Surviving Abuse

Originally featured in The New Frontier Chronicle, a source of news and networking for The Salvation Army. Read more at
A first-hand account of addiction and recovery
By Sherita Mouzon

surviving abuse

Sherita Mouzon with her daughter

Growing up, we used to have to heat the house with kerosene heaters and they were old. The smell from the smoke would get into my clothes and the kids would tease me in school.

I later became a heavy cocaine user; even after I had my daughter at age 31, it was not enough to stop. I wanted to die. I knew God had put me on this earth for a reason and it couldn’t be this.

I grew up in poverty and food insecurity all my life. I witnessed domestic violence and was raped by age 9. I never had a stable home environment and grew up witnessing the multi-generational effects of poverty. I knew I wanted a better life for myself, but did not know how to get there. I was also suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and untreated trauma, so my life was filled with drug use and risky behavior. I didn’t see a future for myself.

When I didn’t have money to buy my daughter anything for Christmas in 2008, I wrote to President Barack Obama requesting a present for my daughter. The White House forwarded my letter to a Salvation Army center in Philadelphia. I received help from one of the social workers there, who gave me three $20 Walmart gift cards and two bags of food.

Shortly after that act of kindness, I joined the Witness to Hunger program at Philadelphia’s Drexel University School of Public Health in 2010. Witness to Hunger is a research and advocacy project that partners with real experts on hunger—mothers and caregivers of young children who have experienced hunger and poverty. Through photographs, “witnesses” advocate for their own families and others and seek to create lasting changes on a local, state and national level.

With my involvement in the program, I was able to get self-help group training based on the sanctuary model by Dr. Sandra Bloom at Drexel University. The sanctuary model is a support group that teaches people how to talk about and heal from trauma and focuses on four main bodies of knowledge: trauma theory, social learning moral intelligence, democracy and complexity theory.

Through this process I realized why I was having self-destructive behavior. I had attachment disorder from my mother never being emotionally present to me and I had PTSD by witnessing the abuse my mom suffered at the hands of my brother’s father. I was also suffering from the shame of being raped by my babysitter’s female daughter. Only by going to a self-help group was I able to heal from the trauma I had suffered for so many years.

After this training, I began working for Drexel and then at the Kroc Center as a peer mentor and running self-help groups. The Salvation Army also wanted this program at the Temple Corps, the same place The White House had sent my letter three years before.

Currently I’m a peer-mentoring caseworker for The Salvation Army and I run self-help groups for the community as well as staff and interns. The Lord has given me a way to share my story and also mentor others. I was not able to help myself until I accepted the Lord’s help. He put me here in this program for a reason.

I’m now sober and living with my husband and daughter. I want people to know that with God’s help any and all things are possible. I was lonely, depressed and angry, and I know other people out there feel the same way and I want to help those people. That’s what this program does.

Trading places: A Homeless Experience

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

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

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.

Braving the cold so others stay warm

Salvation Army Captains Orest and Tracy Goyak pose with Sally Ann before heading out for the Coldest Night of the Year walk, which took place in Maple Ridge on Saturday.

As temperatures hovered around zero, 117 people in Maple Ridge bundled up and braved the cold on Saturday to raise money for the homeless and hungry.

The Coldest Night of the Year walk collected $15,000 for the Salvation Army’s Caring Place and gave people a glimpse into life on the street.

“It’s rather ironic that an event called the Coldest Night of the Year was indeed a really cold night of the year,” said Rebecca Awram, who walked with a team of 21 from Maclean Homes.

“It was really snowy. We all had cold feet.”

Across Canada, 64 communities participated in the annual event, raising $2.2 million.

Participating for the second year, the walk was a tangible way for Awram to give back.

“It was not just about raising money. It was about making a statement,” she said.

“If we find it cold and uncomfortable to go out for an hour, it’s a rather grim reminder of how people live in these conditions.”

Participants from 18 teams signed up to walk a five or 10 kilometres loop through the streets of downtown Maple Ridge and ended their trek at the Caring Place where they warmed up with hot chocolate.

“A lot of people are a little bit scared of the Caring Place but this event gives you a chance to go inside and talk to the people and have a bite to eat with the clients of the Caring Place,” said Awram.

“It normalizes it and makes it less us and them. It shows them that people care.”

