Love and acceptance helps Florida man reconnect with hope

Love and acceptance helps Florida man reconnect with hope

Just a few months ago, Ray Kinder could not imagine being clean, being out of jail, being hopeful. When you look at Kinder today, you could not, for one minute, imagine him being anything but.

Kinder grew up in a church-going family, but all was not right. His father was a career criminal, coming and going from prison. When his father was not in jail, he was abusing his mother and modeling the alcoholic lifestyle. He eventually ended up with a life sentence for armed robbery. People would speak over Kinder that he would be just like his dad. It had its effects.

Kinder was in juvenile detention 12 times. He got addicted to drugs in middle school and continued to make bad choices for the next two and a half decades. He was in jail, some maximum-security ones, 23 times. Each jail time was just a pause from his crack addiction, and the pause button would be reset when he got out.

“My reality was too hard to take,” he said. “I knew how much pain I was causing my mom, my family. It just pushed me deeper into addiction. It was the loneliest, most isolating, tumultuous nightmare. I was just a zombie that didn’t care about anything. I stepped off the cliff into hopelessness.”

Last year, while out on bond, Kinder went to visit his aunt. He was totally out of his mind, high and incoherent. His aunt called the police, who took him to First Step. While at First Step, he learned of The Salvation Army. He was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and he was willing to give the Army a try. When Ryan from The Salvation Army in Sarasota, Florida, came to pick him up a few days later, Kinder’s brain told him not to get on the bus. He said something, maybe God, pushed him to get on the bus.

Ryan told him everything was going to be OK, this was a new beginning for him, and he was going to find his purpose and a plan. Ryan was his first exposure to the love and acceptance that he was about to receive.

During December, Kinder volunteered to help pick up Angel Tree gifts and said he “overdosed on the love” that was shown to him at each location. He also realized that at The Salvation Army, he was surrounded by people who truly understood him and
his addiction. He was also among other people who were just like him. He “was not as unique as (he) thought. They showed me there was a way out I could never see before. There is a reason they call this the Center of Hope; I do have hope now.”

Kinder is taking things one day at a time. He remarked that “The Salvation Army gave me my hope back; it saved my life. If God can do this for someone like me, he can do this for anyone.” Kinder is protective of the “precious and valuable gift he has been given and is not going to give it up.”

The biggest challenge for Kinder now is employment. He will commence soon and is praying someone will give him a chance.

His advice in the meantime for others like him: “If you think for one second that your life is gone and you’ve tried everything else in life, but it never worked for you, there is a place, and the name of this place is The Salvation Army. If you are truly ready to live, give this place a try.”


Clarksville community garden yields seeds of hope

Clarksville community garden yields seeds of hope

By: David Ibata

Captains Dawn and Jonathan Whitaker had an inspiration for doing something green at the Clarksville, Tennessee, Corps: a garden to provide fresh produce for shelter residents and the community. But how to do it in an urban campus covered in concrete?

They shared on Facebook, asking for donations of lumber to build raised planting beds, and for hay and soil to fill them. A host of angels responded.

OK, not a host. An angel named Amy Unruh.

“When I first heard Dawn was looking for someone to help with a garden at The Salvation Army, I thought that was just a wonderful idea,” said Unruh, who with her husband Benjamin and their three children own Three Mustard Seeds Farm in the Tennessee countryside near Clarksville.

“It’s actually been a goal of mine, to get us back to more self-sustaining ways of food production,” Amy Unruh said. “A garden is healing in so many ways.”

Captain Dawn agreed: “There’s just something about getting your hands in the dirt. It can completely erase your mind of whatever it is that troubles you, just by working and pulling weeds.”

The Salvation Army emergency shelter in Clarksville is open nightly and can accommodate 24 men and 18 women in separate dormitories; four units are available for families with children. Guests are provided with linens, toiletries and morning and evening meals.

Growing the food they eat can build self-esteem among shelter residents, especially the children, Captain Dawn said. “When you’re not as self-sustainable as you want to be, even if it’s just picking a tomato, there’s some ownership and healing in that, that you’ve made something good come out of the ground.”

