Salvation Army Mobilizes In Louisiana To Help Flood Survivors

March 10, 2016 – 9:44 PM EST
Jon Kalahar
jon.kalahar@uss.salvationarmy.org


floodsJACKSON, MS (March 10, 2016) – With continued flooding across North Louisiana, The Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana Emergency Disaster Services Division of The Salvation Army is coordinating disaster relief efforts with local Army representatives in Mississippi and Louisiana.  Staff and supplies from The Jackson, Mississippi Corps is being deployed to Monroe, Louisiana, Friday morning to assist with shelter and mobile feeding operations. Support includes six staff and volunteers, one mobile canteen and one supply truck loaded with water, clean-up kits, food and other essential supplies.

According to Monroe Corps officer, Captain August Pillsbury there are six shelters currently open with approximately 550 occupants, as of Thursday afternoon.

“We will support feeding at the shelters as requested. There are also residents out in the community as well as first responders who are helping those in need, and we want to be there for them as well,” said Captain Pillsbury.

In Shreveport, flooding, has warranted evacuation of as many as 3,500 families resulting in shelters opening in both Shreveport and Bossier City.   The Shreveport Corps of the Salvation Army is tasked with feeding the flood evacuees in the shelters. The Corps is also roaming through affected communities with a mobile canteen providing snacks and hydration to residents and emergency responders.

“We are responding to needs as they arise, while preparing to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts in the weeks ahead,” says Major Ed Binnix, commander of the Salvation Army of Northwest Louisiana.  “Our canteen will be out in the neighborhoods during recovery with assistance which will include food, hydration and Salvation Army cleanup kits.”

As rain moves east, local Salvation Army Corps in the Mississippi Delta are also preparing to respond to residents who may need to leave their homes before the flood waters rise.  The Greenville, Mississippi Corps is providing food and snacks to shelter occupants located at the Washington County Convention Center in Greenville until further notice. “We are available to assist wherever we are needed to bring some comfort to the citizens of Greenville,” said Lieutenant Damon Graham, Greenville, MS Corps Officer.

The Salvation Army asks people who want to help those affected by these storms to please give monetarily through http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/march2016floods

or

DONATE BY MAIL
For Disaster Relief in LOUISIANA

The Salvation Army
P.O. Box 470
Mansura, LA 71350

For Disaster Relief in MISSISSIPPI

The Salvation Army
P.O. Box  610
Pickens, MS 39146

Please designate March 2016 Floods  on all checks.

DONATE BY PHONE: call 1-800-SAL-ARMY

or  text STORM to 51555 to receive a donation link for easy mobile giving

Salvation Army disaster services are free. All people are served equally, without discrimination.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyalm.org.

Two Corps respond to devastated RV park in Convent, Louisiana

convent RV park 3Severe weather moved across the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division Tuesday afternoon into early Wednesday morning and brought heavy rain, high winds and several tornados with it. The Salvation Army responded to the Sugar Hill RV Park in Convent, Louisiana which saw the worst of the devastation. The Baton Rouge Corps and New Orleans Command both responded with canteens and volunteers to serve first responders and residents whose vehicles were literally turned upside down from the high winds brought by the storms.

“A great team of people headed straight to Convent once we learned of the need last night.  This is difficult work for the first responders, and we are just glad to be able to serve and help them do what they have to do”, said Captain Brett Meredith Baton Rouge Corps officer.

Between the Baton Rouge Corps and the New Orleans Command, over 200 meals were served, 400 drinks and snacks, and twenty pairs of socks and six pairs of gloves were handed out. Plus, officers on site provided spiritual care to those who requested our help.

Local officials have confirmed two deaths and 30 injuries from this location.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones last night, and we pray that our work may ease the burden that everyone feels during times like these”, shared Captain Meredith.

“The Salvation Army is committed to insuring that the emergent needs of our community are met when needed,” Major David Worthy said. “When crisis occurs, we’re there to support victims, first responders and anyone else in need of help.”

In Mobile, Alabama, the Coastal Alabama Command activated their emergency shelter due to severe weather pass through the area. The Salvation Army housed 49 total overnight and served breakfast.

