Posts

Finding A New Path

Stanly Cochren has found his path. He lost it for a while, but with a little help and a lot of work, he’s found what he calls his opportunity to get everything straight. “After I paroled out of prison my life was on a downward spiral. Before I came here, I didn’t have a job. I got on my drug of choice and that led me to be homeless,” says Stanly. Originally from Talladega, his circumstances led to his looking for a way out of a bad situation. He found that way at The Salvation Army shelter in Montgomery, AL.

That pathway out began with wanting more for his life. Lt. Bryan Farrington, Montgomery Salvation Army Corps Officer, says that meeting with those in need begins with finding out what those needs are. “We call it life on life. We ask how we can help you move forward in life,” says Lt. Farrington. “If a person may be in a bad situation but doesn’t want help, you can give them resources to help but chances are they will consume the resources and be right back in the same place.” So, when a person in Stanly’s situation arrives at the Corps office or shelter, they usually have a reason to seek out a better way to live their life. “I just got tired of being tired,” says Stanly. “Until you come to that realization that you got people out there that are genuinely trying to help you, you’re going to be complacent in the situation that you’re in.”

One of those people is Camille Gross, the social worker for The Salvation Army in Montgomery. “I interact with approximately 20 clients on a daily basis.” From food to clothing vouchers and assistance with bills, Camille is there to help clients in tough times find their way out. “I assist them with getting medicines. Steering them into the pathways for different services that we don’t provide. I can set up appoints for them. Provide transportation. We do everything that we can here for the residents on a daily basis,” Camille says.

Lt. Farrington says that his shelter is a place to find help, but for those willing to make a greater effort, it can be a place to find hope as well. “Right now what we have is an emergency shelter. That’s for a person who is homeless and doesn’t have a place to go. They can stay here, no questions asked for a period of two weeks. They can eat, take showers at night. It’s for someone who’s fallen on hard times.” Finding a temporary respite is, however, only the beginning. “This is not just that you’re here for a while and then you’re gone. (We can be) a partner in life to help you walk out of a trap, so that you have some means to keep your life stable,” Farrington says.

Some of those partners are people in the community who have given their time and resources to offer help to those in need. Camille does double duty as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Montgomery Corps. From ringing bells for the Red Kettle campaign to donations of food and clothing, local volunteers are a key part of what The Salvation Army has to offer. “We always need volunteers at our soup kitchen. We also utilize the volunteers at our donation center to help with sorting the donations that come in.” Camille says.

As for Stanly, he says that he has further to go. He has completed classes and now works two jobs, seven days a week. “It’s a lot of work, but being out in my old life, it was a lot harder.” Now, on his new path, Stanly hopes that those in need of help can find the same chance he did. “You’ve got to want it. I just want to say that if you’re out there and you’re looking for a turnaround in your life, give this program, The Salvation Army, a chance to just help you get it right.”

The Salvation Army providing warmth, place to stay as winter weather hits the South

Warming stations, shelters open and extending hours across Alabama and Mississippi

JACKSON, MS -With Winter Storm Helena pushing freezing temperatures, ice and snow into the Deep South, The Salvation Army is responding with a warm place to stay, a hot meal, and  supplies for those in need across Alabama and Mississippi.

The Tuscaloosa Corps opened a warming station Thursday evening as temperatures dropped. The Tuscaloosa’s Center of Hope has 73 beds available with the ability to take in up to 130 residents should the need arise. The warming station is expected to be open through the weekend.

“The Salvation Army has a safe, warm place to stay for those trying to get out of the cold, said Major William Shafer, Tuscaloosa Corps Officer. “If the weather continues into next week, we will keep our doors open as long as there is a need.”

In locations as far south as Biloxi, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama, The Salvation Army has opened its doors and is providing meals. In those locations, once the temperature drops below 40 degrees warming stations are open and shelters extend their hours to help all who don’t have a place to stay.

“”We will open our cold weather shelter with meals until the temperature is better,” said Major Mark Brown, Coastal Alabama Command Officer.

Even in places like Baton Rouge, where last August’s flooding left The Salvation Army without a shelter, officers and personnel will be moving through city streets offering blankets, soup, and coffee.

“The weather this past year has presented many challenges to our neighbors and even to us at The Salvation Army, and today is another challenge with the cold.  After losing all of our command facilities, The Salvation Army is still here to provide help and hope to those in our community,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Baton Rouge Corps Officer. “We will have two vehicles roaming through the city serving from 3pm through late in the evening.”

The Columbus, Mississippi Corps will also deploy a warmth patrol in their area serving hot chocolate, coffee and handing out blankets.

As the storm moves across Alabama, corps in Huntsville, Montgomery and Anniston, Alabama are ready to welcome those who need to get out of the dangerously cold temperatures.

Local residents in need can expect all our locations to include extended hours for shelter as well as hot meals and beverages available to those who need to escape the cold.

To find a Salvation Army Corps in your area, please call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or log onto our website at salvationarmyalm.org and click on LOCATIONS.