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Social Worker Secures Homes For Families While Fighting COVID-19

Treshone Collor, Director of Social Services for The Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans, recently secured permanent housing for 12 families—having a total of 39 children between them—while she was fighting her own battle with the coronavirus.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command has been doing its part to make sure all residents and staff are safe and secure. Staff members continue their day-to-day operations, making sure vulnerable populations receive meals and finding homes for families. Working in a state with the most rapid spread of the virus has been challenging, but The Salvation Army’s dedicated staff continue doing their part to serve the New Orleans community.

Collor found out she was COVID-19 positive on April 9th, while already working from home in self-isolation due to the Louisiana Stay at Home order.

“I took my multivitamins, took medicine, continued doing anything that I regularly do, but went to get tested to be sure. I wasn’t showing symptoms when I tested but started developing flu symptoms as time went on. I had a fever, back pains, migraines, and restless sleep. It was challenging and scary,” Collor shared.

Collor has a son with sickle cell anemia. “I’ve been in mommy mode to keep his immune system up. Making sure he didn’t contract the virus was my biggest concern,” she added.

Despite dealing with her health, Collor was still concerned about the 12 families who needed a permanent home.

“My goal was to get those residents out of the shelter. I knew they were there and had limited access to things because of social distancing. We had 39 children at the shelter, so I knew it could become a trying situation. I had to keep moving,” Collor stated.

Collor succeeded in getting all of the families out of the shelter and into permanent housing. She also housed eight additional families who lived in other shelters throughout New Orleans who received services from the Army.

It’s easy to spiral into fear, but Collor stays motivated by reassuring herself that success will continue despite this pandemic. “People keep telling me I was born to work in social services, and I tell them I’ll take note of that,” said Collor.

“I am amazed at the dedication Treshone Collor has shown during the COVID-19 outbreak. She was forced to self-quarantine early after the Stay at Home order took place here in New Orleans. Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done,” said New Orleans Area Commander, Major Ernest Hull, about Collor’s dedication to serving others.

“My faith and positive mindset helped me to keep going. Providing services for those who need help was a drive for me to continue even though I was dealing with a personal illness. I still wanted to help. I still wanted to be dedicated to the individuals here. There were many days when I couldn’t do anything but stay in bed and rest. Those were trying days. This whole process has been trying and very memorable. I think I’ll carry on this conversation for many years to come,” Collor added.

 

The Salvation Army Responds to Louisiana’s Stay at Home Order

On Sunday, March 22, 2020, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced an official Stay at Home order for the entire state of Louisiana due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the state. The order took effect on Monday, March 23 and is in place until the morning of Monday, April 13, when local schools are scheduled to re-open. This mandate affects The Salvation Army throughout Louisiana in many ways, most notably in shelter operations. All seven of The Salvation Army’s shelters throughout the state are now housing residents 24/7. Shelters that usually serve only breakfast and dinner will now be serving three meals a day. This change to round-the-clock sheltering increases staffing needs as well as the need for more food and cleaning supplies. All shelters throughout the state are increasing daily cleaning and disinfecting measures throughout their facilities in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus and keep all shelter residents and staff safe and healthy.

Louisiana’s Stay at Home order is also resulting in the temporary closure of all Salvation Army thrift stores in the state.

New Orleans

The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command is sheltering 96 residents and providing three meals a day, plus activities to help alleviate boredom for its residents. Major Ernest Hull, New Orleans Salvation Army Area Commander, says that while 96 isn’t max-capacity for the shelter, they are limiting acceptance to the current residents for social distancing purposes. Many of these shelter residents are young children, and Major Hull is making sure to keep them entertained as well as safe—with “drive-in” movie nights and more.

“We’re trying to give them activities and the residents are good about constantly cleaning and disinfecting their dorms,” said Major Hull. Majors Ernest and Debra Hull are also currently living in the shelter to help provide for the residents’ needs during this unprecedented time.

In addition to taking care of their shelter population, The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command has also been requested by the state to help feed the unsheltered homeless population in the area. “While this is not your typical disaster setting, The Salvation Army is going to rise to the cause and meet the human needs of our communities to the best of our abilities. We have never retreated before and we’re not going to retreat now,” said Major Hull.

Baton Rouge

The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge has temporarily closed its thrift store and social services office due to the state-wide Stay at Home order. The Corps’ youth programs—the School for Performing Arts and character-building programs—have briefly stopped at this time to practice social distancing. The Men’s Recovery Program, which houses program participants, will continue with its regular schedule.

The shelter has limited its acceptance to 50 residents and is currently at capacity. Following city protocol, the shelter will keep an eye open for people showing signs of the virus. Shelter residents and staff are encouraged to wash hands frequently and to practice social distancing.