Financial donations are the best way to support those affected by these devastating tornadoes.  Donations can be made online at www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org, by calling 800-SAL-ARMY or by sending a check to your local Salvation Army, earmarked, Emergency Disaster Services.

While used clothing and used furniture are seldom required during disaster response, these gifts are vitally important in supporting the day-to-day work of The Salvation Army. Please consider giving these items to the local Family Store by dialing 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825).

For the latest emergency disaster services news from The Salvation Army, please visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or follow the social feed on Twitter at @salarmyeds.

Shelters, warming stations opening to help those in need escape winter weather

20150219-DSC05134The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi is caring for those in need during the severe weather that brought dangerously low temperatures, plus snow and sleet in some areas. Many of our local corps will open emergency shelters and warming stations while temperatures continue to drop. They are also extending hours for several of our shelters.

Snow and sleet in north Mississippi prompted Greenville and Greenwood Corps to open an overnight shelter and warming stations for local residents to escape the conditions.

In Greenville, the overnight shelter opens at 7pm. The warming station is open from 8:30am until 2:30pm.

“We know this is dangerous weather for anyone to be out in overnight,” said Lieutenant Damon Graham, Greenville Corps Officer. “We want folks to know they have a place to stay or simply a place to go get warm.”

Coffee snacks, and meals in some cases are available in the warming station.

In Greenwood, the overnight shelter is open from 6pm till 9am and the warming station opens at 10am and closes at 6pm.

“The Salvation Army will keep these places open as long as there are people who need them. We won’t turn anyone away,” said Captain Ben Deuel, Greenwood Corps Officer.

Both shelters and warming stations are open to the general public.

In Hunstville, Alabama, Corps Officer, Major Donald Wilson says they are maintaining a warming station, but they are also helping the homeless who may not want to come to The Salvation Army’s facilities.

“We currently have supplies such as coats, gloves, blankets and toboggans for the homeless who plan to stay outside. Plus, our canteen is ready to serve if needed,” said Wilson.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast emergency cold weather shelters will be open as long as there is a need.

The Corps will continue to monitor the conditions about whether to open up on future days or nights as conditions and circumstances warrant.

To contact The Salvation Army in your area, please go to the locations page on our website at www.salvationarmyalm.org/locations

Jon-Kalahar

Making a change. Officers’ lives could be different without The Salvation Army


I am constantly amazed by the people I get to meet and the stories they tell me. Working at the Divisional Headquarters for The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, I work with 32 local corps to try and bring the most attention to their work together with local and divisional resources. On my last visit, to the Dothan, Alabama Corps, I realized I sometimes make this job more difficult than it has to be.

The Dothan Corps is the farthest trip time-wise and mileage-wise from the Divisional Headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi. This means those officers and their employees have to be really good at what they do. Don’t misunderstand however, any employee at DHQ would gladly make the trip to help in any way we can, but again, it sure is a long way to Dothan.

Long story short, the communication team, Daphne Nabors, our creative specialist, and myself, drove to Dothan to meet the officers on their home turf for the first time and found out more than we bargained for. This is why I am writing this story.
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Captains Christopher and Kelly Bryant have served the Lord in The Salvation Army for eight years. Their current appointment, in Dothan, is their first outside the state of Texas. Captain Christopher Bryant’s family was helped by The Salvation Army.

“We received food, clothes, lived in the shelter. My mom even got a job at The Salvation Army,” said Christopher Bryant.

But despite the help and attending church, his parents’ lifestyle never changed.

“We went to church, but that was only a couple hours a week. The drinking and parties…that was our entire life.”

Christopher first met Kelly at Salvation Army summer camp when they were twelve. Kelly’s parents are Salvation Army officers. From that moment, however, their lives took dramatically different paths. Captain Christopher Bryant’s mother was an alcoholic, his step-father was an abusive alcoholic, and his birth father was a biker who dealt drugs. This is not the background you expect a Salvation Army officer to have.

At fifteen, Captain Bryant’s mother died. He was on his own, officially emancipated at sixteen. His younger sister went to live with their grandparents in Anderson, South Carolina. This will play an important part in the Bryant’s lives.

Christopher’s life went downhill from there. He dropped out of high school, and almost went to prison.

“I found myself in a bad situation after I was arrested on a drug possession charge and facing serious jail time,” said Bryant

The judged ruled the drugs were seized through illegal search and seizure, the first break that would begin to change Christopher’s life.