The money raised will go towards operating the Caring Place, with much of the funds directed towards its meal program that serves 10,000 meals to 600 clients every month. A portion will also go towards Sonia’s Cradle, a program which helps new mothers and caters bagged school lunches for children in need


Caring Place director Darrell Pilgrim was thrilled by this year’s turn-out.

“It was cold and wet but it allowed people to feel what it’s like to spend even a little bit of time outside,” said Pilgrim.

“It gives people an opportunity to look at the real issues.”

The Caring Place reports that all its shelter spaces have been filled since temperatures began dipping below zero. That includes all 15 of its cold-wet weather mats, available until the end of March, and the 25 beds it has year-round.

The dump of wet snow over the weekend prompted the shelter to add 10 cold-weather mats to its existing 15 and bring in extra staff.

Homeless Count 2014

Metro Vancouver is getting ready to count the number of homeless people on its streets, a tally conducted every three years.

During the 2011 Greater Vancouver Homeless Count, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows were the only municipalities in Metro Vancouver, where the number of people without a roof over their heads increased. One hundred and two people were found homeless in March 2011. That was up from 90 in 2008.

Of the 102 – 40 were housed in emergency shelter facilities, while one person was listed as having no fixed address.

The municipalities were the only place in Metro Vancouver where the number of street homeless also rose – to 61 from 40.

The count also identified a growing homeless youth population, one that was tallied at 29 in 2011 compared to 22 in 2008.

Agencies who work with the homeless believe there’s been a reduction in people living on the streets of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows since the last count was conducted due to subsidized housing and targeted outreach.

The count takes place March 11-12 and organizers say the numbers should be viewed as a snapshot, not a full, accurate picture of homelessness in Metro Vancouver.


by Monisha Martins – Maple Ridge News

“I could never, ever imagine The Salvation Army turning away anyone…”


This post was originally featured on The Salvation Army Western Territory’s blog, Expect Change and was contributed by Kathy Lovin of The Salvation Army Western Territory.

Ricky grew up in a family where there was love, but as a young gay man in the 80s he struggled with his identity. So he stole his parents’ credit cards to buy things he thought he needed to feel good.

When his parents reported the cards stolen, the police investigated the crime and arrested Ricky. His parents tried to drop the charges once they knew he was the guilty party but it was too late. He went to prison anyway.

While he was in prison his mom died. After he got out and began to reorder his life, his dad died. Then his boyfriend decided he couldn’t handle all the upset in Ricky’s life and the emotional baggage it created, so he left too.

Ricky’s answer to all of the despair in his life was to use the knot-tying skills he learned as a Boy Scout to hang himself. Thankfully, the knot broke and a well-timed “welfare check” by his parole officer moments later kept him from trying again.

His parole officer found drugs in the house, so he was off to prison again.

Find out the rest of Ricky’s amazing story about the healing power of Christ’s love and the outstretched hand of The Salvation Army. Click the white arrow to watch Ricky’s testimony video:

As you give this Christmas, you can be assured that The Salvation Army offers its love and service to anyone in need as long as we have the capacity to help.
Now Ricky is on the giving end of God’s love: he is the Assistant Resident Manager at our Adult Rehabilitation Center in Denver, Colorado.

He’s helping men who’ve struggled to get clean of drugs – and the criminal activity that often comes with it – to heal their bodies and minds, learn good work habits, and prepare themselves for what God has planned for the rest of their lives.

Remember that everything you give to or buy from a Salvation Army Family Store helps us care for people who need comprehensive, no-fee, residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Click on for a Family Store location, Adult Rehabilitation Center or donation drop-off site.
Thank you!

Hanes Sock Donation Warms The Hearts & Feet of Shelter Residents

hanes sock

Learn more at

Socks are easy to take for granted. If you’re like me, you have a drawer dedicated to single socks missing their pair, or loud printed pairs meant for only Christmas or Halloween.

Most people are surprised to learn that basic socks are the number one requested item at our homeless shelters. They are the most needed, but least donated article of clothing. And even though folks served by The Salvation Army may have greater needs such as shelter or food, they consistently get excited when offered a new pair of socks. Because honestly, nothing feels as good as a new pair, especially for someone used to wearing damaged, dirty or no socks at all.

This is why we’re thrilled that our generous friends at Hanes, America’s #1 sock brand, are once again warming the hearts and feet of our shelter residents by donating 225,000 pairs of socks to benefit The Salvation Army’s residential facilities.
(Learn how donating this simple item can make a real difference!)

