A Veteran Finds a New Home With The Salvation Army

Glynn Smith entered the Army out of high school. The Meridian, Mississippi native got out of the service in 2000, but found himself without a place to stay. For a time, he was living in an abandoned house without any way to seek out a better life. But on August 16th of this year, The Salvation Army of Meridian reopened their men’s shelter, giving men like Glynn Smith a safe, clean place to stay. It also gave him a chance to find a better life.

“If it weren’t for The Salvation Army, I would still be living on the street,” says Smith. But when he came to stay at the shelter, Smith found the opportunity to get into a place of his own. “When he came here, we have beds set aside for veterans, so we allowed him to stay in one of those beds,” says Lt. Tamara Robb of The Salvation Army of Meridian. “When the men stay in our shelter, they have a meeting with our case manager, Stacy Brown, so she knew he had applied for housing. But she was able to help show them he was a veteran, and he was able to get a place to stay within a week of being here,” Lt. Robb says.

Smith was able to afford his new place, and to maintain a budget that Brown helped him create, using his veterans’ benefits. It was one of the ways that The Salvation Army can help those in need find a path away from chronic homelessness. That commitment to veterans, who make up 8% of the homeless population in the United States, is a vital part of The Salvation Army mission.

Today he is thankful for his new place and has made a commitment to give back to the people who have helped him find stability in his life again. When he was staying in the shelter, Smith was known to help out wherever he could. Residents in the shelter have responsibilities as a part of their community, but Smith’s efforts exceeded that routine. “I told her, anything you need me to do around here I’ll do,” Smith says. It was a demonstration of his desire to take care of the place where he was staying, and his continued desire to stay involved with The Salvation Army.

Reconstructing A Life

When Mark Myer came to The Salvation Army shelter in Laurel, Mississippi he could barely walk, and he had no idea how long it would take to recover. He had been working as a cashier at a gas station, but an unexpected injury set him on a difficult path. “I had a hip injury during an altercation defending my sister, and lost my job,” says Mark. Unable to work, and without any other means of support, he soon lost his home and found himself dealing with a physical as well as an emotional recovery.

After getting treatment for depression, but still struggling to walk after his injury, Mark found himself at The Salvation Army shelter. It was a time where he began working on his physical recovery, slowly walking more while looking for a way to return to work. Eventually he found a job working at a local restaurant. “I saved my money and found my own place to live through a housing program (The Salvation Army) helped me find,” he says.

Now that he has found a new job and a new place to stay, Mark has already begun planning for the future. “I’m saving a little bit more money, hopefully get a little better job and eventually get to a place where I am doing a little better than I was before. I’m already saving up to get a car, and that will help me out a lot,” says Mark.

It is a process that he believes will take some time. But he has found himself becoming more a part of the community as a result of what he has experienced through The Salvation Army. “What was most impressive to me is that there are people interested in helping other people reconstruct their lives,” Mark says. “You see people come through here for different reasons. It inspired me to continue to work to see how I can continue to be a part of this program and help others in this community the way they helped me,” he says.

Mark says that he has found a lot of help through the spiritual message of The Salvation Army and their mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. “I started going to Bible meetings while I was staying in the shelter, and I’ve been going to church here on Sunday’s,” Mark says. That mission is to reach out and help people up who are hurting is why he now feels so connected to the community he found through The Salvation Army. “I’ve seen people who were former users, people who didn’t look so good just a few months ago, but to look at them now those live have changed. That’s the most Godly thing I’ve seen in all my 52 years,” says Mark.

The Salvation Army in Laurel offers shelter to men, women, and to families. People in need, whose path into homelessness may have been very different, are all struggling to rebuild their lives. Through The Salvation Army they can find a place to stay, a clean bed, and a warm meal. But that is just the beginning of the opportunities for those who have found themselves with nowhere else to go. Homelessness is sometimes just one paycheck away, and for men like Mark or for anyone trying to reconstruct themselves, The Salvation Army can be a place where that change begins.

A Donation of Transportation

When The Salvation Army goes to meet the needs of the community, it is always with the help and support of community contributions. Donations of funds or food or volunteer hours help The Salvation Army continue “Doing The Most Good” around the world. Recently, as Hurricane Dorian was moving closer to the coast, it was a donation of transportation that helped move water and supplies to those in need.

