The Salvation Army Responds As Storms Wreak Havoc Across Gulf States

(story originally posted by Thad Hicks on disaster.salvationarmyusa.org)

Jackson, MS (April 28, 2015) – The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi has responded to four separate emergency situations across the division due to severe weather.

The storms affected residents near Dothan, Alabama, in the small community of Columbia, several families are displaced due to storms Saturday. Majors George and Patty Price, along with employees and volunteers, started by serving dinner out of a local gymnasium. Their operation has since expanded to serving lunch and dinner. The Dothan Corps is also providing drinks and ice for the nearly 800 homes that lost power.

“This is what we do,” said Major George Price. “The need was there and we simply stepped in to help.”
On the Alabama Gulf Coast, a sudden storm with high winds caused an annual boat regatta to end in tragedy Saturday evening just off Dauphin Island near Mobile, Alabama.  The storm capsized several boats leading to at least two deaths. The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama responded to help serve food, drinks and snacks to local law enforcement and Coast Guard officials who are searching the Mobile Bay for missing boaters.  To reach searchers, The Salvation Army loaded a Mobile County Sheriff’s Office boat with food and drinks to take out to the law enforcement agencies.

“It’s just one less thing they have to worry about,” Patricia Finkbohner, Salvation Army director of development and community services, said. “They didn’t want to come in and take a break, they really wanted to stay out and search.”

The Salvation Army is also providing emotional and spiritual care to family members who are waiting for their loved ones to be found.

Rough weather Monday led to a possible tornado touchdown near Baton Rouge. Power was knocked out to several thousand residents in and around the area. The Baton Rouge Corps responded with a canteen to one of the hardest hit areas in Killian, Louisiana and passed out food bags.  “Many folks are without power and may not have been prepared for this storm,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Commanding Officer, The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge. “The Salvation Army will be there to meet these immediate needs, and we will be there as long as residents need our help.”

The same storm to blow through Baton Rouge also caused wind damage and flooding in New Orleans. At the New Orleans Area Command, the Center of Hope lost power. So, Major David Worthy and the overnight staff manned their crisis stations at the facility throughout the night to make sure the residents stayedsafe and secure.

“We used our disaster canteen truck to power fans and portable lights to shed a little light and move a little air around to keep things more bearable,” said Major Worthy.
Power has since been restored to the Center of Hope in New Orleans.


The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865. 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 survivors, 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.

Anniston nurse helps heal body, mind and spirit by volunteering

Lyndsey Watts Butterworth is a licensed practical nurse at the Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center. She spends her weekends taking care of patients, usually working twelve hours shifts.

I learned about Lyndsey’s story as The Anniston Salvation Army’s Captain Bert Lind walked me around the grounds. Lyndsey volunteers , and on this day,  was helping out at the warming station opened to keep folks out of the dangerously cold temperatures. She did not offer up the information about herself, just smiled, shook my hand, and went back to her work.

It was only later after a conversation with Captain Lind I decided to return the next day to “surprise” Lyndsey with a request for a picture and some brief questions.

Lyndsey made a chance visit to the Family Store before Christmas last year to shop and happened upon parents wanting to buy bikes for their children. Lyndsey felt she needed to help them. She gave them the money they needed. Lyndsey would return to the store, this time helping more folks who needed furniture.

“This isn’t enough. My husband and I have been blessed,” said Lyndsey.

Lyndsey’s husband suffered a stroke not too long ago. She has seen him fight to recover, and with her help, he has done just that. In fact, his recovery inspired her to take the next step.  So, she approached Captain Lind about dedicating one year of her life to volunteering at The Salvation Army.

“I’m giving a gift to help, but there’s a greater gift….God’s.”

With that in mind, Lyndsey helps wherever she’s needed. Her only request to Captain Lind is she cannot and will not work behind a desk, and he’s honored that request.

Usually she sorts donated clothing, but with the warming station opening every time the weather drops below 40 degrees, her main job is providing comfort and support for anyone who walks in the door… just like her job at the hospital.

At The Salvation Army, she’s turned that into helping those who may not be injured on the outside, but somewhere in their lives have lost their way. They need someone to listen. They want to be treated like a normal person. That’s why Lyndsey responds to everyone with a “sir” or “ma’am.”

“It doesn’t matter homeless, rich. They all deserve the same respect. It lets them know someone cares,” said Lyndsey.

