Kindly Marching ForwardDec 01, 2014 03:30AM ● By Jason Huddle
We’re all familiar with the bell-ringers and red donation kettles at holiday time – having begun November 21 this year – but the Salvation Army does much for those in need in our community year-round.Programs include character-building programs for youth, such as those found in Boys & Girls Clubs; music training; community building and fellowship for adults, like weekly worship services; substance abuse recovery; and housing assistance for the elderly and those in transition. Add to those, emergency aid when disaster strikes.
The Salvation Army of Cabarrus County came to be in 1930, during the Great Depression. With its administrative offices located at 216 Patterson Avenue in Concord, the greatest need over the years has clearly become shelter for women and children. Karen Shore is regional resource development director for The Salvation Army of North and South Carolina. “In the larger Carolina cities, more than half of the residents in the emergency shelters are children. The daily request for financial assistance with utilities is also indicative of the constant struggle throughout the community for people to remain in their homes,” she says.
According to The Salvation Army’s 2013 Impact Report, 21,244 people in Cabarrus County were aided in some capacity last year. One-hundred thirty families were provided housing assistance, 9,648 garments were given out, 5,499 grocery requests were fulfilled, 481 families received help with their utility bills, 35,483 gifts were disbursed and 8,491 individuals were given emergency shelter…the list goes on.
The Cabarrus County Salvation Army emergency shelter – formerly run by Cooperative Christian Ministries – currently accommodates 16 men, eight women and two families – the only one in the county – as well as a full-time soup kitchen program. “(Shelter) residents are provided two meals each day, clothing, counseling to assist them in finding jobs and establishing stability. The goal is to move people in the direction of transitional and permanent housing,” Shore explains.
C.J., a single mother of three from Concord, is one of those individuals. A family medical emergency took place several months ago forcing C.J to be out of work, which resulted in a reduction of income. In need of financial assistance, she initially contacted the Department of Social Services and they referred her to The Salvation Army. C.J. was provided food, clothing, personal hygiene items and household financial assistance to get her through the emergency situation that she faced.
“Without The Salvation Army,” C.J. says, “many families would go without their basic needs on a daily basis. Sometimes when you enter agencies seeking assistance, the manner in which you are treated will determine how much that organization cares. The response that I received from The Salvation Army was genuine and I was guided through the process of support. I referred another single mother because of the way that I was treated and she had the same positive experience.”
“When offering crisis assistance, each personal situation is different,” Shore adds. “Caseworkers strive to determine the root cause of the crisis and counsel to the whole person, including physical, mental and spiritual. The Christmas season always heightens the activity for The Salvation Army and most folks recognize the brand through the kettles, community volunteers and bell ringing. Clients reach out for Christmas assistance with the mindset of providing a positive experience for their children despite the vulnerable situation they may be facing.”
To that end, an application process is in place; The Salvation Army expects to bring Christmas to 1,000 to 1,200 children and nearly 300 families this year. Most folks in the community are aware of the Angel Tree program, with trees having been set up at Concord Mills Mall, Carolina Mall and area Hendrick Auto Mall locations on November 21. Each tree is filled with the names of babies/children up to 14 years of age. Adopting a child means providing them with much-appreciated clothing and toys. Christmas gift distribution will take place at Barber-Scotia College on December 19.
It takes a village to offset the cost of Cabarrus Salvation Army programs and operations. In 2013, expenses totaled more than $1.14 million; however, between the Family Store located at 2910 Cloverleaf Parkway inKannapolis, contributions, fundraising events and grants, the organization actually ended 2013 with $57,056 in excess revenue. That’s great news for a nonprofit always faced with multiple needs.
While Cabarrus County’s Salvation Army was/is clearly successful, an exciting change took place in September.
Each Salvation Army location is run by Corp officers – an individual or a married couple. Their role is to lead their employees, volunteers and what they call soldiers: those who attend Salvation Army church services on a regular basis. After 36 years with the Salvation Army, majors Jerry and Betty Lyles retired from their positions in Concord. Stepping up to the challenge are majors Johnny and Rebekah Poole. Having been part of the Salvation Army since 1985 and “ordained” in 1996, the couple came to Concord from assignments in San Antonio and Atlanta. Besides the soup kitchen’s recent transference from Cooperative Christian Ministries to The Salvation Army, the Pooles are expanding church programs, like youth and adult meetings. They also plan on being a very visible presence in the county.
As for C.J., her financial situation has stabilized and, emotionally/spiritually, she is much healthier today.
“Whether it is a bed in a shelter, help moving out of homelessness and into a home, mentoring children and teens, Christmas gifts for a needy child, disaster relief or substance abuse recovery,” Shore says, “the tools we provide do not come from the hardware store. Our tools come from the heart and the desire to ‘do the most good.’ ”