In addition to increased shelter operations, the Baton Rouge Salvation Army is also providing food to school-aged children and their families throughout the area. Nearly 150 grab-and-go lunches are provided to families Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout Baton Rouge.

“We’re here. The Salvation Army has been serving Baton Rouge for 115 years, and it’s not going to change. In times of difficulty, we stick to our mission of preaching the gospel of Jesus and to help people in his name without discrimination. We are working every day to take care of the needs of our community,” stated Major Donald Tekautz, Salvation Army Baton Rouge Corps Officer.

Alexandria

The Salvation Army of Alexandria includes both a veterans shelter and a general shelter, with both remaining open 24/7 for the duration of the statewide Stay at Home order. Both thrift stores are temporarily closed at this time.

The Alexandria Corps is currently providing dine-in breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all residents. Feedings take place in shifts, with only two individuals seated at a six-foot table and cleanings taking place between each shift.

Breakfast is provided daily to the community and served outside of the shelters. An anonymous donor has purchased 85 kolaches twice a week for the next two months that are being distributed each morning along with a piece of fruit and a cold beverage. The Alexandria Corps is working towards bagging all breakfasts and dinners for transient residents and the general public. Hot meals are provided in shifts, but the shelter does not have the staff and financial resources for sandwiches and lunchmeats.

“In Alexandria, we meet daily as a staff to discuss the continually evolving conditions regarding COVID-19. We are practicing social distancing in every aspect of operations,” stated Alexandria Corps Officer Major Richard Watts.

With the new guidelines of the Stay at Home order, the shelter is encouraging residents to stay indoors. Furniture has been rearranged to practice social distancing, and staff is working toward feeding the public and residents outside of the building via the canteen and outdoor tables.

Monroe

The Salvation Army of Monroe’s shelter, which houses men and women, is currently at capacity with 50 residents. Due to the new mandate, the shelter is now operating 24 hours a day, serving lunch in addition to the breakfast and dinner normally provided. In addition to the cost of supplying enough food to meet the demand for round-the-clock shelter operations, purchasing food is challenging right now because of market shortages. Shelter staff members are making daily trips to grocery stores, but markets are either low on supplies or will not allow bulk purchases. The shelter has only about four day’s worth of meals left at this time. The Monroe Corps’ thrift store also had to shut down because of the Stay at Home order.

“We are now at full capacity and in desperate need of food to sustain our residents. We also need additional funding because more staff is needed to assist with running the shelter 24/7,” stated Captain Jerry Casey, Monroe Corps Officer.


The above is just a sampling, but all Salvation Army shelters throughout the state of Louisiana are operating 24-hours a day, 7-days a week for the duration of the state’s Stay at Home order. Every one of these shelters is in immediate need of extra food and cleaning supplies to meet the increased demand, but their biggest need is financial. The Salvation Army needs a great outpouring of public support to continue to serve the increased need in Louisiana. To support The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response efforts, please give now.

Multiple Feeding Units Respond To Ruston Tornado

Ruston, LA (April 26, 2019) — The Salvation Army has deployed three mobile feeding units to Ruston after a tornado ripped through that community yesterday morning, resulting in a considerable amount of debris from damaged commercial buildings, residential homes, and downed powerlines and trees. The city is home to Louisiana Tech which has a student population of approximately 12,000. The school experienced damage to its field house and a significant amount of debris scattered around campus.

In the aftermath of the storm, debris removal teams are in force to help bring some normalcy back to the community. The three Salvation Army mobile feeding units from Alexandria, Monroe and Shreveport will also be out in force today to provide meals, snacks and hydration to affected residents and debris removal teams. Captain Jerome “Jerry” Casey of the Monroe Corps is serving as Incident Commander and has been on the scene with the Monroe unit since early yesterday. He stated, “We’re meeting a lot of grateful people and they’re glad that we’re here. Some of them don’t understand why this happened. So we’re doing some spiritual nourishing as well as physical.” said Captain Casey. “There’s a community that’s hit, there’s a school that’s hit, there’s businesses that’s hit. So, we’re serving a lot of people in different situations,” he said.

Yesterday, The Salvation Army provided 160 meals, 160 drinks, and 250 snacks to tornado survivors in Ruston. The Salvation Army’s service to the Ruston community continues today.

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.

Federal emergency declaration issued for 5 LA parishes, state EOC begins 24-hour operations

JACKSON, MS (August 28, 2017) – As forecasts for Tropical Storm Harvey predict the future path the storm may take, The Salvation Army stands ready in Louisiana and neighboring states. The Louisiana Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is now monitoring Harvey 24 hours a day. The Salvation Army Division Liaison Coordinator, Bill Feist, will deploy to the EOC tomorrow to coordinate with state and non-governmental organizations to identify opportunities for The Salvation Army to provide disaster relief to affected communities.

