Pathway of Hope offers Roanoke Valley families route to stability The Salvation Army program focuses on helping families to become self-sufficient

Pathway of Hope offers Roanoke Valley families route to stability

ROANOKE, Va. – A program at the Salvation Army works to help local families in need. It’s called the Pathway of Hope and it helps families break the cycle of poverty.

The program is for people who are working but aren’t making enough money to support themselves and their families. They must have at least one child and live in Roanoke City or Roanoke County.

Deborah Cobourn, the case manager for the program, says it started with a simple question – why did the Salvation Army keep seeing some of the same people coming in for help?

She says by offering a temporary fix over and over, the Salvation Army didn’t feel like it was really addressing underlying problems. Pathway of Hope’s goal is to address the issues and create targeted solutions. Those involved in the program are put on a path to self-sufficiency and stability.

Cobourn says by making these changes within the family, it’s not just the parents who benefit but the children as well.

“We’re trying to make generational changes here,” Cobourn says. “It’s the ripple effect, that what we do will echo into their lives and it is very powerful. They see everything their parents do and to see somebody come in and say, ‘This can be different.’ That is a huge inspiration to them. They’re always going to carry that with them.”

Pathway of Hope is able to team up with other community organizations to help find the best solution for each family’s need and offer intense one-on-one case management for about 15 families at a time.

Once enrolled, one of the first steps for participants is to figure out the underlying cause of poverty for their situation. It may be situational, by death, divorce or desertion, or it may be intergenerational with the issue of poverty going back two generation or more.

After that, they set their specific goals, determining what it’s going to take to get them from point A to point B.

Cheerilyn Chapman started the program last year and is currently taking part in a Jobs for Life course to help her find a full-time skilled working position. She says after some medical issues knocked her off the planned path, she’s working to get things back on track for her seven kids.

“They’re learning firsthand by seeing it,” says Chapman. “It’s really helpful for them to see me struggling, see me setting goals, see me doing this even at my ripe old age. They’re seeing it can happen. It makes a difference.”

She says one of her goals is to be able to give back and help other families who face similar struggles.

For more information on the Roanoke Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program, click here.

For the first time in its 131-year history, The Salvation Army Caribbean Territory will be led by Jamaicans

Jamaicans Appointed To Lead The Salvation Army For The First Time In 131 Years

For the first time in its 131-year history, The Salvation Army Caribbean Territory will be led by Jamaicans.

They are Lieutenant Colonel Devon Haughton and Lieutenant Colonel Verona Haughton who have both been promoted to the rank of Commissioner.

Devon currently serves as Chief Secretary of The Salvation Army Caribbean Territory and Verona is the Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries.

Lt. Colonel Devon Haughton has been appointed as Territorial Commander (Chief Director of the work) and Lt. Colonel Verona Haughton as Territorial President of Women’s Ministries (Chief Director of women’s movements), in the 16 countries that comprise the Caribbean Territory.

The Lt. Colonels served in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica in various appointments including corps officers (pastors), divisional leaders for Eastern & Western Jamaica Divisions and training principals, at different periods, for the territory’s training college.

Similarly, Lt. Colonel Devon has served as Secretary (Director) for Programme and Territorial Evangelist while Lt. Colonel Verona has served as Secretary (Director) for Leader Development and Secretary (Director) for Spiritual Life Development.

They have been married for 36 years and are the parents of one daughter, Tephanie Olivia.

A public installation service will be held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in St Andrew on Sunday, April 22, 2018, beginning at 3:00 p.m.
Meet Lt. Colonel Devon Haughton.

*Born in Portland and is a graduate of Portland High School.

*He entered The Salvation Army Training College in 1979 as a member of the “God’s Soldiers” session.

*He completed studies in Management with William & Catherine Booth Theological College and is now pursuing a Master of Arts Degree in Global Urban Leadership at BAKKE Graduate University in the USA.

*His active preaching and teaching ministry has been evident in several of the islands of the Caribbean.

* Lt. Colonel Devon Haughton was a delegate of the 145th Session of the International College for Officers.


Meet Lt. Colonel Verona Haughton.

*Lt. Colonel Verona Haughton (nee Henry) was born in St. Catherine but all her formative years were spent in Buff Bay, Portland.

*She entered The Salvation Army Training College in 1974 as a member of the “Overcomers” session and was a delegate at the Administrative Leadership Training Course in Australia and Training Principal’s conference in London.