He then turned to his grandparents.

“I asked them if I could stay with them for a few weeks to get things back in order.”

They took him in, although, still seen as a problem by his grandmother, his time was limited. Still, this was break number two. Christopher knew he had to make the most of this chance.

“I gotta make a change. I’m either going to be dead or in jail for the rest of my life.”

Turns out, break number three was a big one. His sister attended The Salvation Army church in Anderson, South Carolina. The officers in Anderson at the time Christopher went to stay with his grandparents? Kelly’s parents, Majors Mike and Nettie Morton .

You might say the rest is history, but the Bryants did not move straight into officership. Kelly earned her culinary degree while Christopher worked as an industrial electrician, but it was during this time he learned to play the guitar. Several years later after moving from South Carolina to Oregon, they felt the call to do more with their lives.

I can’t help but think about Jeremiah 29:11 when it comes to the Bryants and specifically Captain Christopher Bryant:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

No matter your situation, no matter your problem, no matter where you come from, The Salvation Army is there to help because we aren’t perfect either. We are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jon-Kalahar

Doing the Most Good: As workers prepare for flooding, Vicksburg and Jackson Corps provide food

The Salvation Army of Vicksburg and Jackson helped feed 50 Warren County workers Thrusday who are filling sandbags around the Old Depot Museum on Levee Street in Vicksburg. Volunteers served lunch as the workers prepare the area for the rising Mississippi River. Workers have been working for days to protect the museum which sits right on the banks of the river. The Mississippi River is expected to crest at Greenville, MS on January 13 and at Vicksburg on January 15.  Our Emergency Disaster Services Director, Terry Lightheart is working with local emergency management organizations to make sure The Salvation Army can respond to areas most in need.

“This is why we are here, to provide food to first responders. In a flood situation, it is these workers filling up the sandbags to hopefully protect this property,” said Lightheart. “Right now, The Salvation Army is on stand by from Greenville and Vicksburg, to Natchez, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, if these local and state agencies need us, we’ll be there.”

Flight to the North Pole

On Dec. 15, 2015, The Salvation Army of Jackson, MS, participated in the 10th Annual Flight to the North Pole event. More than 60 children were treated to the event, where they were “flown” to the North Pole by the MS Air National Guard, met Santa & Mrs. Claus, played with elves, and each received their very own bike and sack of toys and goodies! The event was sponsored by Y101, the Mississippi Air National Guard, the Brain Injury Association, and The Salvation Army Jackson Metro Area.

The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi sending aid to areas hit by historic flooding

south carolina supplies 5The Emergency Disaster Services of The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi (ALM) is joining in the effort to assist residents in South Carolina hit hardest by severe storms and flooding. South Carolina has received a federal disaster declaration to include 11 counties. The ALM Division is supporting the response and recovery efforts by providing 1400 disaster clean-up kits, 78 insulated food distribution containers (cambros) and 9,000 cambro liners. The semi-truckload of supplies is being shipped to South Carolina from our warehouse located in Jackson.

The insulated food containers will be utilized to support bulk distribution of hot food to affected residents.  The clean-up kits will be distributed to local residents to assist in recovery efforts. A clean-up kit consists of household cleaning supplies such as a broom, mop, bleach, all-purpose cleaner, a pair of cleaning and work gloves, face mask, scrub brush and squeegee mop.

Terry Lightheart, ALM Divisional Emergency Services Director, who is currently deployed as a Salvation Army Liaison at the South Carolina State Emergency Operations Center stated, “Supplies are being provided from ALM to South Carolina through a request from The Salvation Army South Carolina Incident Command. Much work has already taken place. However, there is more to be done to help residents affected from this storm, specifically from devastating flooding.”

As part of the mission of The Salvation Army we provide emergency disaster services and relief to those affected without discrimination in the name of Jesus Christ. Currently, The Salvation Army is providing food, drinks, snacks, clean-up kits and emotional and spiritual care. These services will continue throughout the response and recovery efforts.

The Salvation Army asks people who want to help those affected by the storm to please give through one of four channels.

You can donate online at: disaster.salvationarmyusa.org

You can call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or text STORM to 51555.

