Smoke the Therapy Dog

The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge has welcomed a new member to their family. Smoke is a therapy dog to the men and staff in the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC).

Welcoming a therapy dog into the recovery program was Major Donald Tekautz’s idea. He often took his dog to the ARC during a former appointment in Memphis. He realized that having a dog was beneficial to residents and decided to bring a therapy dog on board in Baton Rouge.

“In other appointments, I have seen the quality of life a dog can bring to our clients. They become the best counselor the men have because dogs keep secrets no matter what you tell them. Though it sounds tripe, dog is the same name as God just backward, so I do believe that they have an innate quality to bring peace and tranquility to our lives. They are messengers of peace, and Smoke certainly has brought that to the property for our guys. Smoke is a great dog, and the guys in the program are benefiting from him greatly,” shared Major Tekautz.

Smoke is two-years-old and was adopted from a local Baton Rouge shelter. He lives at the ARC, and residents are in charge of caring for him. A monthly schedule rotates responsibilities for residents, who take turns feeding, bathing, and walking Smoke as well, making sure he takes his heartworm medication until he heals.

The men in the ARC program spend a lot of time with Smoke. He has a kind heart and continuously wants to be pet and hugged. A lot of the residents enjoy him being around because he signifies comfort.

“It’s been great to have a dog around. It has brought a piece of home to my life and my recovery. Smoke seems to like it here, and I know we enjoy having him here. We’ve all fallen in love with Smoke, and we think he might love us too,” shared Percy, an ARC resident.

 

Blessings and Perseverance with Seniors Amid COVID-19

Coined “Baskets of Blessings,” baskets filled with gloves, masks, sanitizer, a Bible study book, and chocolates were delivered to the homes of seniors and members of The Salvation Army Shreveport Corps’ Women’s Ministry. Distributing the baskets was the Army’s way of staying in touch with church members and reassuring them that they are cared for and loved while also practicing social distancing.

Virginia Fernandez-Schalewski, a member of the women’s ministry for over ten years, appreciates the basket of goods and says it helps her to feel more protected while running errands.

“I would like to thank The Salvation Army for the gloves, face mask, and candy. I carry the sanitizer with me everywhere I go,” shared Fernandez-Schalewski.

Retired Salvation Army officer, Major Patricia Johnson, was also one of the women who received a “basket of blessings” and was grateful for the added resources to her and her family.

Major Patricia Johnson, former Salvation Army Corps Officer

“I appreciate the gifts and The Salvation Army for thinking of me. You can’t always find these things when you need them, so I’m grateful for the tissues and hand sanitizer,” Major Johnson stated.

“I enjoy the Army’s programs. I was raised in the Army. My parents were very active at the Corps. I plan to join the Shreveport Corps in assisting the Boys and Girls Club once the pandemic is more under control,” Major Johnson added.

Major Johnson and Lieutenant Tamarique Ellis know each other from previous appointments in Atlanta. Major Johnson offered advice to Lieutenant Ellis early in her career as a Salvation Army officer. Nearly 20 years later, they live in Shreveport, Louisiana, and are still involved with the Army.

“Time is one circle. It comes back around. Major Johnson blessed me as a young soldier in Atlanta, and now we’re both in Shreveport and keep in touch,” Lieutenant Ellis shared.

“I just love my Army and want to give back, despite my losses and time of mourning.”

Although the Army is continuing to serve members of its community during the coronavirus pandemic, the past few months of self-isolation have been hard for some and even harder for others. Patsy Wallace, a member of the Shreveport Corps’ senior’s ministry, lost both of her daughters during self-isolation due to ongoing health issues and the coronavirus. Through all of this, she has still kept the Army in mind and has donated what she can to assist the Shreveport Corps. She regularly visits the Corps for the senior’s ministry and weekly meals, which has only been offered drive-thru style since the start of COVID-19. Due to the loss of her daughters, Wallace has been unable to travel, so Lieutenants Ellis brought lunch, flowers, a handmade vase, and a handmade necklace designed by the Ellis’ children to Ms. Wallace at her home. While receiving her gifts, Wallace offered a gift of her own to the Army.