*Lt. Colonel Verona holds a Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Psychology & Counselling and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Guidance and Counselling.

*She also has certificates in Supervisory Management and Public Speaking from Training and Development Services, a branch of Human Resource Development.

*She has passionately devoted time to the training and development of officers and steered the territorial training college to be recognised as an educational institution under the Independent Schools of Jamaica.

Salvation Army Continues Long-term Hurricane Response in the Caribbean

Salvation Army Continues Long-term Hurricane Response in the Caribbean

London, 24 April 2018 – The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the worst in living memory. Major damage was recorded in Mexico and central America, and across the southern states of the USA, but perhaps the most significant devastation was seen on some of the Caribbean islands. The Salvation Army’s Caribbean, Latin America North and USA Eastern Territories, utilising staff and officers from corps (Salvation Army churches) across the region, was on the scene immediately, providing emergency help and aid to those in the greatest need. More than six months later, the response continues.

On the morning of 6 September 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the northern Caribbean. Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Sint Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and St Kitts and Nevis were badly affected and Barbuda was rendered uninhabitable, with most of the population being evacuated for their safety. Hurricane Irma was swiftly followed by Maria, the 10th-strongest hurricane in recorded history, which made landfall in Puerto, Turk and Caicos, and Dominica – where at least 80 per cent of the population was affected.

As the clouds began to clear, the severity of the situation was exposed to the world and The Salvation Army responded with numerous projects, providing food, shelter, non-food items (NFIs), mattresses and beds, and putting in place livelihood recovery programmes.

Working with local governments across the Caribbean, the neediest people were selected as initial beneficiaries for projects made possible by donations from the USA-based Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) and Salvation Army offices in Canada, The Netherlands, Norway and the USA Eastern Territory. Non-Salvation Army donors included EO Metterdaad and Coca-Cola.

Experienced responders were also sent to the region on behalf of The Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services team, based in London. They provided expert assistance to local Salvation Army teams and reported back on some of the life-saving projects they witnessed.

One story that the team said was particularly memorable is that of a man known as Mr Louis, a retired 69-year-old who has lived on Dutch-speaking Sint Maarten since birth. As a child, he experienced Hurricane Donna, a category 5 storm that hit Sint Maarten in 1960, but he told Salvation Army workers that he had never seen anything like Hurricane Irma.

On the night of 5 September, Mr Louis went to bed as usual, only to be woken up in the middle of the night by severe winds and rain hammering his house. Frightened, he huddled with his wife and daughter in the living room, only for the roof of his home to be crushed by a fridge that had been thrown through the air by the storm. The family sought shelter from the rain in their car but, when they saw other cars and even sea containers being lifted and thrown around by the strong winds, they moved to their cellar. They stayed there until the hurricane had passed the island the next day.

Coming out of their shelter, they witnessed absolute devastation. The hurricane had caused major damage to their house – the porch was completely ripped away, windows were broken, doors were gone, the roof was crushed and most of their furniture would be impossible to save due to extreme water damage.

Conducting assessment visits to the Cole Bay area of Sint Maarten, where Mr Louis’s family has lived for more than 100 years, The Salvation Army identified him as a beneficiary of the shelter rebuilding programme. The damage was assessed and Mr Louis was provided with materials to rebuild his home, including hurricane straps that will make his new roof hurricane proof.

Mr Louis was helped to rebuild his house by his neighbours, supported by the Salvation Army team in Sint Maarten. He says that it will take years for Sint Maarten to recover from this devastating disaster, but he feels blessed with the support provided by The Salvation Army. He feels confident that, now the repairs to his house have been completed – especially the new roof – he will be able to protect his family from the hurricanes that he knows will continue to sweep across the Caribbean every year.

The Sint Maarten rebuilding programme is just one of a number of Salvation Army projects still under way across the Caribbean. On Turks and Caicos, for instance, children are being provided with school lunches and uniforms to help them to continue their education. Beds and bedding have been provided on the Bahamas, rebuilding programmes are under way on Dominica and on Barbuda, where households have been provided with basic provisions to see them through the short term and fishermen and a fisherwoman have received new boats and equipment to start replacing everything that was lost when Hurricane Irma struck. The response on St Kitts and Nevis includes providing assistance to the people who lost their homes.