You can also donate by mailing a check to The Salvation Army, Southern Territorial Headquarters at P.O. Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301. Please label checks “East Coast Floods.”

How an alcoholic goes from nothingness to an inspiration

Working in the warehouse of a Salvation Army Family store is anything but glamorous. Working in the warehouse of the Family Store in Lafayette, Louisiana there’s never a dull moment. Fay Portier is the Lafayette Corps warehouse manager.

“Sometimes it’s hectic, but you gotta keep going,” said PortierDSC09319

This week’s highlight is what looks to be an Olympic gold medal…or at least a replica.

With the help of Corps Officers, Majors Mel and Esther James, Portier stopped long enough to share his personal story with me. Portier is always on the go. He starts his pick up route at 7am and returns to the store by ten to begin sorting donations so they can be sold in the front of the store. Portier knows staying busy is better than where he’s been.

Portier will celebrate four years sober November eleventh.DSC09357

“I finally got tired of waking up drunk,” said Portier.

Working his way through The Salvation Army’s adult rehabilitation program, Portier first started out as a bell ringer, then served as the driver going around Lafayette picking up donated items. A year later, his current position came open.

Portier is now a corps soldier and Sunday school teacher, sharing the Word and passing on his experiences to men who need his guidance. It’s a role he never thought he’d be in.

“I would have never thought that, but I just tell them to trust in God, and The Salvation Army. They’ll help you get on your feet, get on track,” said Portier.

Clothes, shoes and other goods are dropped off at The Salvation Army when they’re not wanted anymore. Through our stores, they become repurposed and needed again by someone else.

Fay Portier came to The Salvation Army not knowing if his life would ever be of use to anyone. The Lord has given him a new purpose, and he is definitely needed. He’s needed to provide a positive influence in the lives of the many people he comes in contact with each week.

Greenwood teen answering God’s call

Walking to church Sunday, nineteen year old, Greenwood, Mississippi resident, Jeremy Griffin knew this day would be one he’d not soon forget.

It was just three short years ago, Jeremy was walking the same road, out with his aunt and cousins going door to door trick or treating on Halloween night. He remembers not wanting to get out that night but his aunt made him go.

It just so happened that evening would change his life. The Salvation Army was hosting a fall festival on its church grounds. As they passed by, Greenwood Corps Officers, Captains Ben and Wendy Deuel asked Jeremy and his family to join them…a simple invitation that made all the difference in Jeremy’s life.

The following Sunday evening he experienced his first church service through a special teen night.

“I never knew about The Salvation Army,” said Griffin. “The things they do to help others; it inspires me.”

Inspiration was something Jeremy greatly needed in his life as he began attending church as often as he could. Jeremy’s parents were already divorced when he happened upon the fall festival that night. He lives with his grandmother and uncle sleeping on the couch. The house is too small for him to have his own bed, but they make it work. In fact, Jeremy’s answer is quick when asked who he looks up to.

“My uncle is my hero. He wants the best for me.”

As he became more familiar with the Deuels, the church, and The Salvation Army, Jeremy experienced many firsts in his life. He went to summer camp for the first time where he slept in a real bed for the first time in years. He became a senior soldier for the Greenwood Corps, worked in the Family Store where he earned his first pay check, and even graduated high school.

“God is putting everything in place,” said Captain Wendy Deuel.

“I like how they welcome you in,” said Griffin. “The Salvation Army will let you in. They want you to hear the word of God.”

It is this word that God has placed on Jeremy’s heart so he can take another “first” in his life.

“I was at youth councils. There was a man on stage and his words just spoke to me,” said Griffin. “Get up and go. I was scared.”

But Jeremy didn’t let fear get in the way of accepting what God has in store for his future. Jeremy plans to attend cadet school at The Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth College in Atlanta. But at nineteen, he’s not quite ready just yet.

“It’s been our responsibility to help him along, help him grow up,” said Captain Ben Deuel.

So again, Jeremy walked to church last Sunday knowing the day held another first for him…his first sermon.

“I just want to help people and through The Salvation Army, I can help people. That’s what I want to do,” said Griffin.

The mission of The Salvation Army is to meet human need in His name without discrimination. Many times that need is food, or shelter, or money for the light bill, or overcoming addiction. Other times, as in Jeremy’s life, it’s extending our hands in hope to inspire him to accept Christ’s love so he can be an inspiration to someone else.