“Ms. Patsy has given us a financial donation from her heart. In all her suffering, she says she has meant to bless us. Her love and care for others and the ministry in her time of bereavement is so wonderful. Ms. Patsy is a blessing to the Army. The Lord is with her,” Lieutenant Ellis stated.

Wallace has been a member of The Salvation Army Women’s Ministry for over 20 years and also participates in the senior’s ministry. She goes above and beyond for the Army. Just last December, she took the initiative to volunteer to help organize Angel Tree and tended the tables throughout the fundraiser’s duration.

“I just love my Army and want to give back, despite my losses and time of mourning,” Patsy Wallace shared.

Lieutenant Ellis says members of the senior’s ministry keep in touch with one another via phone calls. The Corps checks in with Wallace and other seniors weekly to see how they are doing, whether it be a phone call or driving by their homes to wave and chat from a safe distance.

“We are a family. We see that family spirit in our corps, from mothers taking care of kids, to the senior’s ministry checking in on each other through coronavirus. It’s beautiful,” Lieutenant Ellis shared.

“Seniors would come and sit and encourage each other daily before the pandemic, so we are staying in touch with them to let them know that we are thinking of them and praying for them. They are praying for us as well. We like to encourage seniors and remind them that they have a presence and a place in this world. If society takes time to lift both of our vulnerable populations, the children and the seniors, we can learn so much from them,” added Lieutenant Ellis.

Greenwood Corps: COVID-19 Has Changed The Way We Do Ministry

The Greenwood Corps Thrift Store has reopened for the first time since April when the Mississippi Shelter in Place order went into effect. All customers are limited to 20-minute shopping sessions and children are not allowed in the store at this time. Though the thrift store was closed due to state orders, the corps continued all social services, including financial assistance with utilities, rent, hotel rooms for homeless clients, and groceries. All social service appointments are conducted via phone Monday-Friday between 10 AM-3 PM.

“Our customers are more like family. They will mingle and talk, so we had to limit the shopping time so that everyone had a chance to shop,” laughed Captain Keisha McMullin, Greenwood Corps Officer.

Lt. Jason McMullin showing appreciation at City Hall on National Donut Day

“Because of all the stipulations with COVID-19, I felt like we weren’t able to do everything we wanted to do. I wanted to thank all our first responders and frontline workers personally, but we couldn’t do that. Even as we went to the hospital, a representative met us outside. She felt the same way we were feeling. We’ve missed human interaction,” Captain McMullin explained.
The corps recently celebrated National Salvation Army Week by delivering cakes, balloons, and a card to the Greenwood Leflore Hospital, Greenwood Police Department, and Greenwood Fire Department. Disinfectant kits were distributed to families, community youth received snack bags, and balloons and donuts were delivered to Mayor Carolyn McAdams. The corps also gave War Cry magazine’s, cards, coloring sheets, and word puzzles to one of the local nursing homes.

Captain McMullin says not being able to shake hands and hug the people who support The Salvation Army and the Greenwood community has been difficult. Still, she took this opportunity to become more creative and do everything she could to show the Army’s appreciation.

 

“This is the way ministry was meant to be.”

 

The Greenwood Corps makes deliveries to families throughout the area every week. Captains McMullin recently met a new family while out making their routine dropoffs. They gave them “happy bags” (bags filled with snacks, puzzles, and cleaning supplies) and the family was so touched that they agreed to visit the thrift store once reopened to say hello to the McMullins.

