Florence Corps Partners With City to Protect the Vulnerable During Covid-19

The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope is the only homeless shelter in Alabama’s Shoals area that has its own facility. Room at the Inn, the only other program in the area that provides shelter for the homeless, has temporarily postponed operations during the COVID-19 pandemic due to most of its volunteers being senior citizens, a high-risk population. This has resulted in numerous homeless individuals being left with nowhere to go, so the program organized for Veterans Memorial Park to be the designated location for the homeless to reside. A more permanent arrangement would be needed soon, so the City of Florence and the Homeless Care Council asked The Salvation Army to help.

Fortunately, twelve residents of the Army found permanent housing in March, creating space for incoming residents. The Salvation Army welcomed the homeless community from Veterans Memorial Park onto their property to give them a home during these uncertain times. Residents who may feel uncomfortable sleeping inside due to the virus have set up camp in the facility’s backyard. Those who choose to camp outside still have access to the facility’s amenities, such as laundry, showers, and meals. Portable toilets have also been installed for their convenience.

These circumstances have brought Florence together as a community. The city has provided portable toilets and picnic tables to assist with social distancing and the increase in residents. Area restaurants, businesses, and organizations have provided tents, tarps, blankets, toiletries, games, and food to assist with the new living arrangements. Hospital workers also came to the shelter to provide COVID-19 testing to all current and incoming residents to ensure everyone’s safety.

“We have a lot of land, so why not turn it into a home for someone who doesn’t have one? Now they have a place to go where they are welcomed and comfortable,” stated Shoals Corps Officer Captain Wendy Deuel.

“The residents are excited. Someone came to me and told me that they finally feel like they have a home, and that brought me so much joy. I’ve told residents that The Center of Hope brings new hope and a new beginning for them,” added Captain Deuel.

Living at The Salvation Army during this pandemic is a second chance for residents, many of whom hadn’t had showers in months before coming to the shelter. Residents attend daily rehabilitation and case management classes, where they are encouraged to discuss their lives and personal goals. Residents are also able to play sports and other games in small groups.

“The community has been a huge help. It has been a blessing to be able to work with other churches and organizations. We appreciate their help during this process,” stated Captain Deuel.


Financial donations are the best way to meet the evolving needs and to support relief efforts. To support The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response efforts, please give now.

The Salvation Army Responds to Easter Tornado Outbreak

Jackson, MS (April 13, 2020)—On April 12, 2020, severe weather pummeled the south and produced a tornado outbreak throughout Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. All three states have issued official emergency declarations. The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi (ALM) Division is responding to the Easter tornado outbreak throughout the three states. Mississippi is the only state of the three that suffered tornado-related fatalities. “The Salvation Army is continuing to assess service delivery needs in affected communities with local emergency management while also considering COVID-19 social distancing precautions. We realize this severe weather event, coupled with COVID-19, is likely a time of great difficulty and increasing anxiety. Beyond our local service delivery of meals, snacks, and beverages, The Salvation Army has established an Emotional and Spiritual Care Hotline at 844-458-HOPE (4673). Hours are seven days a week from 9 AM to 9 PM eastern time,” said Terry Lightheart, Divisional Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division.

The deadly tornadoes in Mississippi caused a confirmed 11 deaths across Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Jones, Carroll, Panola, and Walthall counties. A number of other counties across the state are reporting storm damage and over 74,000 power outages. Lt. Brian Hicks, Corps Officer for The Salvation Army Hattiesburg, is preparing their mobile feeding unit to serve in Jefferson Davis County today, where approximately 100 homes were damaged. Major Raymond Pruitt, Salvation Army Corps Officer in Laurel, is assessing needs this morning in Jasper and Jones counties. Other Salvation Army corps officers and service center directors who serve areas impacted by yesterday’s tornadoes are in contact with their local Emergency Management Agency to determine service delivery needs in their area.

Alabama reports nearly 120,000 power outages, with most of the damage consisting of downed trees and power lines. The main area of damage in Alabama is in Etowah County, which is served by The Salvation Army Gadsden Corps. Captain Dennis Hayes, Gadsden Salvation Army Corps Officer, is assessing needs in Boaz and Reece City today. Cynthia Smith, The Salvation Army Walker County Service Center Director, will be providing service to several affected areas today.

