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The Salvation Army helps Houston woman overcome obstacles, achieve her dream career at NASA

The Salvation Army helps Houston woman overcome obstacles, achieve her dream career at NASA

Mejean had always loved everything about space, NASA, and technology, but her dream to go to college kept getting postponed.

First, she began a career in law enforcement to help her family with finances, and then she became a mother of two. She always held on to her dream of becoming an engineer and joining NASA, though. She decided to pursue her dream shortly after becoming a mom.

Her family had always been “just okay” living paycheck to paycheck, but after Mejean quit her job to become a full-time student, things became harder for her family. Her husband, Ray, became the sole breadwinner.

Then tragedy struck.

Mejean was hit by a car. Ray quit his job immediately to take care of his wife and tend to her every need. At the time, Mejean was a University of Houston student pursuing a computer engineering degree. The bills began to pile up, and their finances spiraled out of control. They lost everything.

“We didn’t have a car, and we had to depend on the bus to get everywhere,” said Mejean. “At one point, I had to make the decision, am I going to make it to class, or am I going to have enough money to eat?”

Eventually, the family could not pay bills or rent, and the electricity was cut off. They had to move out of the apartment they’d called home for eight years. That is when Mejean did a Google search to find a shelter, and she found The Salvation Army Family Residence. Mejean and her family moved into Family Residence, and things began to come together for the family.

“Everything we needed was there, and I don’t know if I would have had that anywhere else,” explained Mejean. “They talked to us about nutrition, meal planning, finances, and budgeting. I was even seeing a doctor regularly for the first time in 10 years.”

The Salvation Army provided Mejean with a safe space to breathe, self-evaluate and process everything that was happening. When Mejean was ready, The Salvation Army connected her with the United Way of Greater Houston who assisted the family with career placement, apartment down payment assistance, and furnishing their first apartment.

“What I remember most about Family Residence is how great they were with my kids. The kids loved their time there. They remember playing guitar with First Baptist Church, playing games, and going on field trips to Cirque du Soleil.”

Mejean was able to go back to school and went on to graduate in summer 2018, with a job waiting for her at NASA. Currently, Mejean is a Linux developer and configuration management analyst for NASA at the Johnson Space Center.

“People think you are brave when you go through things like this, but when you’re actually going through this, you don’t feel brave. When I moved into Family Residence, I was falling into pieces. But, I left Family Residence with resources and an entire village to help my family and me get to where we are now.”

Source: southernspiritonline.org

The Salvation Army Reaching Unserved Areas After North Texas Tornadoes

DALLAS, Texas (October 24, 2019) – The Salvation Army North Texas Area Command shifted its geographic focus farther east for lunch service yesterday to Dallas’s northeast suburb of Richardson. A catering truck roamed through affected areas of the community to serve food, water, and snacks.

Farther east, Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services staff drove through Garland and Sachse in an effort to identify areas of need, while a second EDS truck remained on the west side of Dallas roaming the area near Love Field airport.

For dinner, 50 meals were delivered to a respite center where disaster survivors can access food and others services, open 7 a.m.. to 7 p.m.. each day. 100 additional meals were served to residents at Southwind Apartments who remain without power. Due to significant structural damage sustained in the storms these apartments have been condemned and residents must move out today. The property management is placing the residents in other apartments that they manage.

To date, The Salvation Army has provided 549 meals, 932 drinks, 952 snacks and made 25 emotional and spiritual care contacts.

Financial donations can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY to support response efforts. For the latest Salvation Army disaster information please go to www.disaster.salvationarmy.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmytexas/ and www.twitter.com/salarmytx

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: 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. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

Florida community supports fight against domestic violence

Florida community supports fight against domestic violence

By: Brad Rowland

For 35 years, The Salvation Army has provided services to people affected by domestic violence in Brevard County, Florida. To commemorate that work, approximately 55 individuals gathered on Oct. 2, for a celebration and awareness breakfast at the Center for Collaboration, a multi-purpose space dedicated to unifying non-profit organizations in Rockledge, Florida.

The giving event, with free admission, celebrated the history of Brevard County’s first domestic violence shelter while also looking to the future and the work of quelling domestic violence in the community. The breakfast featured a presentation on the history of The Salvation Army’s domestic violence programming, as well as a public request for support centering on Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

The Salvation Army provides comprehensive domestic violence services in Brevard County, from helping with court processes to support groups and overall advocacy.