“I thanked God for that moment and let the family know that we will be back to visit once the pandemic is under control. This is the same neighborhood where a lot of our youth live. We already have plans to take our ministry into that community. We’ve planned to host block parties and gatherings on Fridays to keep the kids interested and to feed the community. That moment was a great introduction to what we are trying to do once the pandemic is over. It’s often hard to successfully reach out to all of the kids in that community, so we’ve decided to take our ministry to them so that they are more aware of the Army. We also have a group where all of the kids in our youth ministry can stay in touch with each other via text messaging,” Captain McMullin shared.

“This is the way ministry was meant to be. It wasn’t meant to be confined between four walls. It was meant to be creative and innovative. I think that this pandemic has pushed us as pastors and ministers to think outside of the box. It has stretched us, it has caused us to think outside of the four walls, and has helped us to be more creative with our ministry,” Captain McMullin added.

Traveling throughout Greenwood’s neighborhoods to deliver “happy bags” to the community is something that Captain McMullin has truly enjoyed during the pandemic. It has challenged her to be more inventive and resourceful and has helped her to not focus on the negative aspects of these times.

“To be able to find a way to spread the gospel and spread God’s love amid such a dark time has been a blessing for me. Sometimes I can be a sponge and absorb the emotions and anxieties of others, so I deal with the worries and stresses of their situations. I had to get myself to a place where I’m like, ‘Ok now Lord, I know you told me that I’m not supposed to be anxious for anything,’ so I’ve been pressing in like never before. As a pastor, I know that you are going to carry the weight of your people, but it’s been like never before,” Captain McMullin shared.

“One client has a master’s degree and has never had to ask for help. She is struggling to take care of her family, and can’t get unemployment. I let her know that it was alright to receive help and that we’re all going to need somebody at some point in our lives. To hear her on the other end, rejoicing and thanking Jesus for providing for her family brought me so much joy. It’s those moments that remind me that I’m at the right place at the right time. All of the anxieties that I’m feeling from hearing clients’ stories are well worth it, and God is using me to help someone else. That’s what keeps me going,” Captain McMullin added.

A New Kind of Ministry

Since the start of the pandemic, the Greenwood Corps drops off ministry packets every Sunday and holds church service via a phone conference call. The corps delivers “church in a bag” on Sundays when a live service will not be held. Church in a bag includes a devotion, a list of songs that church members can search on YouTube for worship, games, prizes for the games, activities, and crafts.

“We’re being as creative as we can to keep this going. Everything has shut down, but we have to keep on serving. The enemy did not win with this one,” Captain McMullin shared.

The Greenwood Corps also delivers groceries to families in need and always includes a game for the children. Before the pandemic, the officers had plans to take members of the youth program to the Biloxi Kroc Center. That field trip has been postponed until a safer time to travel, so weekly activity packets for youth members include different ways for them to earn points for treats during that trip.

 

 

Shreveport Delivers Meals to VA Nurses Working 16-Hour Shifts

The Salvation Army of Shreveport has wrapped up its twice a week feedings to the VA nurses and staff on the 6th-floor of Overton Brooks VA Medical Center. These nurses were working 16-hour shifts, taking care of isolated VA patients, and were required to take lunch breaks at the hospital due to COVID-19. The Shreveport Corps has been delivering meals to Overton Brooks VA nurses since April 1st.

“It sure does feel wonderful to be thought of!”

 

“First and foremost, I thank you all for thinking of us during this pandemic. It sure does feel wonderful to be thought of! The lunches came as a complete surprise and were handy for those of us who had forgotten our lunches, and for those of us who needed a snack throughout our shift. All in all, I am grateful that The Salvation Army took the time to put these lunches together for us. Together we are better. This is a great example of our community sticking together during this time. Again, I say thank you so very much to The Salvation Army,” shared Janice Strange, Overton Brooks VA Medical Center RN.

“The nurses on 6-West would like to thank each and every one of you for the lunch bags.  Many of us could not leave the unit due to the patients. You have shown what true generosity is. With many out of work and relying on human kindness, you are the tops. Thank you again for all you have done for us, ” shared Kathleen Mickle, another Overton Brooks RN, on behalf of the 6-West nursing staff.