“Amy texted me, ‘Let’s keep planting seeds of hope!’ and Jonathan said that should be the name!” Seeds of Hope Garden will have a series of raised gardens made of cedar. The Unruhs are constructing four 3-by-6-foot beds for the main plot, two 4-by-2-foot beds for the side of the corps building, and a single 3-by-6-foot bed with vertical planters for a narrow space behind the building.

The community is pitching in to help.

“We have some wonderful local companies we’re working with,” Amy Unruh said. “The beautiful thing about Clarksville is, we come together as a community to make projects like this a success.”

The Compost Company of Ashland City, Tennessee, is donating soil; and Greenfield Trucking of Clarksville, gravel. As soon as the dirt is delivered, this year’s crops will go in: tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans, okra and collards.

Shelter residents who wish to will tend Seeds of Hope, possibly assisted by volunteers from the community. Principal tasks will be watering, weeding and feeding. A farmstand offering free, freshly harvested produce is a possibility.

“Anyone who’s walking by who’s in need of fresh groceries, who’s not comfortable coming into the shelter for help, will have something available right out front,” Amy Unruh said. “I hope the garden provides joy and peace as well.”


Men of Carolinas welcomed ‘home’

Men of Carolinas welcomed ‘home’

By: Brad Rowland

Come home. Come home.
Ye who are weary, come home
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling
Calling, O sinner, come home.

In late April, more than 450 men gathered at Camp Walter Johnson under the theme of “Come Back Home,” and a blessed time of fellowship and activity occurred. The North and South Carolina Division hosted its annual men’s camp with a wide range of activities, including more than 40 sports and leisure competitions. Good-natured battles occurred on the softball and basketball courts, with others spending time fishing, playing air hockey, or engaging in strategic rivalry with chess and dominoes.

Though the recreational aspect is important and outreach-driven, the centerpiece of the weekend was the worshipful gathering in the camp’s chapel. Special guests Bean and Bailey, a comedic and worship-filled musical duo, and transMission, the Southern Territory’s modern worship outfit, helped to bring at atmosphere of worship and first-person accounts inspired throughout the weekend.

Walton Jeanette of Washington, N.C., uplifted those gathered with an energetic testimony of God’s healing, while Lieutenant Zachary Good of Henderson, N.C., shared intimately about the work of Jesus in his life as a Salvation Army officer. In tandem, Ken Brown of Greensboro, N.C., shared, “I’m so grateful that wherever I go, I have a savior that will always bring us back home. I’m thankful for that.” Michael Mott of Goldsboro, N.C., also provided an engaging time of reflection, sharing his story of overcoming anxiety and alcoholism with an eye toward a call to officership.

Major Mark Satterlee, territorial men’s ministries secretary, served as keynote speaker, challenging the men assembled throughout the weekend to be the mentors and role models needed in the community.

“I just want you to know, you’re more important than you think you are,” Major Satterlee said. “The men that made an impact on my life were the men I looked up to in the corps. It doesn’t have to be something where you decide to ‘mentor’ someone, but you have to know that kids are looking up to you and thinking they want to be like you.”

The overarching focus on the story of the Prodigal Son was poignant, with reflection on the central Scripture from Luke 15:11-32. By Sunday morning, the hundreds congregated sang about coming home in unison, knowing that the opportunity was available to do just that, even for those with checkered histories.

“Our hopes and prayers for the weekend was that men would respond to the Holy Spirit and ‘Come Back Home,’” said Major Don Vick, divisional secretary for personnel and organizer of the weekend. “Our focus on the story of the Prodigal Son was a message that related to many of the men and the response at the altar was evident that the message was timely.”