“We really start where the survivor is, and that survivor lets us know what it is they want and need to do,” said Cindy Mitchell, domestic violence program director for the North Central Brevard County Corps. “From there, we assist them with whatever
those goals are. We aren’t limited. We can provide advocacy. Whatever their concerns or goals are, that’s what we want to help them accomplish.”

Brevard County’s program is one of three certified domestic violence centers in the Florida Division. The Army’s work operates in concert with other nonprofit entities, some of whom were recognized at the breakfast.

The message of domestic violence awareness is critical, both in Brevard County and across the country and the world.

“The most important thing in terms of awareness is knowing how people can get help,” Mitchell said. “I think everyone should be providing the domestic violence hotline number (1-800-799-SAFE) and that is an easy, great starting place to help to direct people to the right place.”

“The whole point of why we do what we do is to help survivors, keeping them safe and avoiding further abuse. It doesn’t matter if it is us helping people or another center, our primary purpose is helping others and educating them that help is out there.”

Source: southernspiritonline.org

The Salvation Army of North Texas Distributes Meals in Neighborhoods Affected by Tornadoes

DALLAS, Texas (October 22, 2019) – After nine tornadoes struck parts of North Texas on Sunday night, The Salvation Army stationed a mobile disaster kitchen at Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church in North Dallas where a team of volunteers cooked food for disaster survivors.

Once prepared, the food was packaged and transferred to two smaller food distribution trucks that were driven by workers into affected neighborhoods. Two hundred meals were also delivered to Forest Green Manor, an assisted living center that is still without electricity.

WBAP News/Talk 820 AM & 99.5 FM in Dallas reported the following:

Mika Manester lives near The Home Depot on Forest lane. Volunteers with The Salvation Army brought her food for her family and they prayed. “The house is a total loss so right now I just want my children to be okay and not scared because my 7-year-old is freaking out … we were all in the closet when our roof came off, it was awful,” she said.

Manester said she’s looking for a hotel to stay in and it will take around 8 months to find a new home. She said in all of this mess, she’s thankful for the support. “I have so many good friends…Salvation Army is here and just family and outpouring of people who just want to help and that means more to me than anything,” she said.

Current distribution opportunities remain limited because police have restricted access to the hardest hit areas, not even allowing meals to be delivered at this stage. As the strict access is lifted in upcoming days, new opportunities to serve will emerge.

On Monday, Salvation Army workers served 450 drinks, 380 snacks, and made 12 Emotional and Spiritual Care contacts. On Tuesday, workers served 341 meals, 442 drinks, 508 snacks and made eight Emotional and Spiritual Care contacts.

Financial donations can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY to support response efforts. For the latest Salvation Army disaster information please go to www.disaster.salvationarmy.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmytexas/ and www.twitter.com/salarmytx

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: 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. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

For 27 years, Key Largo family store has benefited from volunteer’s efforts

For 27 years, Key Largo family store has benefited from volunteer’s efforts

By: Rebecca Corum

A few months before Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in the 1950s, Olga Lastra, her husband and two young sons left the country with the notion they would return shortly. However, time passed, and Lastra discovered her home had been taken over by the Castro-led government. By that time, her husband was working on an assignment as a civil engineer in the United States, and that positive fortune allowed for a smoother transition to a new place to call home.

Adjusting to the United States as the new home base for her family, Lastra decided to take a chance that a local boutique would hire her for work. She was, in fact, hired and quickly became a top salesperson. Her exceptional personality and passion for fashion fueled her work.

Lastra and her husband eventually retired in the Florida Keys, settling into yet another new home. Initially, she volunteered for the local animal shelter and was also a committed caregiver for an elderly woman. While accompanying the woman for typical errands, the duo decided to stop at The Salvation Army to do some shopping. Upon arrival, Lastra mentioned to the store’s manager that if she ever needed any help, she’d be just one phone call away. Shortly after, the manager called Lastra with a plea for assistance, citing an extreme situation with staffing and the need for a helping hand. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lastra has been a steady volunteer at The Salvation Army in Key Largo, Florida, for 27 years. Her love for helping others, coupled with her innate love of fashion, have been a perfect fit for her retirement years. Now 90 years strong, she still volunteers on a consistent basis and many customers, from one-time visitors to recurring seasonal regulars, come in expressly to say hello and visit with Lastra.

She regularly shares her passion for The Salvation Army, saying that the organization has been a salvation for herself. Following the passing of her late husband, she found comfort in her continued work in the store. Always the fashionista herself, Lastra continues to curate and maintain the store’s boutique, upscale handbags and jewelry departments and, in recent days, the store held a celebration for her 90th birthday.