“We try to do things the right way. Our company began in March of 1990, and since then we have been successful, so we think it’s important to give back,” says John Stomps, the President and CEO of Total Transportation of Mississippi. When The Salvation Army asked for his support, he sent a truck to help transport needed supplies. He describes it as part of a culture of giving back to the community. “What we do, we do it because we can. When people are in need, if you have the ability, should step up,” he says.

This was not the first time The Salvation Army has called John for help. He has used his company to help serve the community in a myriad of ways, from transporting water and supplies to disaster survivors to helping in the fight against human trafficking, ensuring that his drivers are trained to recognize and report instances of human trafficking. His relationship with The Salvation Army began in the way many people come to learn about The Salvation Army, helping to share toys and gifts for the Angel Tree. “It began with us hauling toys around Christmas time. And then about four years ago I got a call from The Salvation Army asking for some assistance with a hurricane, where we hauled a mobile feeding unit down to Florida,” says Stomps.

Transporting over long distances is a costly endeavor. Fuel, drivers, and other expenses can add up over long distances. This is simply a part of the industry of transportation that touches nearly every product Americans buy. During times of disaster, those same costs are a significant part of any public or private organization’s response efforts. For The Salvation Army, on-call for whatever local and regional needs may arise, those costs are a substantial component of operational planning. John Stomps and Total Transportation of Mississippi’s partnership with The Salvation Army, by repeatedly and generously offering free transport of needed supplies for disaster relief efforts, is of immense value.

The Salvation Army’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. Helping meet the needs of communities facing recovery from disasters is a core part of that mission. It is a mission that can continue thanks to the support of individual donors, local businesses, and community leaders like John Stomps who are “Doing The Most Good” for their neighbors in need.

Finding a Home With The Salvation Army

LaCreata Scott came to The Salvation Army shelter in Shreveport, Louisiana for much the same reason that most people in need look for help. She had nowhere else to go. With three daughters, and without a place of her own, her options were limited. “I was a resident in the shelter for about two weeks with my children. They were able to stay in the day care as well,” says LaCreata, “I felt like this was a safe place,” she says. It was a chance for her to breathe. It was a chance for her to try and make a better life for her family.

For LaCreata and for all of those families that find themselves without a place to live, The Salvation Army is not simply a place to stay. It is a place where they can find opportunities to change their life and that of their family. Last year The Salvation Army of Shreveport provided nearly 7,000 nights of shelter to families and individuals in need. In that same time, over 3,000 found assistance with basic social services.

LaCreata has been in her own home since 2006. But her experience with The Salvation Army led her to want to serve others. “Whenever they call me, I am there to help,” LaCreata says.  She has helped served meals to other people in her own neighborhood. And she eventually joined the church, becoming a solider in The Salvation Army. “I feel like they just took me in. I feel like this was another home for me,” she says.

 

Finding Opportunities With The Boys and Girls Club

Cara O’Kray is playing basketball with some of the younger children at The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Shreveport, Louisiana. They are each taking shots for themselves, missing some and making others. It’s a way to learn and grow together. Cara is helping to work with the younger kids. It is a leadership role, but also an opportunity to help draw out some of those kids that are uncomfortable in new surroundings.

Cara’s service to others includes being a part of the community within the Boys and Girls Club. Aside from working at the front desk, “I help to prepare meals and I help collect the little kids,” Cara says. It’s an effort that is only a part of the time she has spent serving the community with The Boys and Girls Club. “I volunteered over the holidays at The Salvation Army by helping serve food to the homeless, army veterans, and families. Only good things come from this lifestyle. The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club encourages academic excellence,” she says.

“Last summer when I first started volunteering here, I noticed that some kids were kind of in their shell. But as the summer went on, they become more open with the kids around them and with me too,” says Cara. Learning how to work with younger people has helped her on her journey. “I’d like to give those kids a voice. To help guide kids who don’t feel comfortable discussing their problems,” she says. A high school psychology course led to an interest in serving others’ emotional well-being. Following that interest will lead to attending LSU after graduating from high school, seeking a degree in Psychology so that she can help other children like those she has been working with at The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club. “I want to give those kids a voice. Those who are scared to come out about problems that they are going through,” says Cara

The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club offers an opportunity for young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. For some kids it is a place of learning and personal development. For others the Boys and Girls Club can open a window into opportunities that they may not have considered. For Cara O’Kray it has become a place where she found a new perspective on her future.