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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.

Gift from The Walmart Foundation boosts The Salvation Army’s efforts in Southern Louisiana

walmartJACKSON, MS (August 29, 2016) – The Salvation Army’s mission of Doing The Most Good is only possible when communities and community partners step up alongside our officers, employees and volunteers to make a difference in  people’s lives. Those partners are needed even more so when disasters strike.

This is the case in Southern Louisiana where 30 inches of rain fall led to historic flooding in places like Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, Gonzales and Lafayette just to name a few. The Wal-Mart Foundation has stepped up and provide a $100,000 gift to boost The Salvation Army’s efforts as we serve meals and drinks and provide food boxes, cleaning supplies, and comfort kits.

“This is such a generous gift that will help so many folks recovering from the massive flooding in Louisiana,” said Major Steve Morris, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “We are happy The Walmart Foundation is standing with us to make a huge impact in the lives of those who need us the most.”

“As our customers and associates continue to recover from this devastating flood, we are donating $100,000 to the Salvation Army to assist with relief efforts on the ground.  We will continue to partner closely with non-profit partners to fulfill our $1.5M commitment in Louisiana, supporting those hard hit by this disaster,” said Lee Siler, Senior Manager, Global Disaster Response and Preparedness

To date, The Salvation Army has served over 125,000 meals, over 150,000 drinks and our volunteers and employees have worked over 10,000 hours in support of disaster recovery efforts in Louisiana.

ALM personnel heading to West Virginia aiding Army’s response to “historic” flood

West Virginia 2The Salvation Army is actively helping survivors of the “historic” flooding in West Virginia, but with more rain expected and so many residents in need, the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi (ALM) Division has accepted the request to send our Emergency/Disaster Service Director, Terry Lightheart and Baton Rouge Corps Officer, Captain Brett Meredith to help with The Salvation Army’s response.

“The Salvation Army rallies to those in need,” said Lightheart. “Right now, the greatest need in West Virginia is getting food, shelter, and emotional and spiritual care.  We are working with government agencies, other relief organizations and thousands of volunteers. We have to work together to do all we can to help those affected get back to some normalcy as soon as possible.”

“The flooding has been devastating to the region, and as I prepare to go to the affected area, I pray that The Salvation Army and other organizations can provide comfort, care, and material assistance to those who may have lost everything,” states Captain Meredith.

The flooding began Thursday when nine inches or more of rain fell on parts of West Virginia in six to eight hours. Forty-four counties, primarily in the southeastern part of the state, were under a state of emergency on Thursday night.

In the first 72 hours, The Salvation Army provided more than 6,600 meals, nearly 3,400 snacks, and more 7,500 drinks to flood victims and emergency responders.  These services will continue as long as needed and as requested by West Virginia County Emergency Operation Centers.  As relief efforts continue, The Salvation Army anticipates widespread distribution of cleanup supplies and the initiation of case work after the July 4th holiday.

How people can help:

You can help by providing financial assistance to fund the flood relief work in West Virginia.  Those who wish to support The Salvation Army’s disaster response may do so by sending a check earmarked “June 2016 West Virginia Floods”  to their local Salvation Army office, online at http://tinyurl.com/zu6rn47, or by making a credit card donation at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.  Be sure to designate the donation for the “June 2016 West Virginia Floods.”

Although The Salvation Army is not requesting in-kind goods donations at this time, gifts of gently-used household goods, clothing, etc., are always needed by Salvation Army Family Stores to support their work in the local community. Find out more at SAtruck.org, or call 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825).

 About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyalm.org.

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

Flight to the North Pole

On Dec. 15, 2015, The Salvation Army of Jackson, MS, participated in the 10th Annual Flight to the North Pole event. More than 60 children were treated to the event, where they were “flown” to the North Pole by the MS Air National Guard, met Santa & Mrs. Claus, played with elves, and each received their very own bike and sack of toys and goodies! The event was sponsored by Y101, the Mississippi Air National Guard, the Brain Injury Association, and The Salvation Army Jackson Metro Area.

How an alcoholic goes from nothingness to an inspiration

Working in the warehouse of a Salvation Army Family store is anything but glamorous. Working in the warehouse of the Family Store in Lafayette, Louisiana there’s never a dull moment. Fay Portier is the Lafayette Corps warehouse manager.