We are looking forward to what Jeremy will become and do in the future.

Lightheart takes over Emergency/Disaster Services for Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division

Terry Lightheart 1For The Salvation Army’s Emergency/Disaster Services, you hope your services aren’t needed, but you must be ready in case they are. That’s the fine line these employees walk. You may not be needed each day or even each week, but when you are called upon, you must be prepared to respond. Disaster services is all about preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts.

Growing up in Canton, Mississippi, with an Army Lieutenant Colonel father, our division’s newest Emergency Disaster Services Director, Terry Lightheart says preparedness was just a part of everyday life.

“My father and mother believed in always being prepared. When we shopped for groceries, it was for a month’s supply. Living on a farm, we always had a garden and preserved what we grew. My father also kept extra supplies such as fuel, batteries, flashlights, camping equipment etc. as a backup so that our lives would not be too disrupted in an emergency,” said Lightheart.

This type of living instilled in a young Lightheart a sense of personal responsibility that launched within her a passion for preparedness as an adult.

“I realized that I wanted to be involved in emergency management as a career after becoming a disaster response volunteer for the American Red Cross following Hurricane Katrina,” said Lightheart. “An opportunity to do just that came when a full-time salaried position as the Emergency Services Manager opened. I was already actively involved as a volunteer, so I was thrilled to fill the position.”

This decision opened doors for other opportunities to serve in the emergency management profession. Prior to joining The Salvation Army family, Lightheart served as the Director for the Office of Preparedness with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of three Bureaus (Exercise, Plans and Training). In this capacity, she coordinated the efforts of the Plans Section for the State Emergency Operations Center and served as the Chair for the Governors Active Shooter Task Force. Prior to this appointment, Terry served as the Hurricane Program Manager for MEMA, and as a Senior All Hazards Planner for the Mississippi State Department of Health where she focused on earthquake, mass fatality, and non-ambulatory patient transportation planning training, coordination, and exercise.

“Through prior positions, I have had the opportunity to work with The Salvation Army,” said Lightheart. “I was impressed with how the representatives that I encountered were always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to provide disaster relief services to those in need. It was evident that The Salvation Army was and is invaluable prior to, during and after disaster related events.”

Lightheart firmly believes that emergency preparedness is a team and community effort.  She sees her and other ALM-EDS staff primary roles and responsibilities as providing support to the Corps and Service Centers. Therefore, one of her first goals is to become better acquainted with The Salvation Army officers, local and state community leaders, and other Salvation Army family members in order to promote awareness and continuity of operations across the three state division. Several other goals include working as a team to develop a written Emergency Operations Plan,  recruitment of disaster response volunteers through training and exercise ultimately building a response team that is three levels deep to cover incident command positions during  states of emergency and as requested, to provide divisional support for disaster response and recovery efforts.

Lightheart is pleased to learn how much The Salvation Army does outside of disaster services.

“Prior to this position, I was not fully aware of The Salvations Army’s mission. I am impressed with the diversity of programs which includes a whole community concept of unconditionally serving all those who are in need through ministering and providing support for daily living. I have no reservations about being a part of this great organization and have felt nothing but welcomed by everyone that I have encountered I support the mission and I am glad to help in any way that I can.”

Terry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency Management from Jacksonville State University. She has earned the designation as a Mississippi Certified Emergency Manager (MCEM). Since 2013, Terry has served as the Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee for International Association of Emergency Managers – USA (IAEM-USA). She serves on a volunteer basis as an Assessor for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP), is a member of the Mississippi Civil Defense/Emergency Management Association, a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, a member of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Epsilon Pi Phi Emergency Management Honor Society.

The Heralds of Grace: Experiencing Ordination and Commissioning

As an employee of The Salvation Army with a grand total of thirteen months experience, I set out to Atlanta (Southern Territorial Headquarter of The Salvation Army) with my wife to take in the Ordination and Commissioning of 66 soon-to-be officers.

Let me first say, I love working for The Salvation Army, it is by far the best place I have worked in my career. I was honored to be invited to the ceremonies. So as a communications professional, I felt it was my duty to experience something that gives me an idea of what The Salvation Army is. I want to understand why someone would sign up for two years of “college”, receive an appointment that changes every three years and join the forces that serves the hungry, homeless, and poor across the world.