Already, the people of the Caribbean are looking ahead to the 2018 hurricane season and wondering how they will be affected. The Salvation Army is committed to sustainable projects that bolster and enrich communities, enabling people to recover in the short term but also to be better prepared when, not if, the next hurricane arrives – maybe not this year or next year, but at some point in the near future.

  • Donations to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts across the Caribbean region can be made securely online at 

From reports by Maike Bennema and Samuel Shearer
International Emergency Services

Photos of the rebuilding work on Sint Maarten can be downloaded from the IHQ Flickr stream:

The Salvation Army provided 457 nights of shelter to 13 families and seven single people. Seven households found permanent housing.

New approach for Salvation Army to help with homelessness issues

KANKAKEE — “We’ve got almost two pages of notebook paper where my wife and I have written down phone numbers. I’ve highlighted in certain colors, so we know which landlords we’ve called, which ones we’ve talked to, where we’ve left messages.”

“And the one that you like, I got a call from them today.”

In the downtown Kankakee offices of The Salvation Army, Pam Curtis is house-searching. Curtis, 29, has been homeless for a little over a year, sleeping outside, in abandoned buildings and intermittently at The Salvation Army women’s shelter. Now she’s participating in the new rapid re-housing program, using The Salvation Army’s resources to find a permanent place to stay.

When the men’s shelter closed in July and the women’s shelter followed soon after, there was concern that people like Curtis would be left in the cold.

“Part of the challenge is that we need to get the message out,” said Salvation Army Maj. Nic Montgomery, who runs the Kankakee Salvation Army with his wife, Jodi. “We are not closed. We are open, and we’re serving.”

Now The Salvation Army wants to inform the public of its new plan, which involves a new approach to homelessness passed down from the federal government to social services organizations across the country.

Getting a feel for ‘housing first’

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development now recommends a “housing first” approach to homelessness. Housing first reverses the traditional approach to helping the homeless. Instead of moving someone through the system — first to a shelter, then maybe to supportive living before finally finding permanent housing — housing first prioritizes permanent housing over other interventions.

“There were studies done that show on-site housing is not the answer; and that’s why HUD has changed its focus, because putting someone in shelter for 30, 60, 90 days, we didn’t do anything,” said Jodi Montgomery. “We just let someone stay there and then told them to go be homeless somewhere else.”

Accordingly, HUD has moved away from shelter programs. The Salvation Army practices rapid re-housing, a subset of housing first that, according to HUD, “connects families and individuals experiencing homelessness to permanent housing through a tailored package of assistance that may include the use of time-limited financial assistance and targeted supportive services.”

Research backs up the new approach. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, between 75 and 91 percent of households that go through a rapid re-housing program remain housed a year later. A study of 6,000 rapidly re-housed people in Michigan showed that two years after receiving assistance, only 6.5 percent of people returned to homelessness, the majority of which were single men and not families.

That’s why Curtis, her wife of seven years, and their daughter are on the hunt for a new place. They’ve partnered with Natasha Elliott, director of social ministries, who is currently the only caseworker for rapid re-housing.

“Even though the shelter is closed, they’re indirectly providing shelter for everybody,” said Curtis. “Even though they don’t have the shelter upstairs, at the same time the people who were upstairs and are now out there, they’re doing their best to get us off the streets. Unfortunately they had to send us back out there. Now they’re trying to get everything wrapped up and together so (Elliott) can turn around and get everyone back she already helped.”

When someone calls The Salvation Army for assistance, they’re evaluated for vulnerability. Those who are determined to be “literally homeless” (sleeping in places not designed for human habitation) are given a shelter-voucher, which they use to stay in a local motel during the housing search process. The goal is to transition people out of the motels in a timely fashion, while helping them with the housing search and connecting them with services like employment assistance and mental health counseling.

No shortage of need

 In November alone, The Salvation Army provided 457 nights of shelter to 13 families and seven single people. Seven households found permanent housing. An annual “point in time” count of homeless people in Kankakee this past January found 38 people sleeping on the streets and another 53 were being sheltered through an agency.

“We try to figure out a few things,” Elliott said of the housing search. “First, the size of the unit that they want, if the household has a lot of income or only a little income, what’s a good rent amount for the family. Then on my own I look for different landlords who are willing to work with us, and they also look for landlords.”

Charitable organizations, social service providers, and local schools and hospitals coordinate through the local Continuum of Care, a group that meets monthly with the goal of reducing homelessness and supporting vulnerable community members. The move toward a housing-first model has been a challenge for the group.