“Sometimes it’s hectic, but you gotta keep going,” said PortierDSC09319

This week’s highlight is what looks to be an Olympic gold medal…or at least a replica.

With the help of Corps Officers, Majors Mel and Esther James, Portier stopped long enough to share his personal story with me. Portier is always on the go. He starts his pick up route at 7am and returns to the store by ten to begin sorting donations so they can be sold in the front of the store. Portier knows staying busy is better than where he’s been.

Portier will celebrate four years sober November eleventh.DSC09357

“I finally got tired of waking up drunk,” said Portier.

Working his way through The Salvation Army’s adult rehabilitation program, Portier first started out as a bell ringer, then served as the driver going around Lafayette picking up donated items. A year later, his current position came open.

Portier is now a corps soldier and Sunday school teacher, sharing the Word and passing on his experiences to men who need his guidance. It’s a role he never thought he’d be in.

“I would have never thought that, but I just tell them to trust in God, and The Salvation Army. They’ll help you get on your feet, get on track,” said Portier.

Clothes, shoes and other goods are dropped off at The Salvation Army when they’re not wanted anymore. Through our stores, they become repurposed and needed again by someone else.

Fay Portier came to The Salvation Army not knowing if his life would ever be of use to anyone. The Lord has given him a new purpose, and he is definitely needed. He’s needed to provide a positive influence in the lives of the many people he comes in contact with each week.

Greenwood teen answering God’s call

Walking to church Sunday, nineteen year old, Greenwood, Mississippi resident, Jeremy Griffin knew this day would be one he’d not soon forget.

It was just three short years ago, Jeremy was walking the same road, out with his aunt and cousins going door to door trick or treating on Halloween night. He remembers not wanting to get out that night but his aunt made him go.

It just so happened that evening would change his life. The Salvation Army was hosting a fall festival on its church grounds. As they passed by, Greenwood Corps Officers, Captains Ben and Wendy Deuel asked Jeremy and his family to join them…a simple invitation that made all the difference in Jeremy’s life.

The following Sunday evening he experienced his first church service through a special teen night.

“I never knew about The Salvation Army,” said Griffin. “The things they do to help others; it inspires me.”

Inspiration was something Jeremy greatly needed in his life as he began attending church as often as he could. Jeremy’s parents were already divorced when he happened upon the fall festival that night. He lives with his grandmother and uncle sleeping on the couch. The house is too small for him to have his own bed, but they make it work. In fact, Jeremy’s answer is quick when asked who he looks up to.

“My uncle is my hero. He wants the best for me.”

As he became more familiar with the Deuels, the church, and The Salvation Army, Jeremy experienced many firsts in his life. He went to summer camp for the first time where he slept in a real bed for the first time in years. He became a senior soldier for the Greenwood Corps, worked in the Family Store where he earned his first pay check, and even graduated high school.

“God is putting everything in place,” said Captain Wendy Deuel.

“I like how they welcome you in,” said Griffin. “The Salvation Army will let you in. They want you to hear the word of God.”

It is this word that God has placed on Jeremy’s heart so he can take another “first” in his life.

“I was at youth councils. There was a man on stage and his words just spoke to me,” said Griffin. “Get up and go. I was scared.”

But Jeremy didn’t let fear get in the way of accepting what God has in store for his future. Jeremy plans to attend cadet school at The Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth College in Atlanta. But at nineteen, he’s not quite ready just yet.

“It’s been our responsibility to help him along, help him grow up,” said Captain Ben Deuel.

So again, Jeremy walked to church last Sunday knowing the day held another first for him…his first sermon.

“I just want to help people and through The Salvation Army, I can help people. That’s what I want to do,” said Griffin.

The mission of The Salvation Army is to meet human need in His name without discrimination. Many times that need is food, or shelter, or money for the light bill, or overcoming addiction. Other times, as in Jeremy’s life, it’s extending our hands in hope to inspire him to accept Christ’s love so he can be an inspiration to someone else.

We are looking forward to what Jeremy will become and do in the future.

Greater Baton Rouge Corps creating hope, looks to make a difference

As an All-American football player at Louisiana State University, NFL Pro Bowler, and head coach at LSU, you’d think Jerry Stovall would have lots of stories about his playing days and time as a football coach, and he does. However, it’s his time as a Sunday school teacher and lessons learned from his father that highlighted his speech and the Baton Rouge Corps’ first Shield of Hope dinner.