Monroe, Louisiana, experienced damage to approximately 200 homes but thankfully, no tornado-related fatalities have been reported. Captain Jerry Casey, Corps Officer for The Salvation Army of Monroe, loaded up his mobile feeding unit and went out to tornado-damaged neighborhoods on Sunday afternoon to provide sandwiches, drinks, and snacks to residents and first responders. “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds new challenges to providing emergency disaster relief. We’re being careful to wear a mask and gloves, and we’re taking social distancing precautions while serving the public,” said Captain Casey. He plans to be back out in the community serving again today.

Financial donations are the best way to meet the evolving needs and to support relief efforts. To donate to The Salvation Army’s disaster relief efforts, visit www.HelpSalvationArmy.org. For the latest Salvation Army disaster response news from across the country visit www.SalArmyEDS.org.

 

The Salvation Army’s Response to Alabama’s Stay at Home Order

On Friday, April 3, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced an official Stay at Home order for the state of Alabama to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The order took effect on Saturday, April 4, and is in place until April 30. This mandate affects The Salvation Army throughout Alabama in many ways, most notably in shelter operations. The Salvation Army operates ten shelters throughout the state and all of them are now housing residents 24/7. Shelters that usually serve only breakfast and dinner are now serving three meals a day. This change to round-the-clock sheltering increases staffing needs as well as the need for more food and cleaning supplies. All Salvation Army shelters throughout the state are increasing daily cleaning and disinfecting measures throughout their facilities in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus and keep all shelter residents and staff safe and healthy. Alabama’s Stay at Home order is also resulting in the temporary closure of all Salvation Army thrift stores in the state, however, all Salvation Army locations are still providing social services.

Birmingham

The Salvation Army’s Birmingham Area Command has seen a tremendous increase in demand for emergency services including food and utility assistance requests since the onset of the pandemic. The Birmingham shelter has 111 men, women, and children currently in their care. They have identified apartments in the facility to use as quarantine or isolation if needed. The Birmingham Area Command currently has a week’s worth of food on hand for current residents and for their food pantry distribution. The need for food supplies has increased greatly as residents are now eating all three meals at the shelter. Additionally, snacks and drinks are provided throughout the day. Shelter residents are eating in shifts to allow for safe social distancing during meals. Hand washing/sanitizing is now required upon entry into the facility, at mealtimes, and before snacks.

The Birmingham Salvation Army reports that food assistance demand has increased by more than 300% since the onset of the pandemic. A drive-through food pantry is provided to the public twice weekly, and they are serving lunch to members of the community through a mobile canteen feeding truck on their Center of Hope campus.

To keep residents entertained, several activities a week are planned for the families in the shelter and residents are encouraged to spend time outdoors as long as they stay on campus and maintain social distancing.  As of Monday, April 6, the Birmingham Salvation Army is assisting students in the shelter with their e-learning requirements through the on-site computer lab.  Workforce development opportunities are also being offered to residents, with classes on job interviews, life skills, time management, and more.

“Our hope is to show our families the love of Jesus and that’s what we are trying to do every day,” said Major Paula Powell, Area Commander. “Showing our families we care about them and we love them makes all the difference.”

Florence

The Salvation Army of the Shoals in Florence, Alabama, is currently housing 19 residents. Cleaning has increased throughout the shelter due to its extended hours. There are no residents with COVID-19, but if a resident shows signs of the virus, they will be isolated in a separate living space and referred to the nearest hospital for proper screening.

On Friday, April 10, the Florence Corps will hold its third food giveaway since the onset of the pandemic. They have also partnered with local senior living facilities to deliver frozen chicken, prepared meals, and household goods, including toilet paper. The Army is also delivering meals to the YMCA, which is taking care of children of first responders, and distributing meals throughout the community to assist with feeding children who aren’t at the YMCA. Those meals are provided by the Florence School District.

“We have had to close down our family stores, which are a source of funding for all of our social service programs. This has put a strain on our budget, but we are continuing to serve the physical and monetary needs of our community who are affected by this pandemic. We need financial contributions to continue operating to the extent that our community needs,” stated Florence Corps Officer Captain Wendy Deuel.

Coastal Alabama

The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama is currently housing 91 residents throughout their 3 shelters, all of which are now operating 24/7. Cleaning has increased throughout the shelters due to the extended hours. There aren’t any residents with COVID-19, but if a resident shows signs of the virus they will be isolated in a separate living space and taken to the nearest hospital for proper screening.

COVID-19 has drastically increased The Salvation Army’s community feedings and other services in Mobile. The Army is now serving lunch three times a week in downtown Mobile—stepping up to fill the gap left after other area service organizations had to close during the pandemic. An average of 170 meals per day are being served at this location, with projections that this number will increase in the days ahead. The Mobile Police and Fire Departments have asked The Salvation Army to supply meals to public safety officials that are quarantined with suspicion of COVID-19 symptoms.