‘Rise’ to victory: 2019 Youth Councils

‘Rise’ to victory: 2019 Youth Councils


Majors Steve and Wendy Morris, Captain Amber Morris, and Lieutenant Christmas Hargrove welcomed 212 delegates and leaders to Camp Hidden Lake for the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Division Youth Councils, March 8-10. Guests for the weekend were Commissioners Willis and Barbara Howell and Captains Dan and Sarah Nelson. In keeping with the 2019 Youth Councils theme, “RISE,” over the course of several days, Captain Wendy Morris shared the message, “Rise Against Destruction”; Captain Sarah Nelson, “Rise to Wisdom”; Lieutenant Hargrove, “Rise to Forgiveness”; Major Steve Morris, “Rise Against Shame”; and Commissioner Willis Howell bringing the final challenge Sunday, “Can You Rise?” Among the activities: Friday night fun with food, trampolines and a “Ninja Warrior” obstacle course; a performance by Christian rap artist AHA Gazelle; Saturday presentations of awards and Levels 1 and 2 Corps Cadet certificates and six Corps Cadet graduates; and an outing to the Sky Zone Trampoline Park and a Saturday night “Color Wars” contest with delegates completing challenges as teams, and ending at the ball field for an explosion of color. All weekend long, the altar was lined with young people seeking Jesus. Fifteen affirmed a call to local leadership, and 10 acknowledged a call to officership.


Majors Lewis and Jaqulyn Reckline and Captains Nick and Fallyn Garrison welcomed 270 delegates and leaders to Camp Heart O’ Hills on April 12-14 for Arkansas-Oklahoma Youth Councils 2019. Guests were Lt. Colonels Eddie and Kathy Hobgood, Captains Dan and Sarah Nelson, and Cadets Michael and Amanda Cain. Friday evening, keynoter Captain Nick Garrison taught about the strength and courage God gave Joshua – the same strength and courage available to each of us. Saturday morning brought awards and the Corps Cadet graduation, with 26 Level 1 Certificates and four Level 2 certificates presented and nine Corps Cadets graduated. Lt. Colonels Eddie (“Joe the Turk”) and Kathy Hobgood challenged delegates about their continued faithfulness as young Salvationists. Saturday evening brought a keynote talk by Captain Sarah Nelson on the character of Joshua: He trusted in God and understood it is HE who supplies the victory. At Sunday morning worship, Lt. Colonel Eddie Hobgood shared how each of us will face a “Jordan” that God will empower us to cross — but it requires our faith and obedience. The colonel challenged everyone to imagine the distance from their chair to the altar as their “Jordan.” Many responded by coming forward.


Captains Matt and Jamie Satterlee welcomed 561 delegates to the 2019 youth councils March 22-24 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida, to reflect about the power of Jesus Christ and within us in order to rise, despite the circumstances. Friday evening, Grant Partrick shared from Matthew 16, where Jesus asks: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” “What about you?” Patrick asked. Saturday evening, a Rise worship experience used music, dance, drama and the spoken word to reveal our struggles: Loneliness, early pregnancy, violence, bullying and the quest for beauty. Sunday, Captain Valentina Cantu and Captain Jamie Satterlee led Corps Cadet graduation. Captains Israel and Claudia Roseno, using an analogy of a mouse trap, asked all wanting to become officers to step forward; many did. Commissioner Willis Howell spoke of letting go of our earthly weights so we can rise up with Jesus. He concluded with Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”


Lt. Colonels William and Debra Mockabee and Captains Matt and Rebecca Trayler welcomed 320 delegates and leaders to Epworth by the Sea in St. Simons Island for Georgia Youth Councils, March 29-31. Jovanie Smith hosted pre-show games, joined by guests Lt. Colonels Eddie and Kathy Hobgood, Captain Valentina Cantu and Cadet Trey King. Special speaker Steve Carter brought the message each day. Making the youth councils theme RISE into an acronym, he gave each letter a meaning:
• R — Redemption: Many of us feel discouraged, lonely and anxious, but what Christ has done has set us free.
• I — Identity: Remember who you are; 1 Peter 2:9 says we are a chosen people. “Eagles don’t fly with pigeons.”
• S — Sprit: It’s a gift from the Lord. It sanctifies us and makes us wholly holy.
• E — Engage: Put these three elements together and engage the culture.
At Saturday morning’s Corps Cadet graduation and awards session, 23 received a Level I certificate, three received a Level II certificate, and 11 graduated the program. Sunday, when Captain Missy Romack led the call to officership, 18 delegates came forward.