I mean it has to be a true calling, right?

I know the officers I have met are true men and women of God, many with several years of experience, but how did they get to this point? It all started with THE CALLING.

Let me be perfectly upfront about what I mean by a calling. A calling means God has spoken directly into your life about what he wants for you. Some choose to ignore His call and waste years trying to avoid what will happen while others step right out on their faith in Him and move forward.

In this session of cadets, the Heralds of Grace, there were some who ignored Him for a time and some who accepted His call immediately.

As my wife and I entered the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center (awesome place, by the way), we didn’t know what to expect. For many of the 66 cadets, this was a true culmination of what they had waited their whole life to become. It was their last night as cadets. They were about to step over the threshold into officership in The Salvation Army!

We saw beautiful presentations, heard magnificent songs, and witnessed life changing testimonies. What I found out is many of these cadets before me were once just like everybody else…just like me for that matter.

One cadet, a former police officer, felt the call of God as he lay bloody and injured after being run over by a gang member. Another felt the call after refusing to join her husband a church for the empteenth time.  These cadets are husbands and wives, men and women, young and not so young, families and singles stepping out on the grace and love of God. I wish I had time to tell you in great detail all the testimonies I heard, but I could never do them justice.

We witnessed cadets and officers alike worshipping God and praising the name of Jesus Christ even though they’ve yet to find out what their next step was to be or even where they may be in a year.

What struck us the most? They were accepting “the call” blindfolded and full speed ahead.

It’s not a life for the faint of heart. Notice I said life, not job. This is more than a job. A job you get up in the morning and drive to an office, and work for eight plus hours then go home. For Salvation Army officers, it is 24 seven, 365 days a year.

As you can tell, I respect these men and women for what they do. I could never do it.

So, we sat and watched as one after another walked out to center stage to find out where this calling would take them first. I tracked each one that received their assignment to this division.

I will be here should they need help in their life’s journey. Maybe that’s my calling.

One thing I know for sure, The Salvation Army, it’s officers, soldiers and employees stand ready to Do The Most Good because we stand on the love of the one who died for you and for us, Jesus Christ.

So, 66 new officers are moving to their new appointments throughout the Southern Territory, and as their name suggests, they are heralds of God’s magnificent work in their lives, heralds of God’s grace.

Greater Baton Rouge Corps creating hope, looks to make a difference

As an All-American football player at Louisiana State University, NFL Pro Bowler, and head coach at LSU, you’d think Jerry Stovall would have lots of stories about his playing days and time as a football coach, and he does. However, it’s his time as a Sunday school teacher and lessons learned from his father that highlighted his speech and the Baton Rouge Corps’ first Shield of Hope dinner.

The Baton Rouge Corps has big plans for the future of The Salvation Army.  The Corps broke ground earlier this year on what will soon be a new shelter and plans for a community center serving up to 250 children daily are also in the works.

“We are going to continue making the kind of difference the people around our community deserve,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Baton Rouge Corps officer.

This dinner was a first of its kind effort to make Captain Meredith’s plans and ideas a reality, but as Advisory Board President Gerald Garrison said, they need help.

“It’s going to be a group effort, no doubt, from local partners and businesses to individuals around our community,” said Garrison.

It’s those individuals Stovall focused on from the podium on this night.

“Jesus instructs us to love people anyway. He loved me anyway,” said Stovall.

It’s the love of Jesus and the love of his earthly father that allowed him to overcome the death of his new born daughter, allowed him to reconcile with his mother who never saw him play a game in the NFL, and showed him how to love his wife.

“We cannot always control the circumstances we are in, but we can control ourselves,” said Stovall.

It’s here that Stovall’s message intertwines with the mission of The Salvation Army.

“When you got people who are less fortunate, you’ve got to help them anyway.” said Stovall.

Through his life, Stovall says there are two things he’s found that don’t cost a thing and don’t require any special training…to love and to serve.

“Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it,” said Stovall.

Right now, The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge is doing what they are supposed to do by loving, serving, and taking care of those in the community who need it the most.

We are a Shield of Hope.