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Keeping Community | Jackson Corps Senior Citizen Program

The Salvation Army of Jackson Corps hosts a year-round Senior Citizens Program where community members over 65-years meet for ministry, arts and crafts, and socialize. The program runs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 9 AM – 1 PM. Different activities are offered, such as health and nutrition classes, daily devotions, community gym, and workout classes. Representatives from companies throughout the community also come to speak with seniors to keep them abreast about life skills and what’s going on around Jackson. Examples of companies that visit are health insurance representatives, funeral home directors, and brokers. Seniors participate in many activities during each program session and end the day with snacks and lunch. Seniors also have opportunities to participate in different Salvation Army programs to share their talents.

“This program was designed for seniors. We take field trips, host programs, and many other activities. Right now, we have a partnership with Comcast, so we’re able to provide internet essentials to our seniors. We have a virtual session coming up where we will do our first Zoom session with the seniors to try to help them better navigate the computer and get them to be more comfortable,” Jackson Corps Community Center Director, Nita Humphrey.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have not been able to have the program on-site, so I’ve been checking on seniors to see if they need anything. We also do biweekly devotional conference calls to help with their spiritual growth. We have made it where we are available. They have my cell. Some of them call and need immediate assistance. Anything that they need, we are there to make sure that they are taken care of during this time,” Humphrey added.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how the program operates, but The Salvation Army and members of the program have stayed in touch throughout the past year in hopes of maintaining a sense of community. A few of the Senior Citizen Program members have been hospitalized, or in nursing homes, so Humphrey and officers go to them to provide community care. They take items that the seniors may need and attend funerals when members pass away. Humphrey contacts families on behalf of the Army to see if they need anything.

“We do the best that we can to make sure that we are there for them. And making sure they’re okay throughout their daily lives,” Humphrey added.

Building Community

Ms. Inez Rushing is one of the seniors who keeps in touch with members of the program.

“I’ve spoken with everyone individually. They tell me they miss The Salvation Army and wish we were back. Being unable to meet with our group or family members has been really hard on us,” Rushing shared.

“We’ve stayed creative and keep in touch with each other. This is the reason we’re part of the Senior Citizens Program; to meet and form a community within our age group.

What’s been most missed is in-person devotions and gym class. One of the seniors uses her local Kroger to work out. She uses a buggy for support and walks around the entire store for exercise. Other members have taken to walking around their homes and yards as their source of physical activity.

“The Salvation Army has helped me a lot. First thing in the mornings, we’d have devotion, prayer, and scripture reading. I like doing that. Sometimes we have a guest speaker and other times we have a chance to go to the gym. That helps strengthen my lungs because I have certain respiratory issues. Everything is organized. We have lunch after our activities, and we have recognized birthdays every three months. I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in planning the Christmas program, which I enjoy a lot,” Edna Rhodes, member of the Senior Citizens Program.

Isolation Amid A Pandemic

Many seniors spent their quarantine with family to avoid complete isolation. One member has an 82-year-old aunt who she’s taking care of during the pandemic. She’s able to assist her aunt, and her aunt keeps her company. The Salvation Army of Jackson’s Senior Program hosted a weekly devotion throughout the pandemic to ensure seniors don’t feel completely isolated or forgotten.

“We’re all retired, and most of us don’t have many places to go. I’ve missed gathering; talking to each other. I miss the food,” Rushing said.

“We’re anxious to return. We’ve kept in touch. We’ve shared phone numbers and have a great line of communication. We call ourselves The Salvation Army Senior Citizens Family,” Rushing added.

The Seniors began meeting in person on January 11, 2021. Social distancing is in place, and masks are required.

Lake Charles Community Joins The Salvation Army in Hurricane Laura Relief

Lake Charles (September 6, 2020) – The Salvation Army has been on the ground in Lake Charles for over a week now, serving those affected by Hurricane Laura. In turn, many Lake Charles residents have found ways to thank and care for these tireless Salvation Army staff and volunteers.

One canteen worker, Bianca Mosley-Greene, parks her canteen near a convenience store every day. She and her partner have several work crews who regularly come for lunches. One crew leader, stating he just wanted them to know they are appreciated, has started bringing them both a red bull in the morning to keep up their energy.

Another Salvation Army truck driver, Denise Rembert, received permission to set up each day outside a house in a particularly hard-hit neighborhood. In addition to allowing the truck to park in their yard, the owners come out each evening, after donning masks and gloves, and help serve meals. They also load up meals to distribute to neighbors unable to come to the site.