“Bold and Courageous” bracelets, handed out to 368 delegates of the Kentucky-Tennessee Paradise Division as they arrived for the Friday night opening session of youth councils 2019, reflected the theme of the March 29-31 event, especially the “rising above” messages brought by special speaker Ryan Leak. The councils, led by Majors Jim and Linda Arrowood, divisional leaders, and Captains Matt and Danielle Cunningham, took place at the Park Vista Doubletree in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Special guests were Leak and candidates’ and associate candidates’ secretaries Captains Israel and Claudia Roseno. “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Leak asked in his message, “Rise Above Failure.” Saturday brought chorus, timbrel, drama, dance and band performances; awards including 15 Corps Cadet Level 1 certificates and six Level 2 certificates; a visit to Gatlinburg; and more messages from Leak – “Rise Above Comparison” and “Rising Above Your Past.” Sunday morning saw delegates in full uniforms for worship, Leak speaking on “Rising Above Offenses,” and the graduation of seven Corps Cadets. A call to officership by Captains Roseno saw 27 individuals stepping forward.

Maryland-West Virginia

In the Canaan Valley in Parson, West Virginia, 236 delegates plus leaders gathered April 5-7 for youth councils 2019. Special Guests included Steve Carter, Lt. Colonels Jim and Karol Seiler, and Captains Israel and Claudia Roseno. Every session began with a “Masked Singer” competition. No one knew the singer’s identify behind the mask and costume of the Shark, Dinosaur, Unicorn and Parrot. In the final round, the Shark (Lieutenant Chris Raymer) won. Throughout the weekend, the Call to Mission and Call to Officership were emphasized. Highlights and testimonies focused on one’s “calling,” with testimonies from Majors Ann and Art Penhale and Cadet Rachel Pruitt. Carter powerfully challenged the youth through the word RISE – Redemption, Identity, Spirit, and Ethic – by studying the story of Joshua. At Saturday’s Corps Cadet graduation, two Level 1 Certificates and 11 Level 2 Certificates were awarded. A special treat, a video message from General Brian Peddle, was presented for the eight Corps Cadet graduates. The general called each by name, congratulated them, and encouraged them in their Christian walk. Sunday morning, Captain Jonathan Howell invited youth to surrender their hearts to Jesus and seek his strength; many came to the altar.

National Capital-Virginia

Lt. Colonels Mark and Carolee Israel, Captains Samuel and Christine Kim, and Captain Jervonne Hinton welcomed 320 delegates and leaders to the Westfields Marriott Hotel in Chantilly, Virginia, March 15-17, for National Capital Virginia Youth
Councils 2019. Guests were Lt. Colonels Allan and Fiona Hofer, Captain Claudia Roseno and Captain Valentina Cantu, and the special speaker, former NFL player Shawn Harper. Friday night’s opening games were followed by a video introduction – intruders at Camp Happyland! – to Captains Kim, the new divisional youth leaders. Harper preached a message of salvation and asked delegates to come forward if they wanted Jesus to be their source of power; the altar was flooded. Saturday began with Corps Cadet graduation and awards. Harper reminded delegates they are world changers, children of God and leaders who need to be strong and courageous. That evening, Harper spoke on the theme, “Do Not Be Afraid.” Again, delegates flooded the altar, obedient to the command, “Go and tell.” Sunday morning, Lt. Colonel Allan Hofer delivered the Word: Turn your eyes away from the crisis and know God is in control.

