Posts

liz murray

Harvard graduate born into poverty and homeless as a teen shares her story

liz murrayWhen Liz Murray overcame homelessness to graduate from Harvard University, people called her a bootstrapper and lauded her hard work.

But hard work doesn’t tell the whole story, said Murray, the featured speaker at today’s D.J.’s Hero Awards luncheon sponsored by the Salvation Army.

There has to be a bridge — someone or something offering help and encouragement, she said. That could be a committed social worker, a friendly stranger, a scholarship fund.

“When you have that, an introduction to a person who can help you, it’s a bridge that turns hard work into opportunity,” she said.

In an interview Monday, Murray said it’s up to the community to be that bridge: “Nobody is off the hook.”

She said today’s Salvation Army event is part of the solution. Eight high school seniors each will receive a $10,000 scholarship at the luncheon. The awards are named after D.J. Sokol, the son of David and Peggy Sokol, who contributed to his school and community despite battling cancer. He died in 1999 at age 18.

Murray said she had lots of help and inspiration along her path. She went from being a homeless teen who missed school 75 percent of the time to making up lost courses in two years and winning a New York Times scholarship to the Ivy League school.

She was born in grinding poverty to drug-addicted parents, but she never was angry at them. Instead, she viewed the addiction as a terrible thing that happened to the family, which included a sister.

“I had an instinct for the fact that they were sick,” she said. “People can’t give what they don’t have.”

Despite that, they gave her plenty. She was grateful she grew up with two parents who showed her an abundance of love. With regular trips to the public library, her dad — who had two college degrees — planted the idea that education was a way out. Her mom taught her to dream when she shared her own dreams with her daughter at night.

In a roundabout way, they taught her to be independent. “I never expected people to do things, because no one did,” Murray said.

At age 13 she ended up in a difficult group home when her mom was hospitalized with end-stage AIDS. Dad was in a homeless shelter, and her sister lived with friends. By 15, she was homeless herself.

Her mom’s dreams of becoming sober and owning a home died when AIDS claimed her life. Murray took that as a signal that she should get serious about school to preserve her own dreams. She graduated from the Humanities Preparatory Academy in Manhattan despite a still-precarious living situation.

Strangers who read her story in the Times showed up to help: bringing brownies, cards, a homemade quilt. One woman drove from New Jersey each week to do her laundry.

Now, she said, she tries to do the same for teens in similar situations. She works with youths from Covenant House, the largest organization for homeless teens in the country. She looks for ways to introduce them to people who want to help with jobs, internships and other aid.

“I love to see people’s dreams come true,” she said.

She turned that coaching into a full-time business, but recently stepped back to have a family and pursue a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University.

She’ll share her story with the 1,100 people expected for today’s luncheon at the CenturyLink Center. She finds inspiration in the stories of each winner in the award’s 15-year history. They all have much to contribute, she said.

It’s up to everyone to help more young people figure that out, she said.

“One thing I hear people say constantly, when they’re talking about the ills of the world, is that someone needs to do something — ‘they’ need to do something. I ask: Do you realize there’s no ‘they?’ ”

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.”

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

Karaoke

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.”

501852-334f3e9c-37cb-11e4-810e-8cb7d4fff7a01

Spend tonight on couch and discover “hidden” issue facing young people!

Major Rod Ainsworth and Hannah Stead are supporting The Salvation Army’s appeal for people to sleep on a couch tonight to raise funds for youth homelessness

Hannah Stead knows better than most the hardships that face young people who have nowhere to go.

Hannah, 17, had her first taste of homelessness at 13 and has spent the past four years couch-surfing at friends’ houses or on the streets.

Hannah’s story isn’t unique, according to Darren McGee, manager of Youth Outreach Service (YOS), with youth homelessness an issue in Pine Rivers and greater Brisbane.

To raise awareness and funds, they are asking people to walk a mile in the shoes of young people such as Hannah and join the Salvation Army’s Couch Project.

“Youth homelessness is a hidden issue. When people think of homelessness they usually think of the old guys sleeping on the streets,” Mr McGee said.

“Well that’s not the facts, about 40 per cent of the homeless are young people sleeping on couches, so it is hidden homelessness.

“We are challenging people to sleep on the couch for a night on Saturday, do some fundraising and sleep like these young people who are couch-surfing.’’

It will help people going down the same route as Hannah.

“I stayed in about five or six different places over about two months and ran out of money and people started not wanting me on the couch anymore,” she said.

“My stuff was everywhere. I had nowhere to put it, I was eating their food, using their laundry and showering.

“They were getting over having me there.

“Sometimes I would just go spend a night on the streets because I felt guilty asking if I could just stay one more night.”

The Couch Project will raise funds and help the Salvation Army’s work helping young people.

Shelters

Salvation Army moving forward with plans for new housing complex

housingThe Salvation Army “hasn’t lost momentum” on replacing its decaying emergency housing shelter, new divisional commander Frank Pittman has vowed.