Ms. Mary Dejeam has lived in Lake Charles for over 50 years. Despite extensive damage to her house and vehicles, her cheerful spirit cannot be vanquished. When Salvation Army volunteers brought her cleaning supplies and water, she wound up ministering to them. “When you serve God,” Ms. Mary said, “You give. And even when you’re tired, God is not going to leave you.”

Other community members have given financially at the Lake Charles Command Center. “We’ve seen you out in the community,” said one such donor, who wished to remain anonymous. “And we wanted to give back and help with what The Salvation Army is doing here.”

The Lake Charles community remains resilient in the face of extreme devastation. The Salvation Army will remain by their side, partners in a recovery effort, determined to see it through.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

Loving Thy Neighbor in Lake Charles, LA

Lake Charles, LA (August 30, 2020) – If you are searching for examples of people loving their neighbor as themselves, look no further than South Louisiana. Residents of Lake Charles, Louisiana are going above and beyond to take care of each other just days after Hurricane Laura decimated their entire region. With no power and no water, recourses are hard to come by, but many communities are pooling together to help their neighbors.

One man, Darcy Jones, owns a large generator and has been running it non-stop at his house. He has continued to supply his neighborhood with water and ice as well as a place to stop by and cool off. In return, some of his neighbors have taken it upon themselves to clean the debris out of his yard and help keep the street clear for people to get in. “We are all just doing whatever small part we can to get through this,” said Jones, a native of Wisconsin who has only lived in Louisiana a brief time.

Another group of New Orleans residents spent their weekend distributing water and masks on their own dime. They wanted no recognition but stated they could not sit around and not help in the small ways available to them.

One small business, Peggy’s Superette, has been offering their parking lot as a location for The Salvation Army canteens to provide meal service. Today the owner, Judy Nguyen, partnered with The Salvation army to provide food to her neighbors. Their store cooked and distributed 2,500 servings of boudin, turkey wings, and sausage alongside a Salvation Army canteen providing drinks, snacks, and breakfast boxes. “This community has supported our store and our family for 20 years,” said Nguyen, “Now, it’s our turn to support them.”

The Salvation Army will join these neighbors and continue their efforts on the ground in Lake Charles as long as the need continues.

As natural disasters can increase mental stress, The Salvation Army’s Emotional & Spiritual Care HOPEline remains available. Anyone needing a caring listener – whether because of natural disaster, COVID-19, or the stress of life in general – can call 844-458-HOPE (4673) for support. HOPEline hours are 8 AM to 11 PM CDT, 7 days a week. For the latest emergency disaster services news from The Salvation Army, follow the social feed on Twitter at @salarmyeds or visit disaster.salvationarmyusa.org. To donate to The Salvation Army’s disaster relief efforts, visit HelpSalvationArmy.org.

 

Bikes Donated To Aid Shelter Residents in Transporting to and From Job Interviews

Andrew Magee, Criminal Justice Department Coordinator at Louisiana College and Sunday School Teacher at River Outreach Church, and Bobette Lowe, a member of Magee’s Sunday School class, team up every month to host community feedings and giveaways in the Alexandria, Louisiana community. The themes change each month, ranging from community hair cuts, essential winter giveaways, and more. Their latest outreach involved donating ten bicycles to The Salvation Army of Alexandria, Bibles, and a meal consisting of red beans and rice, cornbread, and cake to those in need in Alexandria.

A majority of the homeless community who gather near the levee where Lowe and Magee distribute food and goods are residents of The Salvation Army, so the two decided to donate ten bikes to the corps to aid residents in traveling to and from job interviews. The bikes will provide flexibility to residents so that they do not have to rely on a public transportation schedule or risk being late due to having to walk to interviews. Residents will be able to rent bikes daily so that everyone at the shelter has an opportunity to utilize the gift.

“The Salvation Army is more than thankful to Andrew and Bobette for their generous donation. These bikes will aid our residents in finding employment and securing a brighter future for themselves,” stated Major Tim Williford, The Salvation Army Alexandria Corps Officer.

Lowe and Magee have grown to know the homeless community well by distributing food once a month and passing out blessing bags at the beginning of COVID-19. The kits consisted of jars of peanut butter, crackers, and juices to keep those in need full until they reach the next destination of feeding.

“It was laid on my heart to help people who are trying to help themselves. We wanted to give a hand up, not a handout. The bikes are to aid in residents securing jobs. The feedings are because God tells us that we should feed one another, whether it’s with knowledge or food,” Lowe shared.