North and South Carolina

Young people and leaders of the North and South Carolina Division gathered at Camp Walter Johnson on March 29. Hosted by Commissioners David and Barbara Jeffrey and led by Captains Jimmy and Lacy Parrish, youth councils was supported by Lt. Colonels Allan and Fiona Hofer and Captains Dan and Sarah Nelson. Friday evening, Captains Parrish challenged the delegates with a message from Joshua 1:9: “God sees leadership in you! He uses ordinary people to reach people.” Fun activities included a “Clash of the Clans” Friday night, and a cardboard box-car derby Saturday morning. Guest speaker Ketric Newell brought two messages, driving home the promise of God to be with Joshua wherever he went. “Somehow the world knocks out our ability to believe,” Newell said, “but Jesus wants to do things WITH you.” Then, everyone changed into dress attire for Corps Cadet graduation. Twenty-five were awarded Level One certificates, and eight received Level Two certificates. Eight graduated the program. Lt. Colonel Fiona Hofer challenged Corps Cadets to be salt and light in the world. Lt. Colonel Allan Hofer brought the message Sunday morning: “When you follow God, you no longer walk by logic, you walk by faith. He is with you. Rise up and cross your Jordan!”


Young people and leaders of the Texas Division gathered at Camp Hoblitzelle on April 5 for their youth councils weekend. Hosted by Lt. Colonels Ronnie and Sharon Raymer and led by Captains Bill and Stephanie Mockabee, the councils was supported by Colonel Susan Bukiewicz and Captains Dan Nelson from territorial headquarters. Also joining them were Texas Cadets Roger and Lindsey Galabeas from Evangeline Booth College. Special guest speaker for the weekend was Ryan Leak. Set
against the backdrop of an 80’s theme, the weekend included four main sessions, a color run around camp, a masquerade award night, “Areopagus” discussion forums, and time to hang out with friends at camp. The “Rise” theme was seen in each main session with a specific way to rise: rise above failure; rise about limitations; rise above distractions; and rise above
comparison. Of significant importance to the weekend were the discussion groups that took place during or at the end of each session. In these times, corps groups gathered together and discussed the message that was shared and how it applied to their lives. They also had time to pray together.


Charlotte’s Belmont club gets lunch, surprise visit from golf star Rory McIlroy

Charlotte’s Belmont club gets lunch, surprise visit from golf star Rory McIlroy

It’s not every day that a kid gets to speak with one of the top athletes in the world on FaceTime. But Boys & Girls Club members from the Belmont Avenue Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, had the chance to chat with professional golfer Rory McIlroy this week, as he took time out of his schedule at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte to check in on the club’s kids.

In celebration of his 30th birthday, McIlroy and his corporate partner Optum provided healthy lunches for Belmont Avenue Club members on Wednesday, May 1. The call was an added treat, as the kids had the opportunity to ask the world-famous golfer a few questions and sing him “Happy Birthday.” McIlroy finished the tournament tied for eighth place on the leaderboard.

The healthy lunches were a part of McIlroy’s and Optum’s effort to support and encourage children to participate in the Boys & Girls Club Healthy Choices program. The Healthy Choices program emphasizes good nutrition, regular physical activity and improving overall well-being. McIlroy and Optum provided approximately 500 lunches for all Charlotte Boys & Girls Club locations on May 1.

“Someone once told me, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see,’ so having Rory come into our environment gives the kids here the opportunity to see something new that they might aspire to or enjoy as a hobby,” said Major Larry Broome, Charlotte area commander. “We are so thankful to Optum and Rory for this. I think he’ll have a lot of new young fans cheering him on through the championship.”


New Bern, N.C., Corps fights the good fight to return to facility

New Bern, N.C., Corps fights the good fight to return to facility

By: Brad Rowland

When Hurricane Florence made landfall in mid-September, it was the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the Carolinas. Thousands of people were displaced and billions of dollars of property damage ensued. The Salvation Army responded with widespread deployment in the area of emergency disaster service.

That work continued for weeks and months but, in New Bern, North Carolina, the Army’s work was directly affected by storm damage to its facilities. The corps building was flooded more than four feet deep, essentially wiping out the entirety of its interior. The Family Store adjacent to the property also sustained considerable flooding damage. In a different part of the city, roof damage occurred to another Family Store – and, thus, multiple plates were spinning for Captain Curtis Kratz, corps officer, and those tasked with continuing the work in the region.