“It’s somewhat imposed upon us. I don’t know that anybody decided this is how we wanted to run our programs,” said Sarah Neil, chairperson of the COC and director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet. “It’s definitely a shift in funding priorities. A lot of times programs have to follow the funding and go where the money is.”

Funding has been a concern for The Salvation Army specifically. United Way of Kankakee, which had been funding a large percentage of shelter operations, ended that support in December after the shelters closed.

The Salvation Army in Chicago, USA, is making an impact on inmates in a city jail by helping fathers build better relationships with their children and co-parents.

Army’s fatherhood program now offered to inmates in the US

The Salvation Army in Chicago, USA, is making an impact on inmates in a city jail by helping fathers build better relationships with their children and co-parents.

The Fatherhood in Action program was recently introduced to the Cook County Jail, the largest single-site jail in the US, dealing with issues related to building family relationships during and after release.

The program is completely voluntary and open to most inmates. Twice a week during an eight-week session, the men meet with their peer group and two facilitators to focus on responsible parenting, healthy relationships, financial education, and wellness.

According to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office, the program is making a difference in the lives of their inmates.

“This program is so impactful because the men know we care,” said Janet De La Torre, Communications Liaison in the Policy and Communications department. “Most of them feel nobody has taken an interest in them before.”

At one meeting, men in the group discussed milestones and road maps for their lives. They identified the times and situations that have impacted them so far. This could include vacations, birthdays, school detentions, deaths, and more. They then drew these points on their maps and shared them.

“We are looking over our past so we can learn from our experiences and identify patterns,” said Derrick White, facilitator of the Fatherhood in Action program (pictured below).

“Does anything need to be changed to make it safe for your children? You need to take your past pain and transform it – make it a stepping stone to a better future.”

The non-judgmental atmosphere allows the men to look at their lives, and how their choices affect their children and the relationship with the family. For many of them, they’re learning for the first time how to be adults and parents.

“I’m working on being patient,” said inmate Lucas Kardon, who has a five-year-old son. “When you have a little kid, you have to listen too.”

Another inmate, Darryl Paige, has three young children and he’s working on being a leader. “My kids watch me. I have to set an example for them. I have to be supportive and understanding. I don’t want them to end up here.”

The program has been so successful that Sheriff Dart has requested several more sessions.

The program has already been introduced in other facilities in the Chicago area, including the Harbor Light Center, the Adult Rehabilitation Centers, and the Pathway Forward community-based corrections program.

I heard the gospel because a Salvation Army corps sergeant-major kept his promise.

Solidier On

I heard the gospel because a Salvation Army corps sergeant-major kept his promise. I started drinking on weekends when I was 12. A few years later, it was several times a week. Then it became daily. By the time I was 30, I was smoking three packs of cigarettes and drinking a bottle of vodka every day.

I had always promised my kids I would stay sober on Christmas Day. But in 1983, just before my 38th birthday, I didn’t. I got to thinking if I couldn’t stay sober one day a year, maybe I had a problem.

When a friend suggested I go to church with him, I said no. I’d never been in a church, other than for weddings and funerals. But I said I would maybe go to The Salvation Army. He asked the corps sergeant-major at Lloydminster Corps, Alta., Elmo King, to call me. I told Elmo if he was standing on the street when I drove by on Sunday, I’d come in.

He was there. That morning, I heard the gospel for the first time in my life.

After the meeting, Elmo invited me out for lunch. Why not?—a free meal, I thought. He told me all about Christ and asked if I wanted to accept him into my heart. I said no.

But I kept thinking about what he’d said. Later that afternoon, a feeling came over me. I went into my bedroom and prayed. Jesus, if you are who Elmo says you are, and if you can do what he says, then come into my heart and take over my life, because I can’t do it anymore.

At 3 p.m. on January 15, 1984, I became a Christian. That night, I went to the evening meeting and publicly accepted Christ during the altar call.

“Jesus,” I prayed, “come into my heart and take over my life, because I can’t do it anymore.”

I never had another drink, and quit smoking the next week. Three months later, I became a senior soldier.

When I retired after 30 years as a truck driver, I went into full-time service for the Army, working as an envoy in Nelson, B.C., until my health declined. I’ve had eight heart attacks.

