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Lafayette Grows Community Garden

On any given day, you’re likely to find Jerry Brown working in the vegetable garden that lies right in the middle of The Salvation Army of Lafayette, Louisiana. He’s all but guaranteed to have a massive grin across his face. Jerry is the Social Services Case Manager at the Lafayette Corps, and his passion for helping people combined with his passion for gardening has helped to produce a beautiful community garden. The food grown in this garden will supplement the food for their shelter kitchen—which feeds not only the residents of the shelter but also many hungry people from the community, often entire families. He has taken on the community garden as sort of a special project, acting as lead gardener while always welcoming help from volunteers. “The concept has always been a community garden—one that’s been put in by the community, maintained by the community. It’s on our physical property here, but everyone pitches in . . . I provide some oversight, direction, and it exists on volunteers is what it amounts to,” said Jerry. “Much like what God does, you need some fertile ground to plant that seed, so the roots sink in deep.”

The garden is surrounded by a cinder block border containing marigolds and other flowers which serve as a natural defense against aphids and other harmful insects. The garden contains tomatoes, different types of peppers, romaine lettuce, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, different spices, cantaloupes and watermelons. Jerry adds, “We have plans for a few other things—radishes, carrots, and whatever else we can find.” The plants in the garden have mostly been donated. All Seasons Nursery, a local garden center, held a Salvation Army Day where they matched donations and sales in the form of a gift card to The Salvation Army. There have also been several donations from people around the community just checking in and providing what was needed. Jerry said, “It’s amazing. Anytime we need something it’s always provided, always.”

In addition to the food provided by the garden, Jerry also places a high value on the fellowship that comes from working on it and watching it grow. He recalls, “A number of us were actually planting the seedlings, and we just started talking about, there’s a time to plant and a time to reap, and we kind of expanded on that into our own little Bible study…” That seed of remembering a bible verse grew into a larger discussion about their faith and the foundation of their faith—how people grow when God has planted them in good soil and how that leads to bearing fruit in their lives. “It’s just, it’s a blessing. It’s amazing,” Jerry adds, “the community involvement just keeps getting better and better.”

When asked what effect he thought the community garden will have on the shelter residents, besides the obvious benefit of having fresh fruits and vegetables to eat, Jerry emphasized the calm and welcoming nature that it adds to the shelter environment—being just one aspect of a greater effort to bring more comfort and stability to the men staying there. Jerry said, “The shelter has been transitioning over the past year. For instance, we started serving breakfast for the men. Just that little bit helps them hold their head a little higher and put their shoulders back and they say, ‘Ok, I can face today.’ I mean, being on the streets, it’s not easy. Just that little bit right there, that little bit of fellowship and prayer in the mornings, that helps. They come here, it’s a place of refuge where they can let that breath out, and go ‘whew, I don’t have to look over my back anymore.’ We have love and compassion here. These are people that care. Look around the environment right here, it’s not a harsh environment, it’s a welcoming—that’s what we are.”

Columbus, Mississippi, Program is Challenging Young Adults to Dream Big

by Jon Kalahar

Rene Hill, In This Together program participant


Raising a child on your own is hard enough. Imagine you’re 20 years old. Sometimes you need a little motivation or, in Rene Hill’s case, a push. After signing up for assistance with the state, she was sent to The Salvation Army of Columbus, Mississippi. That’s where she met Lieutenants Damon and Jennifer Graham.

Lieutenant Jennifer has become Rene’s motivator.

“She’s not forcing me, but she is strongly on me to go to college,” Hill said.

As officers of The Salvation Army, the Grahams see the hardships local residents face after losing their jobs, overcoming addictions, or even trying to piece life back together following jail time. That’s why they are working with the United Way and the Mississippi Department of Human Services to give young adults a boost to get ahead in life through the I.T.T. (In This Together) program.

“We hear a need and see a place where we can help in a person’s life, if they allow it,” Lieutenant Damon said.

“Many of these single mothers grew up in single-parent households,” said Lieutenant Jennifer. “They need that extra motivation to overcome the generational cycle of poverty. There are a lot of barriers in their way, from lack of family support to limited education to their lack of self-worth.”

       Cherrell Murray, program participant

The program was started to show young men and women their value and worth in the community while working in a supportive, Christian environment. The goal is for each person who works through the program to become self-sufficient, not another statistic.

“Receiving assistance from the state is a temporary tool,” Lieutenant Jennifer said. “We are challenging them to dream beyond a temporary fix. This is their first stop, followed hopefully by college or technical training.”