Because of the damage to the corps building, regular church activities were forced to relocate while the facility could be reassessed, leaving Captain Kratz and his staff searching for options. Fortunately, through an advisory board connection, a temporary worship location was donated by Thomas Development, Inc. (TDI) in the form of a storefront. Though the original plan was to house the corps in that location for three months, construction delays resulted in another three months of waiting. Still, the facility proved to be more than adequate, with youth programming continuing in the space and Sunday morning worship convening each week.

Elsewhere, The Salvation Army’s administrative offices avoided substantial storm damage, which proved pivotal in continuing social service delivery. The building also housed youth Sunday school activities, with children gathering at the temporary corps location and busing to the administrative building, only to be brought back for traditional worship.

“In other appointments, the corps building and the social services were under the same roof and, in New Bern, that isn’t the case,” said Captain Kratz. “Originally, I didn’t like that but, after the hurricane, I was praising God and overwhelmingly thankful that it wasn’t set up that way here.”

By early April, the corps family was able to move back into its newly renovated facility. A full dedication and anointing of the structure is planned for the future when furniture and accommodations are fully installed. In the meantime, however, The Salvation Army continues to provide a spiritual home for many and serve the community, despite the challenges posed by Hurricane Florence’s devastation.

“There was some frustration because, when we wanted to be serving people and doing what we’re called to do, we were dealing with the issues from being displaced,” Captain Kratz said. “But we’re still here, back up and running, and ready to serve in the best way possible with a new normal.”


Yoga classes are flying high at the Kroc Center of Memphis

Yoga classes are flying high at the Kroc Center of Memphis

By: David Ibata

Is “aerial yoga” a passing fad or the next big fitness option? One or the other, it’s generating plenty of buzz for The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

“It’s a lot of fun,” instructor Katie Veach said. “People enjoy the inversion part of the class; that is what makes it a unique challenge. In most fitness and yoga classes, you don’t have the ability to go upsidedown.”

In April, the Kroc Center in Memphis became one of the first in the area to offer VATA Aerial Yoga. A New York Times article of 2011 credits the idea, also known as “suspension yoga” and “anti-gravity yoga,” to “Christopher Harrison, a former aerial acrobat and gymnast who found traditional yoga too hard on his injured wrists.”

To teach it, Kroc Center staffers completed certified instructor training from YogaBody, an international yoga education center and seller of yoga trapezes, accessories and other supplies. Veach, who also is health and recreation director at the Kroc Center, said the trapeze “is like a hammock or a sling, and has handles. It’s a cool and unique apparatus.”

The Kroc Center introduced VATA aerial yoga in April during a spring promotion of new health and wellness programs. One-hour classes meet twice a week; monthly workshops also are offered. The additional-fee program has a drop-in rate of $8 a session or $40 a month. Kroc Center members with studio passes have unlimited access.

Currently, about 20 people a week participate – women and some men, as young as 16 and as old as in their 60s. Classes have an average attendance of eight; one-on-one training also is available. Students meet in the third-floor Challenge Center, where the functional training area can be found. “We already had mounts for TRX straps, so we just had to add more hooks,” Veach said.

“People are really excited about it,” she said. “I’ve talked to someone about it every day since we launched the program. Our own Kroc staff has expressed interest and participated in the class during office hours. Both our members and employees have really taken to it, faster than any other programs we’ve added.”

Participants quickly come to appreciate the stress relieving aspect of hanging upside-down.

“It’s inversion therapy,” Veach said, “which provides instant traction to the spine to relieve back pain, allows for flexibility for deeper backbends and shoulder openers, and trains functional strength to the core and full body.”

“Right now, it’s an open-level class. We don’t have beginner or advanced levels yet; we’ll see if we want to add that after we’ve gained more exposure.”

The sky is the limit for the Kroc Center of Memphis.


Soldiers have a role to play in Pathway of Hope

Soldiers have a role to play in Pathway of Hope

By: David Ibata

A woman enrolled in the Pathway of Hope has lost her children to the state and is working on her life skills to get them back, but visitation is far away and she doesn’t have a car. She knows you’re a Salvation Army soldier, and she asks if you can give her a ride. What would you do?

