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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.

Jackson Salvation Army Delivering Necessities To Seniors

With the disruption of normal routines and access to necessary supplies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,  a disproportionate number of lower-income Americans could be impacted. The Salvation Army in Jackson, MS is taking steps to mitigate this impact and provide physical and spiritual care. With a desire to keep their community safe and to follow CDC recommendations,

“It is our goal to make certain that our senior population does not go hungry or forgotten during this difficult time”

The Salvation Army Jackson has canceled all community programs in their facilities. However, they are delivering boxes of food and supplies to the homes of 70 seniors who have come to rely on hot, nutritious meals at their facilities. “It is our goal to make certain that our senior population does not go hungry or forgotten during this difficult time,” said Michelle Hartfield, the Director of Community Relations in Jackson.

If you would like to help The Salvation Army continue to serve your neighbors in need throughout this crisis, you can make a donation online here.

Highlighting Feeding Programs in Mississippi

Hundreds of thousands of meals were provided throughout Mississippi by The Salvation Army in 2019. Those meals include home-cooked meals, home-delivered meals, meals provided at the shelter, mobile canteen meals, holiday meals, and more. The Army’s Mississippi feeding program highlights of the year are the Jackson and Tupelo locations, which collectively distributed 159,326 meals last year. These locations offer several assistance programs including grocery assistance and daily meals for their communities. They also host annual events to raise awareness and funds for their local feeding programs, such as Jackson’s SOUPer Bowl and Tupelo’s Empty Bowls.

Jackson

Corps Officers: Majors Robert & Karen Lyle

The Jackson Corps helps to cure hunger by providing nutritious meals to anyone in need. In addition to addressing the immediate symptoms of food insecurity, the programs are designed to help identify and treat its root cause. This holistic approach to the needs of each person helps move many from “hungry” to “fully healed.”

Jackson provides breakfast and dinner 365 days a year at its Center of Hope as well as lunch on the weekends. The Center of Hope is an adult-only shelter that provides breakfast, dinner, counseling, and access to showers, laundry, and other amenities. Residents are also provided with assistance and tools to find employment.

Meals are also provided twice a week through the senior’s programs and once a week through a youth character development class. Food boxes are also offered to every Angel Tree family each Christmas.

A total of 43,490 meals were served and 2,827 grocery orders were distributed by the Jackson corps in 2019. The location also hosted its 23rd annual SOUPer Bowl fundraiser, the main event focused on raising funds for feeding programs, Sunday, February 2, 2020, at the Sparkman Auditorium at the Mississippi Agricultural Museum.

The event takes place every year on Superbowl Sunday and features soups and desserts donated by over 20 local restaurants and served by volunteer local celebrity servers. Past servers have included many Jackson area television and radio personalities and Miss and Mrs. Mississippi. Each year, attendees can taste as many soups and desserts as they would like and enjoy live music, a silent auction, and games.

Tupelo, MS

Corps Officers: Majors Ray & Whitney Morton

“We are painfully aware that Mississippi is the most food-insecure state,” Major Whitney Morton, Tupelo Corps Officer.

Due to this awareness, Major Morton makes sure the Tupelo location is doing its best to keep the community fed and healthy.

The new Tupelo building, which opened in late 2019, features space for families, who before had to live in separate quarters, and a newly expanded Soup Kitchen.

Tupelo has a daily feeding program that serves 75-100 people at lunch and approximately 50 people for dinner. So that all meals are covered in the Tupelo area, a local church serves a hot breakfast each weekday. These meals are available to anyone in the community, free of charge.

The shelter did not have access to a kitchen during summer 2019, and the canteen had broken down and needed significant repairs. To ensure that no one went hungry in their neighborhood, nearby churches, civic groups, food trucks, and partner agencies took turns serving meals prepared off-site and brought to The Salvation Army’s parking lot.

“It was incredible to see the community in action and the church being the church in the fullest sense,” said Major Whitney Morton, Tupelo Corps Officer.

Tupelo served 115,836 meals, provided 664 grocery orders, and delivered 4,343 meals to individual’s homes. These meals are only possible through community donations of funds, food, and friendship. Many of the volunteers who prepare and serve food have been doing so for years. Each weekend for the last eight years, Stone Soup Ministry partners have made and served Saturday lunches in Tupelo. They line up volunteers, pay for the food, and prepare it in time for lunch.

Tupelo served roughly 3,000 meals with the help of 323 volunteers on Thanksgiving Day. Community members began preparation for the holiday weeks in advance, readying green bean casseroles, fluffy sweet potatoes, and dressing. Charter Tupelo Salvation Army Advisory Board member, JenniLynn Johnson, has organized the Thanksgiving Community meal for fifty years.

The Tupelo Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary hosts the community’s most significant annual spring celebration, Empty Bowls, a fundraising event to raise money for feedings at the shelter, similar to Jackson’s SOUPer Bowl. Last year’s event raised over $45,000. This year’s event is Wednesday, March 4.

The Salvation Army responding, standing by should weather become serious over the weekend

The Salvation Army is already providing aid to residents affected by a round of severe storms moving across the southern part of our Division and first responders on the scene helping those in need. Salvation Army Officers, Majors Bert and Cristy Lind, with the Laurel, Mississippi Corps have deployed a mobile feeding unit to serve drinks and snacks in Mize, Mississippi.

Thursday afternoon the National Weather Service says an EF-2 tornado touched down near Magee in Simpson County and Mize in Smith County, both Southeast of Jackson, Mississippi. The storm toppled trees and power lines, plus damaged several homes and causing flash flooding.

Other Salvation Army Corps are on standby from Jackson to New Orleans to Mobile with more storms being forecast for this weekend. Currently, the National Weather Service is predicting severe weather throughout the weekend with the potential for more high wind and tornadic activity.

“The entire Division is on alert,” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division. “Equipment and personnel are ready to deploy and provide disaster relief services as needed.”

The Salvation Army will coordinate its response with state and local emergency management officials in order to provide for areas with the most need.

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.