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Finding Shelter & Success in Monroe, Louisiana

When Monica Petersen met Captain Jerry Casey, Corps Officer of The Salvation Army in Monroe, Louisiana, she had never found a place where she could find the support she needed. “I was an addict. And I had lost everything,” says Monica. “Captain Casey said I could come stay here,” she says, referring to The Salvation Army shelter in Monroe. Her addiction had made it difficult to rebuild a life. Her options of places to stay and people to spend time with had not worked to provide the stability she needed to make real change in her life. But after meeting with Captain Casey, Monica was able to find a place at The Salvation Army shelter.

“It’s more than just a place to stay,” says Monica. It is a place where she was able to find the opportunity to make real change in her life. It was a change that she is still working on, but it is a path she is not walking alone. Monica says that with the stability she found at the shelter and with the continuing help of Captain Casey, she is making progress in her journey. “He and I will sit down to talk from time to time. He’ll see how I am and where I’m going, and he’ll see if I have any other options like AA or other treatment programs,” she says.

It is a journey that she says was made easier during her time at the shelter. “It’s real safe and comfortable here,” she says. Meals are available every morning and evening, and the opportunity for emotional and spiritual care is also available. Monica describes the shelter as a real community. “He’s a really fair man.  Really good to his clients” she says of Captain Casey. Now that she is no longer staying at the shelter, she knows that the support she found in that community is still there. “If I need anything, he’ll go out of his way to help out,” says Monica.

Monica’s story is not unique, but she is grateful for the help she found. “I’ve been homeless for about a year and then I found a place,” she says. Now staying in her own place, she returns when she can to volunteer at the shelter, giving back to the community that helped her. “Thank God for Captain Casey,” says Monica.

To help The Salvation Army shelter in Monroe continue providing this vital help to Monica and so many others, please go to GiveShelterNELA.org and donate today.

DHQ employees lend a hand at the Monroe, LA Corps

Everybody could use a little extra help at one time or another.  This is true of individuals, communities, and in this case, the Monroe, Louisiana Corps of The Salvation Army. In the wake of an unexpected change in leadership and staffing, the Monroe Corps found themselves overwhelmed with an abundance of chores and a lack of manpower. The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters for the Alabama– Louisiana– Mississippi Division, located in Jackson, MS, gave permission for its employees to travel to Monroe for a day to help out. On Wednesday, February 11, those who chose to go did the round–trip in one day, spending the 5 hours they had in Monroe sorting and organizing all of the canned goods at the location.

Cindy Chesney, who was on just her 8th day as H.R./Office Manager at the Monroe Corps, had already made vast improvements to the Corps before the DHQ team arrived, but there was still much to do. According to Ms. Chesney, “The help getting organized is greatly appreciated and shows DHQ does care and is willing to help where needed. True teamwork! With the new transition, everything around the Monroe Corps is now organized and ready for the new officers so they don’t have to be concerned with cleaning and organizing. They can focus on the building needs, the community and the church.”

Below are the thoughts of the participants on what this opportunity to serve meant to each of them.

Gina Oubre, Divisional Human Resources Director: “It was a good day— to be able to go in and work hands-on to help a local community rather than sitting in an office. It makes the people that we serve more real and gives us the opportunity to assist the local communities from a hands-on standpoint.”

Lacey Sanders, Human Resources Generalist: “I absolutely love my job and working for The Salvation Army, but how I got involved with this organization was by working hands on at the Corps and with the Community.  That’s what began my love for this place.  My day to day job with The Salvation Army is working behind a desk and reviewing paperwork and processes so getting the chance to go to Monroe and really physically work hard to help improve a location was so rewarding. Exhausting! But rewarding. ”

April Thames, Benefits Coordinator: “I’m just happy to help and see what a Corps looks like in another location. It feels good to help them. Hopefully we can do this (again) and not just as a one-time thing. It’s nice helping a location that needs assistance cleaning up or sorting stuff. I enjoyed doing it. Maybe next time we can go and help another location.”

Maggie Zakikhani, recently retired, former DHQ employee: “I was happy to be able to go and help. It made me feel like we accomplished something good, so that they’ll be able to feed the people without a lot of problems.”

Volunteers are always needed. If you would like to volunteer at the Monroe Corps, visit their website or stop by their location at 105 Hart Street. As Cindy says, “The employees here are all personable and welcome volunteers and the help and support they can give.”