In the Alabama, Louisana, Mississippi Division, there are 32 places where someone cares. If you need help, a meal, a place to stay, or help overcoming an addiction or know someone who does, please visit www.salvationarmyalm.org and find the local Salvation Army closest to you.

We are always looking for more volunteers like Lyndsey. Please consider volunteering

 

Anniston Corps working for God’s Glory, Doing The Most Good

Being a parent of five children, I often hear the statement, “that’s not fair.” Usually, those three words come from a child who feels his or her parents purposely jobbed them out of getting the most awesome piece of candy ever created or the toy of all toys made by Santa himself.  They’re really dramatic about it too.

In another example, a friend’s parents bought them a scooter and it just wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t get a scooter also or so they’d say. Our reaction is the same…yes, Braden, Will, Olivia, Thomas, Lillian (I’m sure the order here has the youngest two yelling, “How come I can’t be first? That’s not fair!”) life is not fair and you don’t always get what you want.

I can imagine our heavenly father’s response to us would be the same. After all, God promises to take care of us, not necessarily that all will be fair throughout our lives.

These examples entered my mind as I left the Anniston Corps of The Salvation Army.  I visited with Captains Bert and Christy Lind for a couple days to figure out how we could garner more attention for the work they and a handful of dedicated employees and volunteers are doing.

You see, if there was ever a reason to cry “not fair”, it’s in Anniston right now. The Corps is housed in an old Coca Cola bottling plant, and when I say old, I mean 1926 old. The problems at the moment include a roof repair that will cost thousands and some old pipes that don’t like the cold weather.

This isn’t to say the facilities are inadequate. Walking around the grounds you can see just how much space the Anniston Corps has to work with…and work is not something the Linds or their workers shy away from.

Walking into the building for the first time, I was greeted by an employee helping a family wheel out groceries that will help them through the weeks ahead. The colder temperatures called for a warming station to be opened so the area homeless could get out of the dangerous weather. A volunteer mans the warming station to help those who come inside. (I counted at least fifteen who’d come in out of the cold when I was there). On that same day, volunteers gathered to go pass out food bags to the needy in town, and that doesn’t even speak of the busy Family Store on campus.

I’m definitely not writing this to make you feel sorry for these faithful officers, soldiers and employees, but rather the opposite. You see, these folks will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ no matter what their building looks like and no matter what it becomes in the future. In fact, the Captains aren’t ones to talk about their accomplishments.

I’m not sure about this because I never ask Captain Lind, but if I had to guess, my guess is he subscribes to the motto: “Let go, and let God.” So, the Linds will keep working, they’ll keep serving, and they will keep sharing the Word of God. One thing you won’t get from them though is a lot of complaining. They know who’s in control.

To me, that’s what makes The Salvation Army a great place to work and that’s why you should help out with your time, donations, and prayers. To make a donation or volunteer, contact The Salvation Army of Anniston at 256-236-5643

DHQ employees lend a hand at the Monroe, LA Corps

Everybody could use a little extra help at one time or another.  This is true of individuals, communities, and in this case, the Monroe, Louisiana Corps of The Salvation Army. In the wake of an unexpected change in leadership and staffing, the Monroe Corps found themselves overwhelmed with an abundance of chores and a lack of manpower. The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters for the Alabama– Louisiana– Mississippi Division, located in Jackson, MS, gave permission for its employees to travel to Monroe for a day to help out. On Wednesday, February 11, those who chose to go did the round–trip in one day, spending the 5 hours they had in Monroe sorting and organizing all of the canned goods at the location.

Cindy Chesney, who was on just her 8th day as H.R./Office Manager at the Monroe Corps, had already made vast improvements to the Corps before the DHQ team arrived, but there was still much to do. According to Ms. Chesney, “The help getting organized is greatly appreciated and shows DHQ does care and is willing to help where needed. True teamwork! With the new transition, everything around the Monroe Corps is now organized and ready for the new officers so they don’t have to be concerned with cleaning and organizing. They can focus on the building needs, the community and the church.”

Below are the thoughts of the participants on what this opportunity to serve meant to each of them.

Gina Oubre, Divisional Human Resources Director: “It was a good day— to be able to go in and work hands-on to help a local community rather than sitting in an office. It makes the people that we serve more real and gives us the opportunity to assist the local communities from a hands-on standpoint.”

