Help fight food insecurity

food insecurity

Last week, schools across the country were once again filled with eager students- both fresh and familiar faces. It’s a bittersweet time for children as they say hello to old friends and goodbye to the freedom of summer and back to daily classroom and study routines. For most families, it’s a relief to know their kids are guaranteed at least one meal a day.

Nutrition is key for a child’s education. Students who live in food insecure households are at an a disadvantage both academically and physically compared to their food secured peers. This is true for everyone but is especially crucial for children and their development.

According to Feeding America, in 2012, 49.0 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children.

The Salvation Army recognizes the severity of this issue and works to fights food insecurity and help families meet this basic need, and support healthy children in the classroom. One example of how we do this is our food pantries- which provide groceries for individuals and families in need and are essential to battling food insecurity.

But we need your help to fill our food banks!

If you’d like to donate a bag of nonperishable foods to your local Salvation Army food pantry, check out our main website for a list of locations near you:

Can’t get to the store? For monetary donations and other ways to give, visit:

Learn more about The Salvation Army here.

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.

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.”

Salvation Army dealing with overcrowding during summer


Every morning, more than 400 women and children show up to the Salvation Army shelter on Spratt Street hoping there will be a bed available.

“Daily, we do have to turn people away,” said director Deronda Metz.

Metz told Channel 9 the number of homeless families skyrockets during the summer months.

“We have 250 beds here and right now we’re serving 375 women and children,” said Metz.  “Almost 200 of them are children.”

Many families already sleep on the floors or spend the nights sitting in the lobby.

Diane Small sees the crowds first-hand. She’s been staying at the shelter for six months after losing her job and her home.

“The people here, they do everything they can,” said Small. “They multi-task and try to help give you the best resources.”

In past summers, the Salvation Army opened temporary shelters, but they didn’t this year to focus efforts on a big building project.

The Salvation Army plans to renovate the shelter attic in August to create room for 64 new beds.

“Some of the dorm space will be individual rooms,” said Metz.

The $1.4 million project should be finished by the fall.

Until then, the Salvation Army is pleading with area families to help homeless relatives by allowing them to stay in their homes.

“If you can, that would be an ideal situation so we don’t have families struggling not knowing where they’re going to sleep at night,” said Metz.

Small is in the process of getting housing help so she can free up the shelter for another family.

“It won’t be much longer now and somebody else can get this space,” she said.

The Salvation Army believes 75 percent of their residents have some sort of family in the Charlotte area.

They’re also working to train staff on mediating with families.

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

Cold weather shelters open as temperatures drop

shelterFORT MYERS, Fla. – Temperatures are dropping into the 30s tonight. While that’s uncomfortable for most in Florida, it can be downright dangerous for people who don’t have homes. WINK News spent some time at the Salvation Army. It’s just one place that’s making sure everyone has a hot meal and safe place to sleep.

Children and their parents, seniors and war vets all stopped by the Salvation Army in Fort Myers. “We’re staying at the shelter and they’re helping us,” a child named Brandon said with the help of his mother.

When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the shelter opens to everyone. “They would be out in the freezing cold. They would have no other place to go,” Russell Rieder with the Salvation Army said.

“I’m blessed to be able to come into a place and have a bed to sleep in tonight and have a warm meal. It’s awesome,” Clint Seagle said.

But, not everyone chooses to stay. Some eat, bundle up with donated coats, gloves and hats and head back outside. “Under a bridge, in a car,” Rieder explained.

“That’s the tough part is to see people go back out and not know where they are going to put their head down at night,” volunteer Chris Brodd said.

According to the Lee County Homeless Coalition, more than 2,800 people are homeless. The Lee County School Board says about 1,400 of them are children.

“We, unfortunately, lost our apartment and had to come here on an emergency basis,” Jessica Merkaj said. “It’s not easy, especially when you have a kid.”

But, even the youngest guest can understand and be grateful for the basics in life: a meal, a jacket and a bed.

They still need plenty of jackets, hats and blankets for the next cold snap. As tax season approaches, remember, if you itemize deductions, you can write off your donations. See our Donation Value Guide



Lubbock Salvation Army to offer warm place to stay as temperatures drop

Volunteers to provide warm meals, clothing to people on streets

tsaSalvation Army offers warm place

The Lubbock Salvation Army is offering its shelter as a warming station and emergency shelter start until Friday.

Volunteers will be out from 6 p.m. today, Jan. 23, to provide warm meals and clothing to people on the streets through its Survive the Night Program, according to a news release.

Temperatures were expected to drop to 19 degrees Wednesday night, and tonight to be even colder at 11 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Emergency cots will be available at the shelter.

The Homeless Consortium will also be coordinating with the Survive the Night volunteers to get a census of the homeless population in the city.


“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!