“The first answer would be, don’t do that; there are Safe From Harm issues,” said Major April Taylor, corps officer in Waco, Texas. “A corps officer would speak to this person and see if we can get her the services she needs.”

That’s a lesson one might encounter in “Soldiers Along the Pathway of Hope,” a complementary training program developed by the Texas Division.

Pathway is unique in that it intentionally integrates pastoral care and social services for families that request the support. Soldiers – the frontline troops of a corps – can play an important role.

“We want the soldiery to be involved,” said Taryn Piatkowski, Pathway of Hope divisional specialist for Texas. Just as case workers help people meet physical needs – for food, shelter, budgeting, job finding and other necessities – “The Salvation Army has the internal resources, through the corps, to meet spiritual and emotional needs.”

“The pushback we got from case workers was that while it’s great to have more volunteers, they’d need to be trained in the ethics, confidentiality and boundaries of working with vulnerable families,” Piatkowski said.

Hence, Soldiers Along the Pathway of Hope, an idea developed by Piatkowski; Kim Ogilvie, divisional social services director; and Major Anthony Juliana, divisional program secretary.

There’s the desire to “put the mission and ministry” of The Salvation Army – the WHY of sharing the gospel message – “back in the hands of the soldiers,” Major Juliana said. And, the need among Pathway clients “for a connection, an anchor,” to a caring community.

“We understand in the Army that corps officers are the passing parade – we’re the ones who leave and change appointments from time to time – but our soldiers are the ones who stick around,” Major Juliana said. “Families have a tendency to connect with families, and individuals, with individuals. We said, why don’t we connect our Pathway of Hope families with families in the congregation?”

The Texas Division ran a pilot session with 15 soldiers from the Waco Corps last October. A second session was held in February at local officers council at Camp Hoblitzelle, Texas. The training was so well received, Texas was requested to present it as an offering in April at The Salvation Army National Social Services Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

To guide Pathway clients from crisis to sufficiency, Major Taylor said, “the first place to start is the corps. That’s an already created community of supportive believers who can come around to an individual, at their choice, to support them and help them through the struggles they may have.”

Training helps soldiers understand a Pathway client’s life challenges, the things out of the client’s control, and the parameters for coming alongside – “what they should and should not be doing to assist a person going through this reorientation back to self-sufficient living,” Major Taylor said.

Or, she added, “how to be involved without being too involved.”

It’s too easy, when trying to help, to fall into the trap of co-dependency. For example, a person may come to the corps in need of milk for their family. Your initial response might be to offer to buy them a gallon of milk. That’s well and good; but the next time, the client may come saying they’re out of diapers and baby food. Eventually, they may start asking for money.

What to do instead? “Let them have a conversation with the corps officer,” Major Taylor said. “It could be a simple solution, perhaps a referral. An officer can judge if there’s a dependency.”

Working collaboratively with the social services team, a corps can provide a strong team of support to help a family achieve their goals.

Tyler Stevenson, a Waco Corps soldier who attended the training with his wife Laura, said it helped them see “how we as a church can help with this Pathway of Hope thing we’re going to be doing in the community, and what we can do as a congregation to help the corps officers.”

“Now that we’ve been through this training, I’m able to give people the information they need, where they need to go, who they can talk to, and the resources readily available to help them” – from rental assistance to housing to the food pantry, Stevenson said.

In the example of the Pathway mother without a car – it really did happen, in Waco – corps members invited her to a young adult Bible study. Through this outreach, Major Taylor said, “she was finding people she could talk to about her situation and about choices – helping her make better choices in a better community group of peers than she had previously.”

“Positive peer groups and positive people at The Salvation Army are lifting her up, offering her prayer and support, and helping her find a community where she’s accepted for who she is.”