In 2004, after my fifth heart attack, doctors gave me a five per cent chance of surviving open-heart surgery. But we prayed and I came through.

As a volunteer with emergency and disaster services, I was called to go to Calgary to help after the floods, but found out I couldn’t work in a crisis response unit while on oxygen. If God wants me to go, he can do something about it, I thought. I’d been on oxygen for six years, but on the way to Calgary, I took it off, and haven’t needed it since then. I believe God healed me so I could do his will.

I’ve been a volunteer with our community care ministries here in Swift Current, Sask., for the past 14 years, and I try to support our officers in any way I can.

My relationship with Christ has grown over time. When someone asks me about my faith, I tell them my story, and to give God a try—they won’t be sorry.

The Virtues of Volunteerism – We are a Volunteer Army

At the height of Victorian England’s volunteer movement in 1878, William Booth dictated a letter to George Scott Railton, his secretary. When Booth said, “We are a volunteer army,” Bramwell, Booth’s son, responded, “Volunteer? I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” William Booth then instructed Railton to delete the word volunteer and substitute it with the word salvation. Thus, “The Salvation Army” name was born.

Today, the Army’s “regulars” are called “officers” (pastors). They wear iconic blue uniforms with star–studded epaulettes on their shoulders.


However, behind every officer are faithful, hardworking volunteers. Often referred to as “The Army Behind the Army,” volunteers play a crucial role in the Army’s ability to provide quality social services for entire communities.

Volunteers are valuable assets in the Army’s effort to meet the world’s changing needs. Through their skills and experience, they make significant contributions by positively influencing lives. Such volunteers uplift families and communities.

One of the Army’s most memorable volunteer movements occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They came from far and wide and lined up by the hundreds, seeking an opportunity to put their time, energy, and resources toward rebuilding the American morale and spirit.

The following examples illustrate how, for many of these volunteers, their patriotism proved life–changing.


During a dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, images flashed on a massive screen in a great subterranean hall showing men and women at work at Ground Zero’s “Taj Mahal” (the Salvation Army tent so named by the workers).

Also pictured were Army volunteers, writing prayers on battered beams of steel, counseling survivors, offering water, sandwiches, coffee, and words of comfort. Bright red Salvation Army shields affixed to white windbreaker jackets and construction worker hardhats clearly distinguished them.

Just a few days prior to the actual dedication ceremony, hundreds of Salvation Army volunteers previewed the museum in response to a letter of invitation extended to them by the Museum Foundation via the Greater New York Division.

Kelly–Jane Cotter from central New Jersey, reflected on her visit to the museum. “One of the artifacts I most appreciated seeing was the Ground Zero Cross,” she wrote in, “which I vividly remembered from my time as a volunteer with The Salvation Army. Yet while visiting the museum, I walked right past the 17–foot crossbeam. My mind was reeling, my eyes were filled with tears, and I simply couldn’t see it until I noticed some firefighters aiming their cameras upward.”

Tanya Hoggard, a Cincinnati–based flight attendant, had rearranged her schedule to volunteer with The Salvation Army. She came to realize that children from around the country wanted their messages of thanks and hope to reach the firefighters and rescue workers at Ground Zero.

Through friendships forged with firefighters who visited the Taj Mahal for coffee, conversation, and snacks, Hoggard learned that firehouses throughout New York City were receiving mail bags containing warm wishes from children—sometimes attached to stuffed animals, candy, murals, flags, and quilts. These expressions of love and gratitude proved overwhelming.

Hoggard thought, Why don’t I collect and safeguard these touching expressions? With permission, she archived the materials. Her resulting “Dear Hero Collection” is now on display at the museum.

For Sam Potter, Oklahoma’s disaster relief director, the preview day was an emotional one. He had spent a total of 39 days in Lower Manhattan, providing relief in the wake of the attacks. At that time, disaster relief chaplaincy was in its infancy and was yet to be organized nationally. However, the Oklahoma team carried with them the experiences of ministering to people devastated by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

“I think the biggest thing about the museum is that it truly tells the whole story of what happened that 9/11,” Porter wrote for “,” an online newspaper.

Jennifer Adams–Webb volunteered in the aftermath of 9/11 for The Salvation Army. She had worked in World Trade Tower One for several years prior to the attack. Today, she is chief executive officer of the September 11th Families’ Association and co–founder of the 9/11 Tribute Center.