Church activities at the Worship Center and the Dauphin Way Lodge have been postponed. Group rehabilitation meetings have been divided into smaller groups and take place outside in the courtyard. Visitors are restricted from entering the building, and community meals are distributed outside. The food pantry has had to adjust the hours and methods of distributing food to mitigate unnecessary exposure to clients and staff.

“We will make it through this together not by doing what is comfortable, but by doing what is necessary,” stated Coastal Alabama Area Commander, Major Thomas Richmond.

Tuscaloosa

The Salvation Army of Tuscaloosa’s shelter, which has separate wings to accommodate men, women, families, and veterans, is currently near capacity. Round-the-clock sheltering means that The Salvation Army is now providing lunch, an additional meal, for its residents due to the mandate hours.

“We are extending our shelter to 24/7 operation because it is the only home our residents currently have, and we’re committed to keeping them safe and well provided for. We are also providing all of our normal essential services— including meals, food boxes, Rapid Rehousing, and Homeless Prevention—we’re just altering our methods of service delivery to practice safe social distancing,” stated Tuscaloosa Corps Officer, Major Bill Shafer.

 


The above is just a sampling, but all Salvation Army shelters throughout Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are now operating 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Every one of these shelters is in immediate need of extra food and cleaning supplies to meet the increased demand, but their biggest need is financial. The Salvation Army needs a great outpouring of public support to continue to serve the increased need throughout our communities. To support The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response efforts, please give now.

Holy Week Devotional

The Salvation Army Responds to Mississippi’s Shelter in Place Order

On Wednesday, April 1, 2020, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a statewide Shelter in Place order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Mississippi’s Shelter in Place order will begin on Friday, April 3 at 5 pm, and will be in effect through April 20. As an essential services provider, The Salvation Army’s locations throughout the state will be operating and serving their communities’ needs. All non-essential Salvation Army programs and events have already been suspended due to social-distancing requirements and will not resume until after the order is lifted. Locations that do not have a shelter will still be offering the social services they provide while using safe social distancing measures. All Salvation Army thrift stores will be closed.

The Salvation Army’s shelters throughout Mississippi will operate 24/7 for the duration of the Shelter in Place ordinance. This increased operating time also requires that each shelter will be feeding 3 meals a day instead of their usual 2. The shelters will continue practicing the safe social-distancing measures that they have already been doing, such as increased spacing of beds, staggering meal times, etc. Shelters will also increase the already heightened daily cleaning and disinfecting measures throughout their facilities to lessen the potential spread of the virus. This round-the-clock sheltering increases staffing needs as well as the urgent increased need for food and cleaning supplies.

Jackson

The Salvation Army of Jackson has already been operating their shelter 24/7 since March 16th, allowing residents to leave only for essentials. Now, with the governor’s Shelter in Place order, what is considered essential will be limited further. The constant operation of the shelter means that the Jackson Corps is providing 3 all meals a day to residents now, putting an additional strain on their food supplies. All staff are in place and continuing to offer residential counseling.

Sanitation has also increased at the shelter. “We’re wiping down continually, and we’re practicing the 6 ft distancing. At the shelter chapel, I went through, measured and spaced the seats 6 feet apart,” said Major Robert Lyle, Jackson Corps Officer. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the facility. Shelter residents have been spaced farther apart, so a room that has 3 beds now houses only 2 individuals. Extra space is available in case a need for isolation or quarantine arises, but, “Praise the Lord, no one has had any symptoms,” said Major Lyle.

Another way that the Jackson Corps is helping during the COVID-19 pandemic is by providing food boxes to the public. However, they currently only have enough food to last until Tuesday of next week and are calling on the public for help. The food boxes contain supplies for meals including some breakfast items like milk, eggs, and bread, along with about a week’s worth of canned goods. During this crisis, the Corps has been providing food boxes for an average of 50 families a day. To manage the volume of people coming through while practicing social distancing, recipients need to call ahead to set up their pick-up time and staff will meet them at their car with the supplies.

“We’re just believing God for greater things and we believe that our ministry is to the hurting folks who are in our residence. So we’re doing everything we can to safely keep them during this time, providing a clean, friendly, safe environment,” said Major Lyle.

Tupelo

The Salvation Army of Tupelo will operate 24/7 and require that residents only leave the shelter for essential needs. Grocery assistance will remain open via drive-thru pick-ups. Those in need are requested to call and schedule a pick-up time before arriving. All 3 Tupelo Salvation Army thrift stores are closed until further notice.

