Reclaim: A Gathering of Young Adults

The Salvation Army ALM Youth Department hosted a weekend of fun and faith with its Reclaim: A Gathering of Young Adults. The Reclaim weekend retreat took place at Camp Hidden Lake, October 23-25, 2020. The young adult’s retreat is an annual summer event but was pushed into late 2020 due to the novel coronavirus. Young adults ages 18-35 spent the weekend with Salvation Army officers, reclaiming their purpose amid the hardships of 2020 and looking to the future. The retreat had a 40 person max to enforce social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions.

“The theme is “reclaim,” as in reclaiming everything we feel has been stolen from us this year. COVID-19 created many limitations, and we’re trying to get into the mindset of reclaiming our peace, joy, and security. That’s why we’re doing recycled woodwork projects and reclaiming my finances courses during the retreat,” stated Captain Michael Good, Divisional Youth Secretary.

The retreat was designed around this Bible verse:

“God, your God, will restore everything you lost; He’ll have compassion on you; He’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there.” – Deuteronomy 30:3-4


“COVID-19 delayed this year’s retreat, so we decided to host one with a Halloween theme to reengage the young adults and get them back into the swing of being hands-on at their corps,” shared Captain Malaika Good, Divisional Youth Secretary.

“The retreat is a way to engage young adults who grew up in The Salvation Army as well as inform 730 members on how to become officers,” Captain MalaikaGood added.

730 is a group of people that have shown interest in becoming a Salvation Army officer. It takes 730 days to train to become an officer, hence the name of the program.

The retreat was filled with fall festivities, including a fire pit praise, reclaimed woodworking, DIY pumpkin spice lattes, and a murder mystery dinner. The woodworking class was a lesson on finding beauty in unlikely places by taking the time to make something new out of something old. “Reclaiming My Finances” was a course offered to help young adults understand how to create financial stability in today’s economy. “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice” was a course offered at camp where young adults could carve pumpkins, enjoy a mug of coffee or hot apple cider, and discuss the steps to becoming a Salvation Army officer. The retreat ended with the murder mystery dinner, a fun game night where participants wore their best Halloween costumes and enjoyed a meal with friends; just another way of reclaiming peace amid the unparalleled year that is 2020.





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.