“We held an event before last winter, where we filled backpacks with blankets, gloves, and winter essentials. We’ve also invited beauticians out onto the levee to give haircuts and makeovers to the homeless. We made GQ models out of some of the guys. The glow that a lot of them had after getting a haircut was unbelievable. They were so grateful, and it was so refreshing for them. We hope to do that one again,” Magee added.

“These are the people that Jesus witnessed to.”

Magee and Lowe rotate their feedings with other churches, usually taking on the third Saturday of each month. They also do closet cleanups, where they set up tables filled with clothes and other goods. There are even some stores in the area that will inform them when items are going on sale to provide what they can for the homeless. These tables are set up at every community feeding.

“We’ve built a relationship with the homeless community. They know our vehicles, and when they see us, they know we are coming to show love to them and bring them goods,” Lowe said.

“These are the people that Jesus witnessed to. He didn’t go to the All Saints churches. He went to the streets and found the needy. That’s who He loved on and fed. And in His word, we can learn more of His likeness, and that’s the goal; to show his word to others and to be more in his likeness,” Lowe added.

Magee and Lowe would like others to get involved, whether it’s feeding the community or donating bike supplies to the Army.

“I’d like to vocalize to the community that they can take part in this as well. There’s always room to improve and give back. People in the community can get involved by helping with the bikes’ upkeep. —Inner tubes for flat tires, bike helmets, chains, and other supplies. Just swing by the shelter and donate what you can. In my heart, I believe this should be a community effort and it becomes important for the church to connect with the community. Help by action. Just bring your donations to Major Williford,” Magee added.

Columbus Tornado Relief All About Community

Columbus, MS (February 28, 2019)— Immediately after an EF-3 tornado struck the small town of Columbus—known as “The Friendly City”—  on Saturday, February 23, 2019, The Salvation Army has been serving and partnering with community groups and businesses to bring as much help as possible to those in need. The Community Benefit Committee, a local volunteer group made up of community leaders in Columbus, approached The Salvation Army early on about working together and a fruitful relationship was born. “The Salvation Army’s values are so close to ours, so who better to work with,” said Rhonda Sanders, Columbus police officer and one of the chief coordinators of The Community Benefit Committee.

Columbus Salvation Army Corps Officer, Lt. Christian Smith, says the partnership has been a blessed experience all around. “We recognize the needs for the community will be ongoing and are grateful for all partnerships and the donations which have been provided thus far. It is heartwarming to see how everyone has come together to serve those who have been affected. It’s pretty much like providing a big group hug,” said Lt. Smith.

To date, The Salvation Army has distributed the following tornado relief items to the Columbus community: 2,480 meals, 2,020 drinks, 820 snacks, 400 comfort/hygiene kits, 160 tarps, 100 blankets, and 200 pillows. To donate to The Salvation Army’s relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org .

New officer, community volunteer working to make the most of Monroe Corps

The path to Monroe, Louisiana for New Yorker and Salvation Army officer, Sergeant Jerome Casey was a long and winding road to say the least. Addiction put him in jail with rehabilitation through The Salvation Army his last hope. It worked. The three years prior to his arrival in Monroe he ran the shelter in Gulfport, Mississippi and led several men down the same path to recovery he chose.

Casey has the same frame of mind when facing the challenge of restoring The Salvation Army on Hart Street. He’s honest and meets it head on.

“We were kind of a mess, to be honest with you. We’ve cleaned it up dramatically,” said Casey.

Casey arrived just after The Salvation Army was forced to close its shelter’s doors late last summer due to lack of funding. With only one remaining employee, Casey needed to make friends fast, but the closing of Monroe’s only overnight shelter didn’t make things easy for the first-time officer. That’s when Casey met Larry Joe Head.

“Larry welcomed me with open arms. He’s someone who came to volunteer, and he’s turned into quite a good friend, him and his wife,” said Casey.

The lifelong Monroe native, Head became the Sergeant’s connection to the community. Both men have turned the shelter project into a labor of love for this community. Each very complimentary of the other’s willingness to get things done.

“The Sarg is like no other, I guess you can say,” said Head. “It’s really interesting, when he starts talking, people just gravitate towards him.”

“Larry’s always doing something,” said Casey. “I’ll walk into a room where there was nothing and there’s lights and paint, and I don’t know how he does it. He keeps moving forward. He’s wonderful.”

With Larry Joe’s connections, 140 volunteers have worked nearly one thousand hours to get The Salvation Army’s shelter back open. Unfortunately, this is no overnight project. The Salvation Army first opened in Monroe in 1927. Its current location and building was established in 1961.

“There’s a lot of things been done over the years. Most of it has been adding on top of what was already there,” said Head.  “So, some of the things we did, we went all the way down to the original and took it out and replaced it with new stuff. But there’s been a good bit of fix up.”

