spent a lot of time caring for children who have been abandoned or who are battling illnesses.

Through his own non-profit organisation called the Tim Tebow Foundation, the quarterback builds playrooms in children’s hospitals, supports couples who want to adopt but are struggling financially, and even hosts special parties for sick children just to make them happy.

“From a very early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of God’s word, the salvation we have in His Son Jesus and the responsibility we have to give back to others,” said Tebow, as he explained their mission “to bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”

One of the latest efforts of his foundation is the 5th Annual Celebrity Gala and Golf Classic, where they raised more than $1.5 million. The funds raised will go to Tebow’s initiatives – Orphan Care, Tebow CURE Hospital, Night to Shine Prom, and Timmy’s Playroom.

On their Facebook page, Tebow revealed that “3,000 fans, 330 volunteers, 84 golfers and 26 celebrity friends came together for 18 holes of excitement” to help benefit their cause.