The Shreveport Corps has also been supplying meals to seniors and children throughout the area. Seniors come to the corps daily to receive meals and families can visit the Boys and Girls Club each Saturday to receive a weekend meal supply to keep kids full until Monday when schools are able to prep daily weekday meals for students. Officers and staff also distribute weekend meals to children in two low-income communities in the Shreveport area.

“The Salvation Army has not wavered in our commitment to meeting the needs that arise in Shreveport. Starting out, I knew that there would be other groups and people willing to feed, but there would come a time when these groups would be exhausted or had to close. I wanted to make sure that The Salvation Army remained in place to be able to continue our services,” stated Shreveport Corps Officer Lieutenant Jamaal Ellis.

 

 

Dothan Corps Partners with Love In Action To Deliver Meals, Water, and Fans

Salvation Army locations throughout Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi recently celebrated National Salvation Army Week with their own spin on things. This year was a bit limited in celebration due to COVID-19 and social distancing, but they found ways to celebrate with Salvation Army supporters and donors via social media. The Salvation Army of Dothan had a busy week of their own. The corps received a proclamation from Mayor Mark Saliba, announcing the beginning of National Salvation Army Week, and board members delivered goodie bags to the mayor, county commissioners, donors, and local media.

The Army also partnered with Love In Action International Ministries to deliver meals, water, and paper fans to those in need throughout the Dothan community. Salvation Army Advisory Board members and Roy Fisher, Corps Administrator, contacted Love In Action to assist with one of their weekly meal deliveries. The Army helped pack meals for the homeless with the organization, packed the canteen, and headed into the community to serve water and fans to the homeless. The Salvation Army and Love In Action were able to provide food and comfort to over 150 people during that lunch hour.

“We were trying to figure out what to do for National Salvation Army Week, especially during COVID-19. Just being able to talk to the people in the community, the homeless especially, we just felt like we needed to do it. Being able to talk and pray with them was amazing. It was really rewarding to be out there working with Love In Action,” Fisher shared.

Love In Action and The Salvation Army are making canteen handouts a monthly event.

The Dothan Corps wanted to end the week with a revival, but couldn’t because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We did what we could to keep social distancing while getting the word out there that we’re here for our community. I’m excited about this partnership with Love In Action. We have the same purpose, which is to take care of God’s children and God’s kingdom. It’s about being together when we’re doing it,” Fisher added.

Biloxi Kroc Center Ministry Feeds Seniors Amid COVID-19

The Salvation Army Kroc Center of the Mississippi Gulf Coast began a meal delivery ministry for seniors at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are unable to gather food themselves, whether it’s due to a physical disability, illness, or lack of a vehicle. Hence, officers and staff administer meals and offer encouragement to seniors throughout the Gulf Coast area. It’s a beautiful experience for the seniors as well as the ministry team. Some have even come to know one another on a first-name basis.

“Many of the seniors offer us words of encouragement as well. They say, ‘We thank God for what you do. We appreciate you,’ and that inspires us to continue serving our seniors. We need to be there for our vulnerable adults,” stated Lieutenant Sonya Smith.

“Our ministry team has a huge heart for seniors. We wanted to find a way not only to feed them spiritually as well,” Lieutenant Smith added.

 

“People are connecting more than ever over kind words, letters in the mail, and in my case, a meal.”

 

The weather was terrible on the coast one day, but it didn’t stop the meal delivery ministry because they knew there were seniors out there waiting for their doorbells to ring.

“I asked God to find a way for us to deliver the meals safely, and what do you know, it stopped raining right around lunchtime. There was not a drop,” Lieutenant Smith stated.

The ministry has recently started delivering meals to a woman who is in dialysis. Lieutenant Smith is aware of the woman’s treatment schedule, so she tries arriving when she knows the woman will be home and settled. One day Lieutenant Smith arrived at the same time as the bus that transports the woman to and from her appointments. Lieutenant Smith waited for her to get settled. When she rang the doorbell, she was greeted with a “Come in sweetie.”