Jim Daly, another volunteer, had watched on TV and in horror as the World Trade Center’s twin towers fell.

This parishioner of St. John in Little Canada continues to reflect on time spent as a volunteer at Ground Zero in January 2002. His thoughts are expressed in articles written about him in publications and periodicals.

After answering the Army’s call for volunteers, Daly found himself at Ground Zero staring into “the pit,” a hole the size of a football field, where construction workers, police officers, and firefighters continued to unearth human remains four months after the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

When asked by a reporter how the experience affected him, Daly paused for a moment, then said, “I have an appreciation for every day when I watch the sun come up. I think [the experience] probably just strengthened that.”

Salvation Army Provides Meals for Students During Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

Salvation Army Provides Meals for Students During Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 3, 2018) As many school districts across Oklahoma closed on Monday, and again today, due to a Statewide Teacher Walkout, The Salvation Army was requested by many school boards, other agencies and nonprofits in several communities to ensure students did not go without meals while school is cancelled.   One in four Oklahoma children are food insecure and rely on the Free and Reduced Breakfast and Lunch program offered at most public schools.

Salvation Army locations in Bartlesville, Chickasha, Enid, Lawton, Muskogee, Oklahoma City, Shawnee, Stillwater and Tulsa are all involved in assisting students while schools are closed. The Chickasha Salvation Army is partnering with First Baptist Church to provide a safe place to go during the day as well as providing breakfast, lunch and snacks.  The Muskogee Salvation Army has sandwiches available for students who are not in school due to the walkout. Stillwater is shuttling students currently registered in their after-school program for lunch to ensure they receive a meal during the day.

The Tulsa Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Clubs has six locations across the Tulsa metropolitan area.  The Clubs are open to members and accepting walk-in students as a safe place for area children and youth while schools are closed.  They are partnering with Tulsa Public Schools to provide breakfast and lunch while The Salvation Army is providing daily snacks, and activities such as crafts, board games, basketball and more.  Captain Ken Chapman, Area Commander for the Metro Tulsa Area Command, states “While not taking political sides with the issues, we are responding to the needs of parents and children who need a safe haven and nutritious meals.  Our resources are stretched, but God will provide!  We are in this for the duration.  If the families need us, we will be here.”

The Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Clubs in Lawton, Oklahoma City and Shawnee have also opened their doors to students who need a place to stay and nutritious meals and snacks.   Shawnee is providing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and is available to current members of the Boys and Girls Club as well as non-members.  Oklahoma City and Lawton are also providing alternative options for students during the day as well as meals and snacks.

In some areas, such as Bartlesville and Enid, The Salvation Army is utilizing Emergency Disaster Services resources.   Canteens (mobile feeding units) are providing lunch to students affected by the walkout at pre-determined sites.

The activity center is being built on the grounds of The Salvation Army’s Kaiser Emergency Family Shelter in Phoenix, a 23-room facility with a capacity of 118 beds

Salvation Army breaks ground on Phoenix activity center

The Salvation Army Metro Phoenix broke ground March 31 on the Mike Michaels Activity Center, named in honor of the late Mike Michaels, Valley resident and longtime supporter of The Salvation Army.

Michaels’ daughter Barbara Anderson and son Chuck Michaels were on hand with their families to put ceremonial shovels into the ground with Salvation Army officers. The two-story activity center is targeted for completion in November.

“I only wish my father was here to see this come to be and see all of people it will help,” Chuck Michaels said.

Before his passing in 2015, Mike Michaels—who worked as a financial advisor in the Valley for more than two decades—donated often to The Salvation Army, and he told his children of his intentions to leave the bulk of his estate to charity. The daughter and son have honored their father’s wishes by supporting such programs as The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers and Kroc Center scholarships.

The Mike Michaels Activity Center will continue that legacy with a model of “Recreate to Re-create,” designed to restore normalcy to families by providing opportunities for them to learn and heal through play, as well as address families’ short and long term housing and economic self-sufficiency goals.

“In recent years, a growing number of noted mental health professionals have observed that play is as important to human happiness and well-being as love and work,” said Major Barbara Sloan, Executive Director of The Salvation Army Phoenix Family Services. “Research supports the effectiveness of recreation therapy, especially with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral and learning problems.”

