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Biloxi Kroc Center Ministry Feeds Seniors Amid COVID-19

The Salvation Army Kroc Center of the Mississippi Gulf Coast began a meal delivery ministry for seniors at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are unable to gather food themselves, whether it’s due to a physical disability, illness, or lack of a vehicle. Hence, officers and staff administer meals and offer encouragement to seniors throughout the Gulf Coast area. It’s a beautiful experience for the seniors as well as the ministry team. Some have even come to know one another on a first-name basis.

“Many of the seniors offer us words of encouragement as well. They say, ‘We thank God for what you do. We appreciate you,’ and that inspires us to continue serving our seniors. We need to be there for our vulnerable adults,” stated Lieutenant Sonya Smith.

“Our ministry team has a huge heart for seniors. We wanted to find a way not only to feed them spiritually as well,” Lieutenant Smith added.

 

“People are connecting more than ever over kind words, letters in the mail, and in my case, a meal.”

 

The weather was terrible on the coast one day, but it didn’t stop the meal delivery ministry because they knew there were seniors out there waiting for their doorbells to ring.

“I asked God to find a way for us to deliver the meals safely, and what do you know, it stopped raining right around lunchtime. There was not a drop,” Lieutenant Smith stated.

The ministry has recently started delivering meals to a woman who is in dialysis. Lieutenant Smith is aware of the woman’s treatment schedule, so she tries arriving when she knows the woman will be home and settled. One day Lieutenant Smith arrived at the same time as the bus that transports the woman to and from her appointments. Lieutenant Smith waited for her to get settled. When she rang the doorbell, she was greeted with a “Come in sweetie.”

“When I rang the doorbell, and she said that, it felt like whatever I was going through was just lifted. It was so sweet. She was sitting there, waiting on her lunch. I’d had a rough morning, but I knew I needed to push on because someone was out there waiting on a meal. This is why we do what we do. There may be issues with the economy, there’s a virus spreading, and people are dying, but God is still good,” Lieutenant Smith shared.

“I went back to my car and just sat there and was filled with joy. I asked God to forgive me for complaining in a moment just because I was having a rough morning. This woman is going through dialysis and is one of the most vulnerable, yet still giving God glory. It’s the little things,” added Lieutenant Smith.

“Many spiritual exchanges are happening, and people are missing it because we’re focused on this pandemic. People are connecting more than ever over kind words, letters in the mail, and in my case, a meal. It was an exchange between one generation to the next,” stated Lieutenant Smith.

“We’re looking for these huge blessings during this pandemic, and God is telling us to look at the small things. He is allowing this pandemic to bring us together in compassion. I had a spiritual exchange with this woman that she doesn’t even know she’s given me. I gave her a meal, and she gave me gratitude. That exchange reminded me of why we do what we do. I put my mask on, and I go out there, and I’m going to be a blessing. I never think about someone else being a blessing to me. I’m thankful for that. Those are the things I hold on to,” Lieutenant Smith added.

Meals are delivered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to seniors throughout the Biloxi community. Services will continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact the Biloxi Kroc Center to sign up for meal deliveries.

Canteen workers pull double duty for Baton Rouge flood and Hurricane Matthew, proud to serve

You never know where disaster will strike next. Over the last several months, the southern United States has seen more than its fair share of disaster. In August, historic rainfall in south Louisiana caused flooding like no one had ever seen. Two months later, Hurricane Matthew bared down on Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas with heavy rain and winds flooding homes and knocking down power lines.

In the aftermath of each storm, it was The Salvation Army and its officers, employees and volunteers who brought hope to those in need in the weeks following.

The Army’s response and ability to help would be drastically reduced without the men and women who spend countless hours serving meals, drinks and snacks from our canteens In the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division, we are blessed to have hundreds who give of their time and energy to go above the call of duty as canteen workers.