The Baton Rouge Corps has big plans for the future of The Salvation Army.  The Corps broke ground earlier this year on what will soon be a new shelter and plans for a community center serving up to 250 children daily are also in the works.

“We are going to continue making the kind of difference the people around our community deserve,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Baton Rouge Corps officer.

This dinner was a first of its kind effort to make Captain Meredith’s plans and ideas a reality, but as Advisory Board President Gerald Garrison said, they need help.

“It’s going to be a group effort, no doubt, from local partners and businesses to individuals around our community,” said Garrison.

It’s those individuals Stovall focused on from the podium on this night.

“Jesus instructs us to love people anyway. He loved me anyway,” said Stovall.

It’s the love of Jesus and the love of his earthly father that allowed him to overcome the death of his new born daughter, allowed him to reconcile with his mother who never saw him play a game in the NFL, and showed him how to love his wife.

“We cannot always control the circumstances we are in, but we can control ourselves,” said Stovall.

It’s here that Stovall’s message intertwines with the mission of The Salvation Army.

“When you got people who are less fortunate, you’ve got to help them anyway.” said Stovall.

Through his life, Stovall says there are two things he’s found that don’t cost a thing and don’t require any special training…to love and to serve.

“Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it,” said Stovall.

Right now, The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge is doing what they are supposed to do by loving, serving, and taking care of those in the community who need it the most.

We are a Shield of Hope.

The Salvation Army Responds As Storms Wreak Havoc Across Gulf States

(story originally posted by Thad Hicks on disaster.salvationarmyusa.org)

Jackson, MS (April 28, 2015) – The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi has responded to four separate emergency situations across the division due to severe weather.

The storms affected residents near Dothan, Alabama, in the small community of Columbia, several families are displaced due to storms Saturday. Majors George and Patty Price, along with employees and volunteers, started by serving dinner out of a local gymnasium. Their operation has since expanded to serving lunch and dinner. The Dothan Corps is also providing drinks and ice for the nearly 800 homes that lost power.

“This is what we do,” said Major George Price. “The need was there and we simply stepped in to help.”
On the Alabama Gulf Coast, a sudden storm with high winds caused an annual boat regatta to end in tragedy Saturday evening just off Dauphin Island near Mobile, Alabama.  The storm capsized several boats leading to at least two deaths. The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama responded to help serve food, drinks and snacks to local law enforcement and Coast Guard officials who are searching the Mobile Bay for missing boaters.  To reach searchers, The Salvation Army loaded a Mobile County Sheriff’s Office boat with food and drinks to take out to the law enforcement agencies.

“It’s just one less thing they have to worry about,” Patricia Finkbohner, Salvation Army director of development and community services, said. “They didn’t want to come in and take a break, they really wanted to stay out and search.”

The Salvation Army is also providing emotional and spiritual care to family members who are waiting for their loved ones to be found.

Rough weather Monday led to a possible tornado touchdown near Baton Rouge. Power was knocked out to several thousand residents in and around the area. The Baton Rouge Corps responded with a canteen to one of the hardest hit areas in Killian, Louisiana and passed out food bags.  “Many folks are without power and may not have been prepared for this storm,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Commanding Officer, The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge. “The Salvation Army will be there to meet these immediate needs, and we will be there as long as residents need our help.”

The same storm to blow through Baton Rouge also caused wind damage and flooding in New Orleans. At the New Orleans Area Command, the Center of Hope lost power. So, Major David Worthy and the overnight staff manned their crisis stations at the facility throughout the night to make sure the residents stayedsafe and secure.

“We used our disaster canteen truck to power fans and portable lights to shed a little light and move a little air around to keep things more bearable,” said Major Worthy.
Power has since been restored to the Center of Hope in New Orleans.


The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster survivors, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children.  82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.

Anniston nurse helps heal body, mind and spirit by volunteering

Lyndsey Watts Butterworth is a licensed practical nurse at the Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center. She spends her weekends taking care of patients, usually working twelve hours shifts.

I learned about Lyndsey’s story as The Anniston Salvation Army’s Captain Bert Lind walked me around the grounds. Lyndsey volunteers , and on this day,  was helping out at the warming station opened to keep folks out of the dangerously cold temperatures. She did not offer up the information about herself, just smiled, shook my hand, and went back to her work.