Major Pittman, who assumed his post a month ago, said he’d been taken aback by the decrepit state of the Salvation Army’s existing shelter in Hamilton.

The charity for the needy hopes later this week to announce the architectural firm that has been selected to design its new housing complex at The Glebe Road, Pembroke.

Conceding he’d been surprised by the level of social need prevalent in Bermuda, Major Pittman added: “Probably the most alarming thing was to see the condition of the emergency housing compound on North Street. “It’s a building that was meant to last ten years, and it’s been going for 30.”

The Salvation Army is already two months into its six-month Memorandum of Understanding with Government on renovating the disused Bishop Spencer building, abandoned years ago by the Department of Education.

The move came after a City of Hamilton task force condemned the existing shelter, which has been in use since 1982.

The charity has “already put out expressions of interest” to various firms asking for quotes on their services, Major Pittman said.

“We have an agreement with Government to explore the feasibility of that building to house the emergency shelter,” he added. “I had to hit the ground running because of the time that’s lapsed.”

On August 4, Major Pittman replaced former divisional commander Shawn Critch, after serving as the area commander for East Newfoundland, based in St John’s, Canada.

His wife, Major Rita Pittman, also directs the Salvation Army’s women’s ministries and community care ministries in Bermuda.

“We’ve been warmly received — we’re totally impressed with people’s hospitality and kindness,” Major Pittman said.

“Bermuda is a wonderful place from what we’ve seen thus far. If this is any indication of what our years will be like, we’re really looking forward to it.”

Nicholas-Conner-3

Trading places: A Homeless Experience

homeless
The following was originally posted on The Salvation Army Northern Division’s blog.
The mercury plunged to minus 6 the night Nicholas Conner slept under a bridge in Fargo, N.D. He was curled up inside his sleeping bag wearing street clothes, a jacket, hat and mittens. But the layers were no match for the biting cold. His chattering teeth sounded like a telegraph clicking SOS.
“I spent the whole night shivering – I might have slept two hours,” he said.
The crazy part is, Conner didn’t have to be there. He’s a full-time college student and could have been sleeping in the warmth of his dorm room.
Even more peculiar, he spent the next night in his car – and the following seven nights in a Fargo homeless shelter, where he ended up getting sick with a fever of 102.7.
If Conner didn’t have to live like that, then why did he?
One simple reason: He wanted to know exactly what homeless people go through so that he could serve them more effectively as a volunteer at the Fargo Salvation Army and elsewhere. No more, no less.
“Nicholas Conner is an incredible young man of God,” said Major Byron Medlock, Fargo Salvation Army administrator. “His passion for service is nothing short of inspiring, and he’s only 19.”
Pivotal moment

Nicholas-Conner-2
Conner’s homeless experiment took place in December 2012, several months after his first time serving hot meals at the Fargo Salvation Army – where he still volunteers to this day.
“There was a very pivotal moment that’s kept me coming back (to The Salvation Army),” said Conner, a North Dakota State University sophomore from Bemidji, Minn. “It happened when I met this homeless guy who started telling me about his life – how he served in Desert Storm, how we was in prison for 10 years, how he was an alcoholic.”
The man wound up showing Conner where he lived: A few blocks from the Fargo Salvation Army, underneath the evergreen bushes pictured above.
“He broke down and cried right in front of me,” Conner recalled. “It was my first real encounter with homelessness. I skipped my calculus class because of the conversation I was having with him.”
With that, Conner discovered a newfound passion: helping people who have nothing.
“I had to do more,” explained Conner, a devout Christian. “It ignited a passion in me for wanting to bring these people something and give them something to look forward to, to think about, to work for.”
Perfect fit

Nicholas-Conner-3
The Fargo Salvation Army is the perfect fit for Conner to carry out his passion for helping homeless people in the name of Jesus Christ. The place allows him to interact with the 100-plus homeless people who come there every weekday for a bevy of services: hot breakfasts and lunches, showers, clothing, counseling, spiritual support and – above all – love.
Conner serves breakfast or lunch there at least once a week (pictured).
“Afterward, I mingle,” he said. “I try to help people understand they’re not alone in this. These people really need support.”
Conner provides more of that support outside of the Fargo Salvation Army. He’s the founder of a student organization called Hands and Feet, a 32-member Bible study group that performs service projects every two weeks.
“We’re all about being the hands and feet of Christ,” said Conner, who plans to attend seminary after college. “Last year the service project everyone enjoyed the most was throwing a Super Bowl party for homeless people. We put the game on for them and served a bunch of football food.”
Conner doesn’t enjoy recognition, and agreed to be interviewed for this story on one condition: that God get all the credit.
“I am not anything special, I am just trying my very best to submit to God,” he said. “I believe in service that is selfless and humble.”
The Salvation Army couldn’t have said it better. Join us in that same spirit of service by getting involved. Doing so is easy: You can make a donation or find volunteer opportunities in your area.