For Hanes’ continued support of Americans in need this holiday season, please help us show them some love by liking Hanes’ Facebook page at! You can also find them on Twitter at using #HanesforGood.

A huge thank you to Hanes for their incredible partnership which benefits so many in need.


Posted by Megan on Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gold coin found in Salvation Army kettle

gold coin salvation army

Volunteers manning Salvation Army kettles in Naperville found a valuable gold coin amid the pocket change.

A 1-ounce South African Krugerrand worth about $1,300 was dropped into a kettle at Casey’s Foods on Dec. 6, according to the group. Casey’s was the site of a Krugerrand donation last year and also had a donor match contributions.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of our wonderful donors,” Salvation Army Aurora Corps Capt. Antonio Romero said in a news release. “The money raised from these red kettles goes directly to help fund the programs and services right here in our communities, so this coin will go a long way toward helping our friends and neighbors in need.”

Over the course of more than 25 years, the Salvation Army has received more than 400 gold coins, according to the group. Money donated in the kettles stay assists people in need with food, shelter, after-school programs and disaster relief.

So far this season, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign has brought in more than $3.3 million, down about 8 percent compared to this time last year, which officials are attributing to the shorter holiday season. The group’s goal is to raise $13 million and it will have kettles on the streets until Dec. 24. Donations can also be made online through Jan. 31 at

By Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune reporter

Salvation Army ringer sets 105-hour ring record

world record bell ringing competition

COLTON, Calif.—Salvation Army Maj. Marcelino “Butch” Soriano got a jump on ringing in the New Year this holiday season by ringing a bell for a record 105 consecutive hours outside a Wal-Mart in Colton this week.
The San Diego man’s reward: An estimated $2,700 he raised for charity and his name in the Salvation Army’s bell-ringing record book alongside those of fellow ringers James Brickson of Albert Lea, Minn., and Andre Thompson of Tyler, Texas, who matched him hour-for-hour.

“I feel a little bit tired, not as tired as I thought I would be,” he told UT San Diego ( after putting down his ringer at 6 p.m. Saturday. “I’m excited the other people all agreed to stop at the same time, so now we have a three-way tie.”

He had originally planned to go for 100 hours, which would have shattered the old mark of 80 that was set last year. After reaching that mark, he considered ringing on until midnight before reaching agreement with his fellow ringers to stop at 6.

There were six contestants when the competition began Tuesday morning.

The rules allowed each ringer a five-minute break every hour that could be rolled over if they chose. Soriano, 46, would save his up so that he could take a 20-minute nap each day.

He said he never considered stopping, not even after someone stole his laptop before dawn Saturday.

“I’m doing great!” he said later Saturday. “People are coming up to me saying, ‘I saw you on the news, go for it, we know you can do it.'”

see the full article here
Associated Press

The General of The Salvation Army Pays Tribute to Nelson Mandela

nelson mandela

Salvation Army General André Cox pays tribute to Nelson Mandela in a letter to the family of the former South African President. He explained that his years spent in Africa had given him ‘a sense of the measure of Madiba’s life and influence’.

So many have already spoken eloquently or written lucidly,’ wrote the General. ‘I would simply wish to salute a great man – one whose character was nourished by hope, expressed through forgiveness, and testified to through reconciliation.’

He concluded: ‘I pray that you would each know the Father of compassion and God of all comfort drawing so very near to you. During this Advent season, may you each experience fully the peace of the Christ child.’

The General and Commissioner Silvia Cox spent four years as leaders of The Salvation Army’s Southern Africa Territory. As The Salvation Army’s first Africa-born world leader it is appropriate that he should pay tribute to the man who has been called the greatest-ever African.

Commissioner William Langa (Territorial Commander, Southern Africa Territory) said in a statement: ‘Mr Mandela’s immeasurable contribution to South Africa cannot be overstated. His commitment to helping the poor and vulnerable, and his pursuit of reconciliation in our divided society was a shining example to those of us who serve the Lord Jesus Christ through The Salvation Army. Salvationists throughout the world have recognised his statesmanship and moral leadership. May his soul rest in peace in the everlasting arms of Christ.’

The General’s letter can be seen in full at

red kettle

Salvation Army ‘Secret Santa’ Strikes Again With $50K Donation

'Secret Santa' Strikes Again

By Katie Kindelan | ABC News Blogs

As harried shoppers were filing in and out of a Joplin, Mo., Walmart on Black Friday, at least one shopper stopped long enough to deliver a major surprise to the two Salvation Army kettle bell ringers standing guard outside.