Rebecca Corum is the manager of The Salvation Army Family Store in Key Largo, Florida.

Source: southernspiritonline.org

The Salvation Army Serving Affected Neighborhoods After Dallas Tornado

Dallas, Texas (October 21, 2019) – The Salvation Army of North Texas is providing assistance in affected communities after severe weather spawned a tornado that struck the Dallas area on Sunday evening. Several neighborhoods were left without power and structural damage has been reported throughout the areas of the city.

A mobile kitchen and crew from The Salvation Army in Lewisville was activated on Sunday night and provided snacks and hydration to first responders and survivors throughout the evening and into the early hours of Monday morning. The unit set up at a Fire Command Post and served 200 individuals. An additional Fire Command Post was established, and a second Salvation Army unit deployed to this site providing similar support.

“The Salvation Army is actively providing service out in the community after a tornado and severe weather caused significant damage to several areas of the city,” said Major Jonathan Rich, Commanding Officer of the North Texas Salvation Army. “Our trained disaster staff were on the ground within two hours of the tornado touch down and served throughout the night. Alongside our partner agencies we are working on damage assessment today and already have three Salvation Army mobile units roving in affected areas ready to serve food and drinks to residents and first responders, with more units on standby.”

On Monday morning, Salvation Army Rapid Response Units from Irving and Plano, in addition to a mobile kitchen from Fort Worth, were deployed to serve in affected neighborhoods. Disaster response teams from Lewisville and Granbury remain on standby.

An Incident Management Team from The Salvation Army of North Texas was activated on Monday morning and will coordinate response efforts in coordination with local emergency management and voluntary partners.

Several other areas of Texas experienced severe weather on Sunday. A line of thunderstorms moved through Cameron County in South Texas and downed dozens of power lines leaving a number of communities without power. The disaster response team from The Salvation Army of McAllen is providing support to affected residents in Port Isabel.

Financial donations can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY to support response efforts. For the latest Salvation Army disaster information please go to disaster.salvationarmyusa.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/SalArmyTX/ and www.twitter.com/salarmytx

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: 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. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org 

Older adults reinforcing The Salvation Army in Nashville

Older adults reinforcing The Salvation Army in Nashville

By: David Ibata

A partnership between The Salvation Army and an advocacy organization for older adults works two ways in Nashville, Tennessee: The Army gets help with projects like the Red Kettle Campaign and Angel Tree, and the volunteers get the satisfaction of doing good for the community.

“People need to be valued and have a purpose in their lives by being involved,” said Robin Johnson, director of volunteer engagement for FiftyForward, a nonprofit founded in 1956 to provide programs and services for adults 50 years old and older and their families in Middle Tennessee.

With the FiftyForward RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), “our mission is to support, champion and enhance life for those 50 and older, so keeping older adults connected to their communities through volunteer service is a big part of my job, by arranging volunteer projects,” Johnson said.

Five years ago, residents of Dandridge Tower, a senior apartment building, started working with The Salvation Army Nashville Area Command as Angel Tree helpers. To date, 21 people have come out to serve at various times. These volunteers themselves are Angel Tree recipients, “so it is so meaningful for them to be part of this Nashville tradition,” Johnson said.

This year, on Oct. 2, eight Dandridge residents helped prepare kettle kits to go out with Red Kettle Campaign bell ringers in December – folding and packing T-shirts along with handbells and candy packets. Some also sanded down and spray-painted metal kettles.

Working in an Angel Tree warehouse requires lifting and carrying, tasks that were getting to be too much for some, Johnson said. “The staff at The Salvation Army has been really great working with me to find a project where volunteers can sit around a table and do something. That’s why our project this year was the kettle kits.”

“When FiftyForward arranges these opportunities and I drive a bus over there to pick everyone up – we always go out to lunch afterward, a big treat for everybody – they really enjoy being needed, a chance to be part of something big,” Johnson said.

Volunteering has been correlated with positive health outcomes, particularly for older persons, she said. “By working with us to help arrange these volunteer opportunities, The Salvation Army is really also serving these older adults by providing them with opportunities to help them be connected, have a purpose and provide value. That’s why I think these projects are so popular with the Dandridge Tower community.”

Source: southernspiritonline.org

TSA Outdoors provides avenue for ministry through nature

TSA Outdoors provides avenue for ministry through nature

By: Brad Rowland

This summer, an 11-member group from the USA Southern Territory ventured to Bridger-Teton National Forest, outside of Jackson, Wyoming, to take part in the American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS). The Salvation Army’s delegation, sponsored with a grant from Safari Club International, arrived through the TSA Outdoors program, and a meaningful, week-long journey was in the offing.