“When I rang the doorbell, and she said that, it felt like whatever I was going through was just lifted. It was so sweet. She was sitting there, waiting on her lunch. I’d had a rough morning, but I knew I needed to push on because someone was out there waiting on a meal. This is why we do what we do. There may be issues with the economy, there’s a virus spreading, and people are dying, but God is still good,” Lieutenant Smith shared.

“I went back to my car and just sat there and was filled with joy. I asked God to forgive me for complaining in a moment just because I was having a rough morning. This woman is going through dialysis and is one of the most vulnerable, yet still giving God glory. It’s the little things,” added Lieutenant Smith.

“Many spiritual exchanges are happening, and people are missing it because we’re focused on this pandemic. People are connecting more than ever over kind words, letters in the mail, and in my case, a meal. It was an exchange between one generation to the next,” stated Lieutenant Smith.

“We’re looking for these huge blessings during this pandemic, and God is telling us to look at the small things. He is allowing this pandemic to bring us together in compassion. I had a spiritual exchange with this woman that she doesn’t even know she’s given me. I gave her a meal, and she gave me gratitude. That exchange reminded me of why we do what we do. I put my mask on, and I go out there, and I’m going to be a blessing. I never think about someone else being a blessing to me. I’m thankful for that. Those are the things I hold on to,” Lieutenant Smith added.

Meals are delivered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to seniors throughout the Biloxi community. Services will continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact the Biloxi Kroc Center to sign up for meal deliveries.

Social Worker Secures Homes For Families While Fighting COVID-19

Treshone Collor, Director of Social Services for The Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans, recently secured permanent housing for 12 families—having a total of 39 children between them—while she was fighting her own battle with the coronavirus.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command has been doing its part to make sure all residents and staff are safe and secure. Staff members continue their day-to-day operations, making sure vulnerable populations receive meals and finding homes for families. Working in a state with the most rapid spread of the virus has been challenging, but The Salvation Army’s dedicated staff continue doing their part to serve the New Orleans community.

Collor found out she was COVID-19 positive on April 9th, while already working from home in self-isolation due to the Louisiana Stay at Home order.

“I took my multivitamins, took medicine, continued doing anything that I regularly do, but went to get tested to be sure. I wasn’t showing symptoms when I tested but started developing flu symptoms as time went on. I had a fever, back pains, migraines, and restless sleep. It was challenging and scary,” Collor shared.

Collor has a son with sickle cell anemia. “I’ve been in mommy mode to keep his immune system up. Making sure he didn’t contract the virus was my biggest concern,” she added.

Despite dealing with her health, Collor was still concerned about the 12 families who needed a permanent home.

“My goal was to get those residents out of the shelter. I knew they were there and had limited access to things because of social distancing. We had 39 children at the shelter, so I knew it could become a trying situation. I had to keep moving,” Collor stated.

Collor succeeded in getting all of the families out of the shelter and into permanent housing. She also housed eight additional families who lived in other shelters throughout New Orleans who received services from the Army.

It’s easy to spiral into fear, but Collor stays motivated by reassuring herself that success will continue despite this pandemic. “People keep telling me I was born to work in social services, and I tell them I’ll take note of that,” said Collor.

“I am amazed at the dedication Treshone Collor has shown during the COVID-19 outbreak. She was forced to self-quarantine early after the Stay at Home order took place here in New Orleans. Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done,” said New Orleans Area Commander, Major Ernest Hull, about Collor’s dedication to serving others.

“My faith and positive mindset helped me to keep going. Providing services for those who need help was a drive for me to continue even though I was dealing with a personal illness. I still wanted to help. I still wanted to be dedicated to the individuals here. There were many days when I couldn’t do anything but stay in bed and rest. Those were trying days. This whole process has been trying and very memorable. I think I’ll carry on this conversation for many years to come,” Collor added.

 

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.