Lacey Sanders, Human Resources Generalist: “I absolutely love my job and working for The Salvation Army, but how I got involved with this organization was by working hands on at the Corps and with the Community.  That’s what began my love for this place.  My day to day job with The Salvation Army is working behind a desk and reviewing paperwork and processes so getting the chance to go to Monroe and really physically work hard to help improve a location was so rewarding. Exhausting! But rewarding. ”

April Thames, Benefits Coordinator: “I’m just happy to help and see what a Corps looks like in another location. It feels good to help them. Hopefully we can do this (again) and not just as a one-time thing. It’s nice helping a location that needs assistance cleaning up or sorting stuff. I enjoyed doing it. Maybe next time we can go and help another location.”

Maggie Zakikhani, recently retired, former DHQ employee: “I was happy to be able to go and help. It made me feel like we accomplished something good, so that they’ll be able to feed the people without a lot of problems.”

Volunteers are always needed. If you would like to volunteer at the Monroe Corps, visit their website or stop by their location at 105 Hart Street. As Cindy says, “The employees here are all personable and welcome volunteers and the help and support they can give.”

 

National Advisory Board visits ALM Division for the first time

When 44 of the brightest minds in business come to your division with the goal of making The Salvation Army better, it’s an event to celebrate.

Not only was this the first time the National Advisory Board (NAB) held its quarterly meetings in the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division (ALM), it was the first time the NAB convened in a smaller metropolitan area, Jackson, Mississippi.  Two facts not lost on Divisional Commander, Major Ronnie Raymer.

“These meetings put us on a national stage. The members of the National Advisory Board have influence throughout this great nation that translates into much needed support of The Salvation Army of which this division is a key part,” said Major Raymer.

Officers from all four territories, National Headquarters, including Commissioners David and Barbara Jeffery, and board members were greeted at the airport by Divisional Officers and staff. Each guest received a gift bag filled with Mississippi based items including a divisional booklet highlighting nine different corps programs as well as Emergency/Disaster Services, Angel Tree and youth summer camp in the ALM Division.

“This week gives us an opportunity to express the unique needs of our citizens in this part of the United States. Without these meetings, it might not otherwise be afforded to us,” said Major Raymer.

Following arrivals, a full day of meetings and discussions faced board members. First, Captain Chapman welcomed everyone to Jackson, officially with a breakfast including 75 local CEOs and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.

This board meeting also marked the first for William Burke as Board Chairman. Chairman Burke from Columbus, Ohio is the Senior Vice President for Corporate Marketing for Nationwide Financial. He walked away impressed.

“Jackson is a very vibrant city, the state is growing. There’s lots of energy and innovation and lots of care for those people in the part of the country,” said Burke.

Board member and former First Lady, Laura Bush also made the trip to Jackson to take part in all the events surrounding the meetings.

Thursday evening proved to be the highlight of the week for officers and board members alike. The Jackson Corps hosted a reception and dinner inside its Corps Community Center featuring chefs and food from across Mississippi. The entertainment was provided by local young adults, teens and children who use the center every day. Plus, local troop, Ballet Magnificat danced to Joy to the World and Territorial Headquarters Commissioner Don Bell was called on stage to feed Frank the Camel.

Commissioner Bell says by bringing the NAB to Corps across the country, each local advisory board finds out what is going on nationally, plus the local members see what it really takes in Doing The Most Good.

“Through their efforts, we raise the image of the Army. So by bringing the NAB to Jackson, we think The Salvation Army’s efforts in Jackson will get a boost,” said Commissioner Bell.

Planning for the week began months ago and many hours of work went into making sure this would be a time to remember for all involved. The meetings were deemed a success.

“We have a lot to be proud of here in the South and it’s pretty cool to show this off,” said Major Raymer.

 

Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant, receives the “Others” Award

 

In William Booth’s time, there was no Twitter, no texting, not even the telephone was around yet.  So, reaching his troops around the world the fastest way possible was done by telegraph.  To avoid paying a hefty charge to use the telegraph, Booth would simple send one word messages. One such message included only one word and conveyed best what The Salvation Army was all about….”others.”

Today, The Salvation Army recognizes individuals and organizations who display extraordinary service to others with the “Others” Award.

The timing couldn’t have been better to present the latest “Others” Award to Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant. With the National Advisory Board in Jackson with most of the national leadership, Commissioner David Jeffery surprised Governor Bryant with the award at a leadership breakfast to kickoff the NAB’s meetings.

“Your life and the life of your wife are about serving others,” said Commissioner Jeffery.