As they counted their totals on Friday night, Salvation Army officials discovered that wrapped inside dollar bills were five checks of $10,000 each, adding up to a $50,000 donation for the local Joplin chapter.

Salvation Army Bell Ringers Compete for Record

“For us to have that kind of a bonus, a surprise sort of thing that you always hope for but can never count on is really exciting,” said Lt. Jamie Curry of the Salvation Army. “It puts us that much closer to reaching our goal and putting on more services for the community.”

The person or persons behind the $50,000 donation remain anonymous, as she or he (or they) has been for the past decade. Salvation Army officials have nicknamed the anonymous donor(s) “Secret Santa” for the tradition of donating large sums in the kettle each Christmas season.

“It’s never the same person and our bell ringers can’t ever tell you who it was who put the money in because it’s usually wrapped in bills,” Curry said. “It’s always wrapped in a way that we would know it was from ‘Secret Santa.'”

Mystery ‘Santa’ Drops $50,000 in Salvation Army Kettle

Curry estimates the anonymous donor(s) has given at least $500,000 over the past approximately 10 years.

“You can imagine how many people we’ve been able to help with all that,” she said.

This year’s donation, which was the same amount as last year’s, put the Salvation Army $50,000 closer to reaching its Christmas goal of $415,000 in donations. The money will be used to support the organization’s clothing and housing initiatives, including a meal program that feeds 200 to 400 people per day, according to Curry.

“We have some members and longtime staff who have always tried to figure out who it is and who have their theories on who it could be,” she said. “For others, it’s kind of fun to just have the mystery. We like the idea of the anonymity and giving them the opportunity to be anonymous.”

Next year the Joplin Salvation Army will celebrate its 125 th anniversary, which would lead one to imagine what kind of donation the “Secret Santa” might make.

“That would be great. We would love it,” Curry said. “We’re just grateful that that person cares enough about the community to give us that kind of money to work with.”

You can raise money with your own kettle online by clicking here.

Three Fight for World Record at 51 Hours of Nonstop Bell Ringing

Posted by Megan on Thursday, December 5, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Three volunteer bell ringers have fought through 51 hours of nonstop bell ringing to raise awareness for The Salvation Army’s 123rd Red Kettle Campaign and set a new world record. Their efforts are courageous, and will help The Salvation Army assist millions of people this Christmas.

The competition  kicked off Tuesday at 12:00 p.m. noon with six contestants battling to beat the 80-hour world record, established last year in a three-way tie.
Among the ardent few remaining are:
Captain James Brickson of Albert, Lea, MN
Major Marcelino “Butch” Soriano of San Diego, CA
Andre Thompson of Tyler, TX.

Captain James Brickson of Albert Lea, MN is still going strong and feeling positive about his chances for the record.
“I am doing this to help the Albert Lea Salvation Army serve those who are in crisis in Freeborn county. We need financial support to make that happen.” Brickson says he is grateful for the financial supporters so far and for the wonderful volunteers and staff who have kept him company.
You can visit James at Northbridge Mall – 2510 Bridge Ave. Albert Lea, Mn 56007

Salvation Army volunteer, Andre Thompson of Tyler, TX is going strong, “pacing himself and taking breaks only when necessary,” said his representative, Chantel Millin.
“Community members are doing everything they can to help him win,” she said. “A clarinet player came by last night and this morning and played some Christmas tunes. Andre loves music so hearing it live this morning was the perfect way to start the day!”

You can visit Andre at the Walgreen’s on Rieck Road and South Broadway in Tyler, TX.
A WWII veteran visits contestant Andre Thompson outside of Walgreens in Tyler, TX.

Seasoned competitor, Major Marcelino “Butch” Soriano is in it to win it, having competed in the 2011 contest. As of Thursday, December 5 at 3:00 p.m. EST, he’s officially beat his own record of 51 straight hours of nonstop bell ringing!
Last night he posted on Twitter, “Thankful for the continual stream of late night shoppers who put change in the kettle and say “hi”. Keeps boredom from happening. #ringiton“.

You can relieve his boredom by stopping by Walmart Supercenter at 1120 S Mount Vernon Ave, Colton, CA.
Major Soriano counts up the hours of nonstop bell ringing.

You can support their efforts by donating online to the Red Kettle Campaign at We continue to wish them the best and warm thoughts as temperatures drop tonight.