It was only later after a conversation with Captain Lind I decided to return the next day to “surprise” Lyndsey with a request for a picture and some brief questions.

Lyndsey made a chance visit to the Family Store before Christmas last year to shop and happened upon parents wanting to buy bikes for their children. Lyndsey felt she needed to help them. She gave them the money they needed. Lyndsey would return to the store, this time helping more folks who needed furniture.

“This isn’t enough. My husband and I have been blessed,” said Lyndsey.

Lyndsey’s husband suffered a stroke not too long ago. She has seen him fight to recover, and with her help, he has done just that. In fact, his recovery inspired her to take the next step.  So, she approached Captain Lind about dedicating one year of her life to volunteering at The Salvation Army.

“I’m giving a gift to help, but there’s a greater gift….God’s.”

With that in mind, Lyndsey helps wherever she’s needed. Her only request to Captain Lind is she cannot and will not work behind a desk, and he’s honored that request.

Usually she sorts donated clothing, but with the warming station opening every time the weather drops below 40 degrees, her main job is providing comfort and support for anyone who walks in the door… just like her job at the hospital.

At The Salvation Army, she’s turned that into helping those who may not be injured on the outside, but somewhere in their lives have lost their way. They need someone to listen. They want to be treated like a normal person. That’s why Lyndsey responds to everyone with a “sir” or “ma’am.”

“It doesn’t matter homeless, rich. They all deserve the same respect. It lets them know someone cares,” said Lyndsey.

In the Alabama, Louisana, Mississippi Division, there are 32 places where someone cares. If you need help, a meal, a place to stay, or help overcoming an addiction or know someone who does, please visit www.salvationarmyalm.org and find the local Salvation Army closest to you.

We are always looking for more volunteers like Lyndsey. Please consider volunteering

 

National Advisory Board visits ALM Division for the first time

When 44 of the brightest minds in business come to your division with the goal of making The Salvation Army better, it’s an event to celebrate.

Not only was this the first time the National Advisory Board (NAB) held its quarterly meetings in the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division (ALM), it was the first time the NAB convened in a smaller metropolitan area, Jackson, Mississippi.  Two facts not lost on Divisional Commander, Major Ronnie Raymer.

“These meetings put us on a national stage. The members of the National Advisory Board have influence throughout this great nation that translates into much needed support of The Salvation Army of which this division is a key part,” said Major Raymer.

Officers from all four territories, National Headquarters, including Commissioners David and Barbara Jeffery, and board members were greeted at the airport by Divisional Officers and staff. Each guest received a gift bag filled with Mississippi based items including a divisional booklet highlighting nine different corps programs as well as Emergency/Disaster Services, Angel Tree and youth summer camp in the ALM Division.

“This week gives us an opportunity to express the unique needs of our citizens in this part of the United States. Without these meetings, it might not otherwise be afforded to us,” said Major Raymer.

Following arrivals, a full day of meetings and discussions faced board members. First, Captain Chapman welcomed everyone to Jackson, officially with a breakfast including 75 local CEOs and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.

This board meeting also marked the first for William Burke as Board Chairman. Chairman Burke from Columbus, Ohio is the Senior Vice President for Corporate Marketing for Nationwide Financial. He walked away impressed.

“Jackson is a very vibrant city, the state is growing. There’s lots of energy and innovation and lots of care for those people in the part of the country,” said Burke.

Board member and former First Lady, Laura Bush also made the trip to Jackson to take part in all the events surrounding the meetings.

Thursday evening proved to be the highlight of the week for officers and board members alike. The Jackson Corps hosted a reception and dinner inside its Corps Community Center featuring chefs and food from across Mississippi. The entertainment was provided by local young adults, teens and children who use the center every day. Plus, local troop, Ballet Magnificat danced to Joy to the World and Territorial Headquarters Commissioner Don Bell was called on stage to feed Frank the Camel.

Commissioner Bell says by bringing the NAB to Corps across the country, each local advisory board finds out what is going on nationally, plus the local members see what it really takes in Doing The Most Good.

“Through their efforts, we raise the image of the Army. So by bringing the NAB to Jackson, we think The Salvation Army’s efforts in Jackson will get a boost,” said Commissioner Bell.

Planning for the week began months ago and many hours of work went into making sure this would be a time to remember for all involved. The meetings were deemed a success.

“We have a lot to be proud of here in the South and it’s pretty cool to show this off,” said Major Raymer.