The shelter currently has 40 residents and is close to capacity. Any residents showing symptoms of the virus will be moved to the former Tupelo Corps shelter building, where they will have a private bedroom and restroom and will be referred to the hospital to be properly screened.

The change to a 24-hr operation dramatically increases the shelter’s financial needs. Typically providing lunch and dinner while collaborating with other soup kitchens for breakfast, the Army may now have to provide all three meals each day. All meals are prepared in a to-go style.

“Food suppliers are still supporting us. Although there are additional needs, what we need most is money. We provide utility assistance, shelter, and meals, and we want to continue supporting those programs as well as our employees during this time,” stated Tupelo Corps Officer Major Ray Morton.

Meridian

The Salvation Army of Meridian will operate their shelter 24/7 for the duration of the mandate, allowing residents to leave the shelter only for essential needs. The Meridian Corps will continue to provide grocery assistance to the community via drive-thru pick-ups. The Meridian Salvation Army thrift store will be closed for the duration of the ordinance.

Movies, games, and bible study are being organized to help keep residents entertained while practicing safe social distancing. If any shelter resident shows symptoms of the virus, they will be referred to their primary care physician or the hospital to be properly screened. Cleaning and disinfecting practices have increased throughout the shelter due to the extended hours. The Meridian Corps also provides a daily community dinner for anyone in need of a hot meal. These meals usually take place in the dining hall but are now being served to-go style. Grocery assistance numbers have doubled, with nearly 30 cars arriving on average for pick-up daily. Shelter dinner attendance has also doubled this week, increasing to 60 guests per night.

“We haven’t had produce in two weeks. We’re in need of vegetables, tissue, and water. We’re low on cleaning supplies, so we’re using soap and bleach to clean more frequently. We’re taking all precautions with our staff and residents. Our clients have already doubled since the start COVID-19, and we want to be prepared to serve our community as it continues,” stated Meridian Corps Officer, Lieutenant Tamara Robb.

Laurel

The Salvation Army of Laurel will operate 24/7 and require that residents only leave the shelter for essential needs. Round-the-clock sheltering means increasing the meals provided to 3 per day for every shelter resident when only 2 meals a day are provided under normal operations. Grocery assistance is still available by appointment. The thrift store is closed until further notice.

The shelter currently has 18 residents. Designated areas are available for isolation or quarantine if the need arises. Separate rooms will be provided to any resident showing signs of the virus, and they will be referred to the hospital to be properly screened. There are no infected residents at this time, and cleaning has increased throughout the shelter due to the extended hours.

“We remain open and ready to supply prepared meals and food boxes for anyone in need. Our staff is practicing the suggested guidelines for self-care and we’re monitoring our health for any symptoms,” stated Major Raymond Pruitt, Laurel Corps Officer.

 


All Salvation Army shelters throughout the state of Mississippi are operating 24-hours a day, 7-days a week for the duration of the state’s Shelter in Place order. Every one of these shelters is in immediate need of extra food and cleaning supplies to meet the increased demand, but their biggest need is financial. The Salvation Army needs a great outpouring of public support to continue to serve the increased need in Mississippi. To support The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response efforts, please give now.

 

Mobile Takes Canteen into the Community to Fill the Gap

The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama has created a new feeding program to assist at-risk community members who have been impacted by the coronavirus.  Other social service organizations have closed throughout the area due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Army is stepping up to serve residents who relied on those organizations.

The Salvation Army’s mobile feeding canteen began distributing water and bagged lunches in downtown Mobile at the Square at Dauphin Street and Park Street this week. The Army was able to provide a meal and prayer for 170 members of the community. The canteen will provide meals at this location every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

“Many people came to our canteen and told us that they thought they had been forgotten during this crisis. We assured them that we had not forgotten them, but more importantly, God had not forgotten them. The Salvation Army has served the needs of people in Mobile and Baldwin Counties since 1887 and will continue to be here with God’s help,” stated Coastal Alabama Area Commander, Major Thomas Richmond.

This new community feeding program is in addition to services already provided by The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama, including supplied food, shelter and social services at the three shelter locations—the Family Haven family shelter, the Red Shield Lodge emergency homeless shelter, and the Dauphin Way Lodge drug & alcohol rehabilitation center, as well as financial assistance and an array of other services through their social services office.

To help The Salvation Army continue to serve those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, make your secure online donation today.