Cherrell Murray, like Hill, has found a new outlook on her future since starting at The Salvation Army.

“It teaches me to love people, care for people,” Murray said.

Now Salvation Army volunteers, both Hill and Murray perform administrative duties while also stocking the food pantry and preparing groceries for people in need. They will soon take a placement exam to find entry level professions suited for their skills. From there, they will begin college level classes. Both women hope to follow in their mentors’ footsteps and become social workers.

“Basically, they both just encourage us to follow our dreams, try to keep on the right path, go to college. They inspire us a lot to make us want to do more,” Hill said.

 

Jon Kalahar is the Communications Director for the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Division.

Father/Son Team Delivers Food and Hope in Baton Rouge Flood

la floods, ketcham, volunteers

The Ketchams make a great team when it comes to disaster response. The father, son duo are one of the most experienced crews working in Baton Rouge this week following historic flooding throughout many parts of Southern Louisiana.

“I know how he wants things…I can anticipate what he wants,” said Ike Ketcham.

Dan drives and Ike navigates. They have worked as a team since Hurricane Gustav.

The pair moved to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit looking for work in construction. What they found was a way to help those in desperate need.

“We’ve had people try to pay us for the meals we give them off the canteen,” said Dan Ketcham. “I tell them I will only accept a handshake. You can see their surprise first, then the gratitude.”

Despite how “fluid” things seem to go on their canteen, their relationship hasn’t always been so smooth. Not too long ago, Dan was asked to read the bible scripture during church services at the New Orleans Salvation Army. He read from Luke 15…the story of the prodigal son.

“It took me a long time to read that cause my son was lost. I got choked up,” said Ketcham.

Ike saw what that scripture did to his father. Dan says he can’t explain what happened after that but Ike did a one eighty.

At one time, caught up in drugs and alcohol, Ike says The Salvation Army changed his life.

“The Salvation Army gave me the opportunity to change my life,” said Ike Ketcham. “I feel like I’m the luckiest person ever.”

Now, the Ketchams run their “ministry” out of a canteen each time they are called upon.

“I see how people are grateful, and the community is changed. It blows my mind every time we go out,” said Ike.

“The Salvation Army is a family, they welcomed me with open arms, and that’s what I do from the canteen,” says Dan.


To help those in these flooded areas across Southeast Louisiana, you can donate by going to http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/gulf_coast_floods.

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.

The Salvation Army Serves Up Hope for Flood Victims in Northwest Louisiana

March 17, 2016
Pattie Odom, Public Information Officer
318-424-3200 Ext 28
Pattie.Odom@uss.salvationarmy.org


salvation army flood louisianaShreveport, LA. (March 17, 2016) — As flood waters recede and many residents in Northwest Louisiana are being allowed back into their homes, The Salvation Army will be in the neighborhoods serving meals to recovery workers, first responders and residents. The Shreveport Salvation Army Canteen has been joined by a canteen from Biloxi, MS as we continue disaster service in Caddo and Bossier Parishes. It is estimated that almost 3700 homes in Caddo and Bossier Parishes have been damaged as a result of the flooding on bayous, creeks, lakes and rivers. Webster and Bienville Parishes continue to have homes and people who can only be reached by boats.

The Salvation Army has served over 5,000 meals to shelters, first responders, recovery workers and flood victims since the floods began, distributed 320 cleanup kits, 800 cases of water and 150 food boxes. Volunteers have stepped forward to help arrange hot meals, make sandwiches, prepare and deliver meals. “The Salvation Army will continue to distribute goods at the 200 E. Stoner location and through volunteers who are out in the community,” says Major Ed Binnix, Corps Commander. “We received a truck load of food boxes and clean up kits which we will be distributing in the neighborhoods and at the Forward Assistance Centers when they open.

As recovery continues, The Salvation Army canteens will be out in the neighborhoods with hydration, sandwiches, snacks and cleanup kits for victims who are in need. We will continue to feed recovery workers and first responders working in the affected neighborhoods.

Any donations are appreciated. Donations can be made online at www.SalvationArmyShreveport, on The Shreveport-Bossier Salvation Army Facebook page or on any mobile device by texting 51555 and messaging STORM. All online and mobile donations are received locally.
Disaster services from The Salvation Army are free. All people are served equally, without discrimination. Salvation Army disaster relief services are funded entirely through the generosity of donors. You can help The Salvation Army help your neighbors. Whether it’s disasters of the heart or natural disasters, The Salvation Army provides year-round services to meet human needs.

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/shreveport.

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

 

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.”