Four canteen workers stand out these last few months Gary Williams, Birmingham Command, Jerry Casey and Leo Saurez, Mississippi Gulf Coast Command, and Joe McDaniel, Tuscaloosa Corps because they served during the Louisiana floods and after Hurricane Matthew blew through.

Gary Williams grew up in Levittown, PA. He retired from U.S. Steel and is now a driver for The Salvation Army in Birmingham and is responsible for transporting clients, picking up donations and food, and manages the fleet of vehicles in Birmingham, including the canteen.

Gary completed two deployments this year, one in Baton Rouge and the other for Hurricane Matthew. He was initially deployed to Jacksonville, Florida and was relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina after the storm hit.

“I enjoy being a canteen worker because I enjoy helping people out when they really need it,” said Williams. “

Gary says we was glad to have his son, Keith along as a volunteer during the Hurricane Matthew response, but their trip to Florida and then North Carolina was anything but easy.

“On our way traveling from Florida to North Carolina, we had a very difficult time because so many roads were flooded and power lines were down. It was long trip to North Carolina,” said Williams.

Mississippi Gulf Coast’s dream team of canteen workers, Jerry Casey and Leo Saurez say their willingness to work on a canteen comes from just loving to serve others.

Jerry, a Long Island native, laughs at the thought of another disaster so close to these two.

“We are young, healthy and have a desire to help people so it wasn’t a problem. We hope there isn’t another disaster in the next week,” said Casey. “If there is, we will certainly be willing to help!”

Born in the Phillipines, Leo counts among his favorite memories of both the Louisiana flood and Hurricane Matthew being able to help the children they encountered.
“When kids come to the food trucks and I see their smiles,” said Saurez.

 

And, it’s reactions like that that make these canteen workers feel blessed to work for The Salvation Army.

“They say, ‘GOD bless you, we can’t believe you came to serve us.’ As if they felt they weren’t deserving to be served,” said Casey.

“When we see people after a disaster they are so grateful that we are there to help. While serving in Baton Rouge, I met a woman that broke down and started crying and said she wouldn’t know what to do without The Salvation Army. I was able to be there at that moment, give her hug and let her know that there is help out there,” said Williams.

Thank You Gary, Jerry, Leo and Joe for all you do for those in need during times of disaster.

Shelters, warming stations opening to help those in need escape winter weather

20150219-DSC05134The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi is caring for those in need during the severe weather that brought dangerously low temperatures, plus snow and sleet in some areas. Many of our local corps will open emergency shelters and warming stations while temperatures continue to drop. They are also extending hours for several of our shelters.

Snow and sleet in north Mississippi prompted Greenville and Greenwood Corps to open an overnight shelter and warming stations for local residents to escape the conditions.

In Greenville, the overnight shelter opens at 7pm. The warming station is open from 8:30am until 2:30pm.

“We know this is dangerous weather for anyone to be out in overnight,” said Lieutenant Damon Graham, Greenville Corps Officer. “We want folks to know they have a place to stay or simply a place to go get warm.”

Coffee snacks, and meals in some cases are available in the warming station.

In Greenwood, the overnight shelter is open from 6pm till 9am and the warming station opens at 10am and closes at 6pm.

“The Salvation Army will keep these places open as long as there are people who need them. We won’t turn anyone away,” said Captain Ben Deuel, Greenwood Corps Officer.

Both shelters and warming stations are open to the general public.

In Hunstville, Alabama, Corps Officer, Major Donald Wilson says they are maintaining a warming station, but they are also helping the homeless who may not want to come to The Salvation Army’s facilities.

“We currently have supplies such as coats, gloves, blankets and toboggans for the homeless who plan to stay outside. Plus, our canteen is ready to serve if needed,” said Wilson.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast emergency cold weather shelters will be open as long as there is a need.

The Corps will continue to monitor the conditions about whether to open up on future days or nights as conditions and circumstances warrant.

To contact The Salvation Army in your area, please go to the locations page on our website at www.salvationarmyalm.org/locations

Jon-Kalahar