USA South welcomes Chief of Staff

USA South welcomes Chief of Staff

By: Christopher Priest

Commissioners Lyndon and Bronwyn Buckingham were welcomed by the USA South in a visit in late April that took them to the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi and Georgia divisions.

Chief of the Staff Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, world secretary for women’s ministries, began their visit as guest speakers for the quarterly meetings of the National Advisory Board in Birmingham, Alabama. The visit coincided with the Birmingham Area Command Annual Dinner attended by over 500 local supporters of the Army’s work and witness. In his dinner address, Commissioner Buckingham spoke of how the NAB event had energized them, highlighting the importance of advisors to the Army’s mission. He talked of meeting people with sincerity, passion, commitment, integrity, expertise and intelligence. He paid tribute to all Salvation Army advisory board members and other volunteers within the USA who give tirelessly to advance the mission. He called for all believers to always “Look Up!” fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

In Jackson, Mississippi, a capacity congregation assembled in the Jackson Citadel Corps building for the ALM Divisional Soldiers Rally. Music and creative arts were interspersed around prayer and testimony. Commissioners Buckingham enthusiastically enrolled 15 junior soldiers and 21 soldiers. In his address, Commissioner Buckingham referenced Paul’s letter to Thessalonica. He challenged the congregation with Paul’s challenge to the new church that as new Christians, all have a growing reputation – a model and example to the world. News of these early Christians was spreading everywhere. This was evidenced by the extent and furthering of their faith, their hope in Christ, the capacity of their love for the Lord and one another, and their anointing by the Holy Spirit. Public decisions were recorded as those responded to the call of Christ on their lives.

At “The World for God” meeting attended by the Georgia Division, THQ and Evangeline Booth College officers and cadets from both sessions, the Chief of the Staff visualized for those gathered the state of the Army, now in 131 countries. Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham shared Scripture, and in her testimony highlighted the vision and planning for greater ministries for and by women in the future. A composite band, timbrel brigade and songsters blessed those present, and the Holy Spirit descended as the chief of the staff used 2 Corinthians 2:14 to capture the essence or aroma of Christ in this challenging world.

“It’s the aroma and fragrance of Christ that we Salvationists need to obtain. You are to be that aroma of Christ in your community,” he said. “Be the flavor of God in the world! In his presence, for his glory, and at his disposal.”

Christopher Priest is the Southern territorial director of communications.


Salvation Army Center of Hope back up and running again in Daytona

Salvation Army Center of Hope back up and running again in Daytona

By: Brad Rowland

When Hurricane Matthew made landfall in 2016, The Salvation Army of Daytona Beach, Florida, sustained damage to its Center of Hope, specifically in the form of roof issues and broken windows. With that said, the structure managed to escape without catastrophic impairment. The arrival of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, however, did cause significant problems.

Though Daytona Beach was not struck directly by the storm in a way that neighboring areas were affected, storm surge flooded the Center of Hope’s first floor after a full evacuation had taken place in the area. As a result, the Army was unable to return to the building, and programming – including social services, dormitories and a computer lab – was displaced.

After more than a year of obstacles and a gradual period of re-acclimation, however, the Center of Hope reopened in January 2019 and a rededication of sorts took place in late March. The newly-minted building includes space for a renovated social services office, veterans programming, Pathway of Hope, residential services, job training and a food pantry.

“With the resources that we had, we kind of gave the building a facelift,” said Major Caleb Prieto, corps officer. “The comments we received at the open house were very encouraging. I think it looks amazing and that was backed up by the feedback. Not only were we able to restore what we had previously, but I think we’re in the best place we’ve been.”

The arrival of Irma and the damage sustained forced the Army’s social services efforts into a time of transition and flexibility. A partnership was struck with a local hotel to house residents displaced by the building closure and, while service delivery had to operate at less than full capacity, both the corps building and additional space at the hotel were turned into offices equipped with the tools to perform case management and other essential activities.

The period of displacement wasn’t navigated without hiccups, including a partnership in concert with the Department of Corrections that was placed on hold due to the structural challenges. Still, the community rallied around the work of The Salvation Army during a trying time, and the future is bright as a result.