Grocery Shopping This Week? Throw a Few More Items in Your Cart for Families in Need

It’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, a week dedicated to awareness, education, homelessness, food insecurity, and poverty as it affects those in our community and world.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this week provides an excellent opportunity to donate a box of canned goods and other nonperishable items to your local Salvation Army to ensure a Thanksgiving meal for a family in need. Visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org for a list of locations near you.

And check out how The Salvation Army will serve communities this Thanksgiving and beyond, thanks to this video provided by The Salvation Army Vision Network (SAVN).

Posted by Megan

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 8.06.14 AM

Former homeless teen recieves free car for being a “Spark of Hope”

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 8.06.14 AM

Brittnie Pemberton was just nine years old when she and her mother were homeless and living at The Salvation Army’s Door of Hope. Her father, sought help for substance abuse through The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Program (ARC). Throughout this trying time, this young lady never lost hope that her dreams would come true.
And on Tuesday afternoon, one did.

While living at the shelter, Brittnie participated in a project called “Pictures of Hope,” where she was asked to take pictures of her hopes and dreams, one of which included a snap shot of San Diego State University. That dream became a reality a few years ago when a donor endowed a four year scholarship for Brittnie. Also included in this list was a wish to one day get a car.
Brittnie, now 16, was shocked when Chevrolet surprised the teen by unveiling a brand new car.

The 2014 Chevrolet Spark was given to Brittnie for being a “Spark of Hope” for America’s youth. She is an incredible example of hard work and great compassion as she splits her time between school and volunteering at the homeless shelter where she mentors children who are currently going through the same thing she did. Her proud parents are back on their feet and are serving as cadets in The Salvation Army.

At the presentation this week, she was led to believe she was there to be interviewed about her family’s past and their experience living in The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter. She had no idea what was in store for her.

see more here

Posted by Jackie on Friday, September 27, 2013 ·

Transitional Living Program Equips Employed, Homeless Men With Tools for Self-Sufficiency

Unveiling the new Men’s Transitional Housing Center in Hickory, NC on July 12, which will serve 11 employed but homeless men in need. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Salvation-Army-of-Hickory/193314167414214

There can be so many reasons for becoming homeless, especially during these tough economic times. Whether you’ve been evicted, deal with substance abuse, face a domestic break-up or any other type of crisis, The Salvation Army is there to lend a helping hand.

The Salvation Army’s Transitional Housing Program is designed for homeless and low-income families and individuals who need help regaining their independence by the power of healing and learning the life skills they need to be successful.  Housing is provided on a temporary basis for varying amounts of time to help individuals get back on their feet.

In addition to food and shelter, most centers provide a variety of educational, health care, counseling, and vocational services to homeless and destitute individuals and families. All programs vary depending on the needs of the community.

One example of this program is our new transitional housing facility that recently opened in Hickory, N.C. This building will provide shelter and services for 11 men for up to two years, who are employed, yet homeless. This particular program is designed to fight the cycle of homelessness by providing these men with the necessary tools they need in order to become self –sufficient through shelter, education and spiritual healing. Skills classes include topics such as budget counseling, substance abuse education, job training, and GED courses. The ultimate goal is for each man to leave the center with enough money for a deposit a permanent residence or a financial cushion.

Each year, The Salvation Army provides more than 10 million nights of shelter to those in need thanks to our generous supporters. We are always seeking volunteers to share life experience skills and mentor clients. To lend your skills to The Salvation Army, click here or visit www.volunteermatch.org for a list of Salvation Army opportunities in your area.

Salvation Army programs vary with local needs. For information on specific programs and locations, contact your local Salvation Army Corps Community Center by doing a zip code search in our website’s Location field.

social services

Salvation Army benefits greatly from Empty Bowls Luncheon


TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) – Polly Smith with The Salvation Army in Tupelo cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner there daily to feed 150 people or so.

Smith said, “I serve chicken dressing, greens, cabbage, barbecue, and anything just about.”

Smith uses food that’s been both donated and bought using donations.

Major Sue Dorman says fund raisers like the recent Empty Bowls Luncheon help keep their kitchen and other services going.

Dorman said, “Fifteen dollars can feed our lodge and a person staying overnight for a day.”

The lodge that’s made for 19 currently houses about 25 people nightly.

The food pantry shelves also are able to stay stocked through the annual Empty Bowls donation.

Dorman said, “Our founder, William Booth, had a little slogan: Soup, Soap and Salvation. You feed them, clean them, and then you can talk to them about Christ. Someone hungry is not going to listen to you.”

Back to the kitchen, that’s exactly why Polly Smith says she tries to make the best meal she can for those who depend on it daily.

Smith said, “I try my best to be in a good mood so they can be in a good mood. There are a lot of people who come in who are in a situation. They’re still happy and that makes me happy.”

Because of the generosity of so many during events like Empty Bowls, The Salvation Army says it’s working to make sure no one has to face a day hungry.

Reported by: Robert Byers
Source: WTVA.com