The activity center is being built on the grounds of The Salvation Army’s Kaiser Emergency Family Shelter in Phoenix, a 23-room facility with a capacity of 118 beds and 15 cribs for its residents. Over 500 people were provided shelter at the facility this past fiscal year.

Their goal? Camp Appalachia, a residential camp for kids affected by the opioid epidemic and children who are in foster care.

Former Salvation Army Summer Camp Site Continues Doing The Most Good

Jared Davis wants to teach children affected by the opioid epidemic a “new normal.”

As a firefighter and an emergency medical technician with the Teays Valley Fire Department, he’s seen first-hand just how treacherous the opioid epidemic can be. He’s also worked with the Tri-County YMCA’s summer camp for several years, and through both of those opportunities he’s come to recognize a need.

“There’s a distinct need in our community that focuses on prevention. A lot of the opioid crisis focus is on treatment for people who are affected,” he said. “Prevention, it’s going to start with the kids who are directly affected by it.”

It’s a generations-long cycle of poverty and drug abuse, he said, and if something isn’t done to intervene — it’s likely going to continue.

“When a kid is born into a particular situation, they’re going to see that as normal,” he said. “When their family does drugs, doesn’t work and isn’t functional, the kid is simply going to grow up and follow in those footsteps.”

“It’s not a kid’s fault to grow up and become what their home situation is if no one has ever taken the time to show them a better way,” he said.

And that’s exactly what he and others at his church, Church at the Depot, feel called to do: Show kids a better way.

The church purchased the former Salvation Army Camp Happy Valley property in February, which had been on the market since 2016, according to a previous Gazette-Mail report. It has sat vacant for two years, Davis said.

Camp Happy Valley was last open during the summer of 2014 as a day camp. The camp is located in the Scott Depot area of Putnam County on the former Fletcher Farm that was purchased in 1967.

Church at the Depot purchased the property for $535,000, according to online property transfer documents.

Their goal? Camp Appalachia, a residential camp for kids affected by the opioid epidemic and children who are in foster care.

Camp Appalachia is a more than 150-acre camp, complete with a rock wall, a ropes course, a pool and more. The goal of the camp will be to teach children resiliency skills, using a strengths-based model.

Rather than focusing on “what is wrong and how to fix their problems,” Davis said the strengths-based model helps teach kids to overcome their situations by investing in what their strengths are as a unique individual.

“When a kid can come to summer camp for prevention — maybe it’s a kid who is not very athletic and doesn’t think they can achieve on the rock wall. When you build that child up, and you help them up the rock wall … when they see something that’s hard and they didn’t think they could accomplish it — and they accomplish it — that’s going to build their resiliency,” he said.

“Instill in them the belief that they can be better. We can’t necessarily fix the kid’s situation, but we can change his or her outlook on the situation. So, when they go back to a home that is not suitable, so to speak, they have the emotional fortitude and the resiliency to be able to overcome their family situation. Maybe they can look back on the counselor who spent extra time with them, or showed them that they cared.”

Camp Appalachia has partnered with West Virginia State University, Davis’ alma mater, to provide outdoor education for campers. Using his connections with first responders in Putnam County, Davis said Camp Appalachia will invite firefighters, EMTs and police officers to come hang out and participate in camp activities with children to show them a different viewpoint.

“They might view those folks as the people who took Mom or Dad away,” he said.

Davis said the church also hopes to prevent summer learning loss in its campers.

For example, he said, a student who just completed fourth grade on a fourth-grade reading level may spend the entire summer “in survival mode” at home with their families.

“So what happens, a lot of those times, is they go to fifth grade back down on a third-grade level,” he said.

The church will plan on spreading the gospel to campers, but it’s not a typical church camp, Davis said.

Most importantly, he said he wants to campers to see themselves “the way the Lord sees them, which is loved and cared for.”

The church hopes to offer the camp at a low or no cost to children but knows it will be a large undertaking. He also plans to partner with local foster care agencies and the Angel tree program to send kids in need to camp for free or at a low cost.

“We want to reteach that normal. A lot of these kids are not exposed to functional adults who contribute to society well, who maintain jobs and stable households,” he said. “We want to help them identify strengths within themselves. Not many have an adult saying, ‘Hey, you’re good at this, or you’re good at that.’”

Because the property has sat vacant for a few years, Davis said there is still a lot of work to be done before opening it in some capacity this summer. Davis said the church hopes to open the camp as a day camp this summer but has longer-term goals of a residential camp.