“Our liason works shoulder to shoulder with state, county and local agencies to coordinate mass care needs such as food and hydration.” said Terry Lightheart, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Emergency/Disaster Services Director. “Coordination and communication is so important because no single agency can help everyone who is or may be in need.”

The federal emergency declaration is for Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vermilion parishes in southern Louisiana. Although torrential rain has already fallen, state officials are expecting upwards of ten to fifteen inches more in the coming days.

“Much like Texas, the National Weather Service is reporting the main threat for the southwest portion of Louisiana as flooding.” said Lightheart. “We also have been monitoring threats from isolated tornadoes.”

The Salvation Army is prepared to respond when needed. Currently, 29 canteens or mobile feeding trucks are on standby with personnel.

“Whether disaster relief needs are in Louisiana or Texas, we are ready. The mobile feeding units are stocked and personnel are prepared to deploy.” said Lightheart.

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 ready if needed with tropical storm heading for the Gulf Coast

JACKSON, MS (June 20, 2017) – The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi is preparing for the potential impact of Invest 93L along the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) of The Salvation Army has asked all 31 Corps and sixteen service centers across the three-state area to ready equipment and disaster personnel for deployment should the need arise.
“The first priority for The Salvation Army is to ensure its Officers, staff and volunteers are safe and that the facilities and equipment are secure,” said Terry Lightheart, EDS Director, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. “However, we are also ready to respond and provide support to those who will potentially be impacted from this storm.
The Salvation Army is working closely with state and local emergency management to monitor where the storm could possibly have the greatest impact. This also helps coordinate where to send out personnel and equipment, such mobile feeding units which provide hot meals, hydration and snacks.
Lightheart continued, “Regardless of where the impact my be, we will be ready to serve with helping hands and a willing heart.”

To keep up to date on all The Salvation Army is doing to help those in need and to donate to help us serve those in need, you can log onto our website at salvationarmyalm.org or on social media at facebook.com/ALMdivision and twitter.com/salarmyalm

Dillard’s Donation Makes a Difference in Baton Rouge

By Rebecca Nichols | rebecca.nichols@uss.salvationarmy.org
August 31, 2016


Dillard's Donation Makes a Difference in Baton Rouge
August 31, 2016
Rebecca Nichols | rebecca.nichols@uss.salvationarmy.org

Baton Rouge, LA— Sometimes there isn’t a way to properly express gratitude. There isn’t a hug big enough or a “thank you” loud enough. I’ve experienced that feeling so many times working for The Salvation Army. I’m rarely surprised these days by the love we get from the community, the love that’s shared between neighbors, the love that still exists in our world. It’s comforting to know I can expect it now, but it’s still often too big to put into words. Even when it’s hard to find, I know it’s there because I see it every day where I work. I know there’s hope.

Within a few days of the water rising in South Louisiana, I got an email from Mark Souter with Dillard’s department store. He simply introduced himself and said, “We want to help.”

These are always the most comforting words to hear during a disaster situation, and once I spoke with Mark in person, I really understood how much they wanted to help. Dillard’s wanted to donate 25,000 units of new clothing for flood victims but they also asked how we would distribute it. This isn’t a luxury we can often offer to those we’re assisting, so I told him I wasn’t sure just yet.

Having seen our warehousing site, Mark knew we didn’t have racks or shelves for clothing and offered to send his people in to rail out the walls. Only one problem, there was no air in the part of the mall we were utilizing for our distribution center. I told him I didn’t think we could fix the air conditioners, mechanically or financially, and he said, “Let me see what I can do.” I then got a text from a volunteer coordinator working at the warehouse… She said the outlets weren’t working either so we couldn’t even plug in large fans. Mark said, “Let me see what I can do.” I asked Mark if he could loan us some racks to put the clothing on… He said, “Let me see what I can do.”

This became a massive job, but also one very special to The Salvation Army. He sent us an electrician to fix the outlets and air conditioning, at no charge to us. He sent us 150 racks on which to place the clothing, at no charge to us. He sent us half a million dollars in clothes to place on those racks …at no charge to anyone. He was one of our many heroes during this flood event. And because he was our hero, he became the hero of thousands of people we’ve helped with that Dillard’s blessing. I jokingly texted Mark that we loved him on the day he solved so many problems for us, but it wasn’t really a joke. There was love all around. We loved because he loved. I see the love and there is hope.

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.

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