Still, Casey remains positive.

He plans to create a whole new way of caring for the homeless including opening what he calls the courtyard of hope at 2pm. That means no lining up outside the building or sitting on the street curb waiting. He wants to bring in mobile medical facilities and extend the shelter hours in the morning till 10am, allowing Casey to have one on one time with each person to find out their needs. Casey says all of this with one thing in mind.

“It’s about instilling an ounce of hope. A little bit of hope goes along way.”

With remodeling nearing completion, the next challenge is securing enough funding to hire new employees for cooking, laundry, and overnight monitoring.

“The generosity of Monroe has been tremendous since I walked in this building, and I know they will support us as we help those who need it the most,” said Casey.

Salvation Army canteens reaching areas under served following Hattiesburg tornado

Melissa and Mike Bagett

(Lamar County, MS) Looking around you wonder how anything is left standing. Very few trees are upright, and even fewer homes on a stretch of Sullivan-Kilrain Road in Lamar County, Mississippi just outside of Hattiesburg. Most of what was here is now scattered across several stretches of property. Residents were told this is where Saturday morning’s tornado touched down and began its path of destruction for fifteen more miles.

Melissa Bagett is looking for the hidden treasures of family pictures she might find through the piles of debris left behind. Melissa and her husband Mike were here when the tornado touch down just outside their home.

“I heard it come over the trees,” said Mike Bagett. “When they say get in the bath tub, get in the bath tub. It was over in five seconds but it left this.”

A portion of their roof was ripped off by the storm and vehicles were pushed several feet by the strong winds. Homes up and down this road experienced the same, but all walked away. Now they must rebuild or move like the Bagetts are doing. The Salvation Army was the first service organization to stop by and offer help in the form of meals and a friendly face.

“It means the world,” said Melissa Bagett. “We all are having to do a lot of work out here and don’t have time to eat. It’s appreciated.”

“It helps. It tells me the community understands you need sustenance after something like this,” said Mike Bagett.

Mike is right when he says community. These are local Salvation Army disaster volunteers from the Hattiesburg Corps dropping off several containers of food.

Hattiesburg Corps officers, Captains Patrick and Stacey Connelly have turned their attention to healing those devastated by the storms despite having lost the use of most of their facilities themselves.

“We are still in a state of shock, but we had to make sure we took care of the community that supports us,” said Captain Patrick Connelly.

Right now, the estimate to getting back in these buildings is six to nine months. For now, a portable office is already set up on the campus.

“We knew immediately we needed a game plan to run out social services, our Boys’ and Girls’ Club and to meet needs,” said Captain Stacey Connelly.

How People Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation to the charity of your choice. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Officers their attention on healing community, not destruction

In the minutes and hours that followed the Saturday morning tornado that ripped through Hattiesburg, Mississippi and The Salvation Army Corps, the Corps Officers couldn’t help but wonder what will the future bring…what next?

But the feeling wasn’t for themselves or even their Corps’ buildings which suffered extensive damage, it was for the community and those they help through the programs offered here.

“We had to make sure we took care of the community that supports us, because the damage through this area is wide ranging. It was just right here,” said Captain Patrick Connelly, Hattiesburg Corps Officer.

“We knew immediately we needed a game plan to run our social services our Boys and Girls Club and to meet needs,” said Captain Stacey Connelly, Hattiesburg Corps Officer.

Captain Ronnette Smith says helping others is just what Salvation Army officers do.

“That’s just who we are, who God made us to be. The “SS” on our uniforms stand for “saved to serve”,” said Captain Smith.

Captain Smith lived on campus until December. She hadn’t finished her move completely. Her on campus apartment was flooded when the storm ripped off the roof and burst a water pipe.

“I can’t describe it, it’s a surreal feeling. You know what it’s suppose to look like but it doesn’t anymore,” said Captain Smith.

Work continues on the facilities the day after the storm and progress has been made to make sure the roofs to every building are covered and won’t let more water in. It will be several more months, however until they will be usable.

“They are telling us six to nine months until we can move back in. A portable office has already arrived, so that will be where we work for now,” said Captain Stacey Connelly.

The officers here continue to get support from their fellow Salvation Army officers across the country whether it be by phone, text or social media, but it was one visit that meant the most. Majors Roy and Jackie Johnson arrived at the Corps just hours after the tornado Saturday. Captain Patrick has known Major Roy Johnson since he was five years old. The Major’s hug brought tears.

“It was just a sense of relief, just to know we were not alone.”

How People Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation to the charity of your choice. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.