TSA Outdoors began in the USA Central Territory and, beginning in 2017, the Southern Territory adopted the enterprise with an eye toward making holistic outdoor opportunities available to individuals through camping, character-building and community center programs. In an overall sense, the initiative seeks to offer practical support and ideas for the interconnection of outdoor education and corps programming already in existence.

While TSA Outdoors initially centered on camping programs, that focus has expanded, and the early returns are encouraging.

“We are noticing how TSA Outdoors is bringing families together” said Captain Valentina Cantu, assistant territorial youth secretary. “There are no barriers to this. It’s really cool that everyone can be involved, and we see a lot of ministry opportunities that the Army can utilize in the present and future.”

Leaders from across the territory took part in the 2019 visit to the AWLS, and their trek included archery, fly fishing and other active undertakings. Beyond that, were plenty of opportunities to take in God’s creation through nature and, while AWLS operates beyond The Salvation Army, the training was specifically tailored to what the Army has to offer.

“We’re slowly seeing fewer and fewer children spending time outside,” said Captain Cantu. “The whole idea that is that nature is a wonderful thing, and we should be passionate about sharing that idea. Our passion goes beyond camp. This can be a 365-day kind of thing where we really push to get youth, and even adults, out in nature and growing closer to God.”

The TSA Outdoors program includes several key components, such as the concept of learning by doing, building positive habits, enjoying supervised activity and experiencing the outdoors in a fresh way. Camping curriculum is a natural fit, but progress is already being made in the South to incorporate the use of outdoor programming through other corps activities. Archery clubs are emerging in multiple corps and, soon, Kroc Centers, Boys & Girls Clubs and after-school programs could reap the benefits from expanded use of the program.

The 11-person delegation in 2019, made up of local and divisional leaders, was the largest from the Southern Territory in the three years since the partnership began and, in the future, the group could expand.

“If you’re passionate about getting kids to learn, love and explore the outdoors, this is a great opportunity to learn and to be inspired on how to do that,” Captain Cantu said. “It’s a chance to learn about resources that are available and there are so many things the Army can implement at various levels that involve the outdoors and beautiful ministry.”

Source: southernspiritonline.org

Community programs trigger growth at Dallas corps

Community programs trigger growth at Dallas corps

The Pleasant Grove Corps in Dallas is experiencing a wonderful time of growth. A complete remodeling of the corps building was recently completed and that progress has been more than matched within the congregation of the corps. Within the last six months, 47 new soldiers have been enrolled at the Pleasant Grove Corps under the leadership of Majors Angel and Valerie Calderon.

Majors Jon and Barbara Rich, area commanders for the North Texas Area Command, conducted the most recent soldier enrollment on Sunday, Sept. 8, that saw 17 senior soldiers and two junior soldiers commissioned. In February 2019, seven junior and 21 senior soldiers were enrolled.

The corps offers a diverse range of programming to the community that includes a performing arts school, ballet academy and sports programs such as soccer, basketball and volleyball. The corps recently started adult soccer leagues for men and women.

An after-school program is available where school-age children can receive homework assistance, and a Friday youth night engages young people in activities, all in the safety and friendly Christian environment found at The Salvation Army.

“Our corps activities and outreach programs have provided our soldiers and church members the opportunity to invite their friends and neighbors to get involved at The Salvation Army,” said Major Angel Calderon. “Even more than becoming a place to relax, make friends and enjoy sports activities, our soldiers are also evangelizing and bringing new souls into the kingdom. We praise God for all that is taking place at the Pleasant Grove Corps.”

Source: southernspiritonline.org

Salvation Army Provides Comfort After New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel Collapse

New Orleans, Louisiana (October 13, 2019) – A Hard Rock Hotel building that was under construction in downtown New Orleans partially collapsed on Saturday. Two deaths have been reported to date as a result of the collapse. An unconfirmed number of injuries have also been reported. The Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans was on hand to provide emotional and spiritual care to family members and loved ones who were standing vigil near the site on Sunday. 

“I spoke with the families of those who passed away and prayed with all who wanted prayer. It is a privilege to be able to offer comfort to people who are hurting so much,” said Roy Fischer, Salvation Army Mission Specialist with The Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans. “Please join me in praying for the City of New Orleans, first responders, those who were injured, and the families of those who lost their lives in this horrible accident,” Roy said. 

The cause of the building collapse is currently unknown.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: 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. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

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Source: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org