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Stepping Out On Faith

Meet Steven Washington, a resident of The Salvation Army Center of Hope shelter in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Originally from Marrero, Louisiana, Steven moved to Lake Charles at a time in his life when he had the clothes on his back and not much else.

The way Steven remembers it, that was a time when addiction and some poor choices in his life had caught up with him. “Well, throughout my life I’ve lived a disobedient life to God. There’s always consequences to sin. I became homeless, alcoholic, and I came to Lake Charles to get a new start,” Steven says. “One day I just said I was sick and tired of it, I’m just going to step out on faith. I hopped out on a bus, came to Lake Charles. I had no idea where I was going to stay or what I was going to eat. I only had enough to get down here,” says Steven. His first days were rough, sleeping under an overpass and struggling with hard realities of that life. He finally found a way out when someone told him about The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope shelter.

“I had no idea where I was going to stay or what I was going to eat.”

Steven Washington

Thanks to a generous community, The Salvation Army in Lake Charles has a place for Steven to go, as well as some tools that he can use to make a new life for himself. “Year-round here in a Lake Charles we have a Center of Hope. It’s a 30-bed men’s shelter that includes a soup kitchen as well as our social service department,” says Lt. LeAnna Marion, Corps Officer of The Salvation Army of Lake Charles. While the Center of Hope can offer emergency support to those in need, they also have programs that can offer men and women like Steven a chance to set a new course in life. “Those residents who are interested can work with our housing manager to complete budget work sheets and connect them to resources in the community. They can get their IDs, TWIC cards for work, connect them to resources to help them get rides, to go to school, and to help them eventually move out,” Lt. Marion says.

One of the largest industries in Louisiana is the oil and gas industry, and the TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) card is an essential tool for those who seek work offshore. Steven, an offshore worker by trade, says that he intends to make use of his new opportunity to build some better plans for the future. With the help of The Salvation Army, Steven has been able to obtain his IDs, his TWIC card, and more to help him on his way to a better life. “It’s a struggle. I’m not going to be perfect. I still struggle with past thoughts. Through my addiction to alcohol, every time an opportunity came up I just couldn’t get it right. But now my plans for the future are to get back offshore, save some money, and try to give back to The Salvation Army, to maybe help some people,” says Steven.

Salvation Army officers doing the most good as evacuees move into Louisiana

Lake Charles, LA – With most of the nation’s attention on Houston and Southeast Texas following Hurricane Harvey, Lake Charles, Louisiana as well as other cities in the state have seen a number of evacuees crossing state lines in search of a safe place to stay until the flood waters recede. Salvation Army officers, working alongside partner organizations, are helping care for hundreds in the shelter at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

“The original plan was for our canteen truck to support shelters in the area with hot meals,” said Lieutenant Richard Watts, Lake Charles Corps Officer. “The city and churches quickly realized that one consolidated shelter was the best option.”

Lieutenant Watts, with the help of 80 volunteers, has managed meals three times a day for up to 1200 evacuees and residents driven from their homes by Harvey. Lieutenant Watts says it sounds like a daunting task, but the community has come together to make sure all those in need are helped.

“We have rallied as a community, and you can’t ask for more than that,” said Lieutenant Watts.

Lieutenant Watts also received a helping hand from Alexandria Corps Officer, Major Glenn Riggs, who provided emotional and spiritual care for the shelter.

“It’s been about comforting,” said Major Riggs. “I’ve cried a little, encouraged, empathized with them, even though you couldn’t possible know what they are going through.”

Major Riggs estimates he’s prayed and encouraged nearly 300 folks in this shelter. He says he’s spoken with some who have lost loved ones and their homes from the storm.

“They are pleased with the care they’ve received here, and even with the uncertainty, in fairly good spirits,” said Major Riggs.

More evacuees are expected in cities across Louisiana according to officials because flood gates will have to be opened to release the built-up water.

 

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

The Salvation Army in Louisiana, Mississippi standing by if Harvey moves east, 29 canteens ready to respond

JACKSON, MS – As Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a category four hurricane with 130 miles per hour winds, The Salvation Army in Louisiana and Mississippi must wait to see if Harvey turns back to the east. Officers, staff and volunteers across the three state Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division (ALM) are prepared to respond should that happen.

“We still are anticipating flooding here in Lake Charles,” said Lieutenant Richard Watts, Lake Charles, Louisiana Corps Officer. “The potential for severe weather will be with us into next week, so we are working with our local partners to make sure our community is prepared.”

A state of emergency has been declared by the Louisiana governor. The National Weather Service models for Southwest Louisiana show locations where up to twenty inches of rain could fall over the next week.

“We are asking the public and our personnel to be diligent,” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency/Disaster Services Director, ALM Division. “Just because Harvey has come ashore in Texas doesn’t mean this is over. We expect this to be at least a week-long event before we can determine Harvey’s impact here.”

The Salvation Army has 29 canteens or mobile feeding trucks stocked with water, snacks and food ready to respond if needed.

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

Cindy downgraded to tropical depression, The Salvation Army still monitoring need

JACKSON, MS – The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi is still monitoring the needs across our three-state area even as Cindy is downgraded to a tropical depression. To this point, The Salvation Army has received no requests for assistance.

“Cindy is still a threat as it moves northeast across the top of our area,” said Terry Lightheart, EDS Director, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. “We know with projected rainfall from this storm more flooding could still be a possibility into the weekend. Many areas of the Divison are also under a tornado watch or warning.”

With Salvation Army Corps located all across the Gulf Coast from Mobile to Biloxi to New Orleans and Lake Charles in Louisiana, officers will stay in close contact with local emergency management officials to make sure all needs are met. Shelters are also open to receive anyone who needs to escape rising flood waters.

“So far flooding has been localized but Divisional disaster relief personnel  and assets remain on standby until remnants of the storm have passed.”said Lightheart. “We would rather be prepared and not be needed than be caught off guard.”