Governor Bryant serves on the Jackson Corps’ advisory board, rings the bell at Christmas, and helps packs toys for Angel Tree recipients. As Governor, Bryant is working hand in hand with The Salvation Army and other faith based organizations to educate teens about waiting to have a baby until they are married. He says the program has led to a 15% reduction in teen birth rates in the state.

Governor Bryant says The Salvation Army’s promise, “Doing The Most Good” rings true in his life as he serves the state of Mississippi as governor.

“I’ve got to continue to earn this award, keep working for the Army and earn the award by doing the most good,” said Governor Bryant.

In the Governor’s office, on his desk, Bryant says he has two very important reminders for his daily life. One is the bible, but second, is The Salvation Army’s promise to everyone who might need us, four simple words….Doing The Most Good.

“It reminds me what we are here for, praising god in every way we can, and helping others,” said Governor Bryant.

The Jackson Corps’ Commanding Officer, Captain Ken Chapman, summed the presentation of the “Others” Award best.

“No other person I know deserves that award more,” said Captain Chapman.

Salvation Army Neediest Families supporters bring ‘smiles, joy and comfort’ to Coastal Alabama families in need

MOBILE, Alabama — As the 2014 Neediest Families Campaign draws to a close, your generous donations have once again raised more than $150,000 for The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama, Maj. Mark Brown, commander of the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama, said. Already those dollars are hard at work helping all of the families featured in this year’s campaign — bringing smiles, joy and comfort to many.

The Salvation Army has provided assistance with rent, utilities, food, furniture, and more, as these families work through their challenges. For this final piece of the 2014 Neediest Families Campaign, here are updates from a few of the families who would love to say “Thank You!”

salvation army neediest logo 2013.jpg

Demetrius McConnell

Demetrius McConnell has started off the new year by landing a new job! Demetrius was working for the 9-1-1 call center in Mobile County, until the 12-hour shift work put a serious strain on the single mother’s ability to care for her 10-year-old son, LaDarrius. But last week, she was interviewed and offered a job with Mobile Infirmary Medical Center’s dispatch.

“I’m so excited! The benefits will be great, and I have dispatch experience, so I know it won’t be hard to learn their system,” explained Demetrius. “And they rotate your days off, so I’ll be able to spend time with my son even though I’ll be working the 2:30-11 p.m. shift.”

Demetrius had been out of work since September, and had to cash in her retirement just to pay the bills through November. The Salvation Army was able to help pay some bills, so she wouldn’t lose her car or have her utilities cut off.

“I’m really grateful. Just helping with one bill would have been enough, but that was so wonderful. It’s a blessing, and I’m so appreciative.”

The soft-spoken mother also smiled ear to ear as she thought back to Christmas Day. She originally wasn’t looking forward to the holiday, knowing she wouldn’t be able to provide anything for LaDarrius. But The Salvation Army made sure he had plenty to open on Christmas morning.

“Christmas was perfect. I put up a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and I would put the presents out one at a time. He would try to guess what they were. Then I put his bike out for Christmas morning. When I saw the look on his face, it was priceless. I wish I knew the donor so I could tell them thank you!”

Demetrius is looking forward to finishing her criminal justice degree and rebuilding her savings.

Therasa Todd

Therasa Todd had overcome a lifelong battle with drugs just a few years ago. She got clean, took care of all her legal issues, and even got her daughter back. But everything she worked hard for starting crumbling before her eyes just before the holidays. She lost her job, lost everything she owned in a house fire, and her car broke down.

The Salvation Army paid to have her car repaired, so that she could continue looking for work and taking her daughter, Kylee, to school.

“That meant a lot to me. If I didn’t have a car, I wouldn’t have anything right now. It’s been my home, and everything I own is in this car right now,” said Therasa.

She still needs a master electrician to pull a permit before they can move forward with the fire repairs. And although she did find a job with another dog-grooming service, the work was only seasonal and she has been let go.

“It feels like I take one step forward, and fall back ten.”

The Salvation Army recently helped her fill up her car tank with gas, and the gas station owner even came outside and handed her $40. The small gestures brought her to tears. She said even strangers have shown incredible compassion since being featured in the Neediest Families Campaign.

“The day I was shopping for Kylee’s Christmas gifts, a man came up to me at the Dollar Tree. He said he saw me in the newspaper. At first I was kind of embarrassed, but then he hugged me real tight. He said he knows it’s a struggle to stay clean. He let me pick out some stuff for Kylee, and even took me to Rue 21 to pick out some shirts for her.”

Therasa has continued to maintain her sobriety, and has even found a new church and a deeper faith.

“I am excited for the new year. I’m going to get a job, I want to get a house. Things are going to get better.”

Shelia McMillian

The last year and a half had been tough for Shelia McMillian. Her oldest son, Brandon, started getting into serious trouble, and she lost her job because of all the time she spent dealing with him. The as-needed PRN work she picked up was barely enough to put food on the table.

For the McMillians, The Salvation Army was able to catch up Shelia’s water bill and help catch up daycare tuition for her 4-year-old son, Bryson.

“I’m overjoyed. The daycare allows me to work, and it gives him a place where he can learn. Bryson has a speech impairment, so he’s working with the therapists and learning how to talk,” said Shelia.

Shelia’s PRN hours have since picked up, and she’s steadily working two days a week now. Some of her former co-workers have reached out since seeing the story, hoping to help her get a job back at Franklin Primary Health Center. Even a friend who saw the story helped her get her heater fixed just in time for the arctic weather.

Sheila was also brought to “tears of joy” when she received gifts and clothes for the boys from The Salvation Army. There had been nothing under the tree last Christmas, but she said this was a “great” Christmas.

“Just to see them happy made my day,” she said.

Brandon’s face lit up as he showed off his new skateboard, and he was even thrilled about his new clothes.

“The first time I wore my new clothes was to church. I looked really nice. I felt like a new man,” the troubled teen said with a proud smile.

Other neediest families

Many of the other Neediest Families share similar stories of help and gratitude. Sarita West received beds for her two boys, and assistance with bills. Shanita and Ernest Smith received the dressers and bedding they couldn’t afford after escaping the projects. And with the help of an AL.com/Press-Register reporter’s friends, Ashley Knight received a house full of furniture for her new home.

There will be many more needy families that turn to The Salvation Army for help. More families will face job loss, health problems, and tough times. Though the campaign runs prominently during the holiday season, need knows no season. The Salvation Army will continue accepting donations for the Neediest Families Program, as they continue to assist families in need throughout the year.

Neediest Families

  • Many families in Mobile and Baldwin counties struggle from day to day and throughout the year with health, financial, housing, employment and other concerns. When critical needs arise, The Salvation Army is ready to assist.
  • Now in its 18th year, the Neediest Families campaign has helped hundreds of families as a result of the generosity of the Gulf Coast community. Traditionally begun each Thanksgiving and continued through the Christmas holiday, the campaign’s goal each year is to raise awareness and funds for The Salvation Army’s major charity of the year. The Neediest Families campaign has raised almost $3 million since its inception in 1996.

    Families are screened and selected by The Salvation Army to receive help.

    Today’s contributions: $33,070. Grand total for 2014 campaign: $154,393.17. Grand total for 2013 campaign: $154,876.29.

    In memory of Katy & Al, $10,000; In memory of Ben May, $5,000; Tal & Julie Vickers, $5,000; Conwell’s Pharmacy, $1,000; Mr. & Mrs. Tom Rosandich, $1,000; In honor of Salvation Army employees, $1,000; Harold and Carlos Parkman, $1,000; Carol and Dave Norris, $750; J.E. McCarty, $600; In honor of our service men and women, $500; In Memory of C W Burtz, $500; Theobald Family Fund, $500; The David & Sue Vosloh Charitable Gift Fund, $500; Melanie Bunting, $400; In memory of Robert L. Newman, $300; Chris and Jody Conrad, $250; Fred Bauman, $250; Larry and Jan Thomas, $250; Dr. Randall Powell, $250; Marion and Pat Hamilton, $250; Virginia Walton, $200; James Hollon III, $200; Aubrey Stegall, $200; H.C. Schenkenberger, $200; Mobile Women’s Duplicate Bridge Club, $175; Dennis Williams, $150; Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Simpson, $125; Sunshine Trotters Bowling League, $105; In memory of Henry E. Reimer, $100; Anne & Leon Brown, $100; Mark Kraft, $100; Betty Beverly, $100; Robert Voorhees, $100; Patricia Roland, $100; Jane and Frank Feagin, $100; Julio Turrens, $100; Oliver Delchamps, $100; Deborah Hood, $100; and Anonymous, $1,415.

  • How to donateTo contribute to the Neediest Families campaign, go to NeediestFamilies.org to donate online; call 1-800-SAL ARMY (1-800-725-2769) to donate by credit card; or send your check or money order made out to The Salvation Army Neediest Families campaign, to 1009 Dauphin St., Mobile, AL 36604.