Martinsville shelter helps warm a former teacher's heart on cold nights. When the weather is a bit warmer than the nearly single-digit temperatures

Martinsville shelter helps warm a former teacher’s heart on cold nights

When the weather is a bit warmer than the nearly single-digit temperatures that chattered teeth this week, Phillip Ian Whipp said he likes to sleep in his car, a “tiny” 2013 Fiat 500.

Fortunately, he also could find comfort at his other preferred resting place, the overnight warming shelter in the Salvation Army building on South Memorial Boulevard.

The shelter accommodates up to 20 people with a place to sleep, meals, beverages, clothing and other items, from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week on days when the temperature is forecast to be 32 degrees or lower.

Thursday morning was supposed to dip to 12 degrees, with chill factors making the air colder.

During that snap the shelter has remained open during the days, so guests “don’t have to leave in the morning,” Lt. Ruby Keith said. The center will remain open through Saturday night and will close on Sunday, because low temperatures are expected to be about 40 degrees. The shelter has been open about 15 nights this year.

Typically about five to seven guests visit the shelter — mostly men but sometimes women and children, too — where they sleep on cots in a 30-by-15-foot room called a fellowship hall. The women and families are housed in separate space down a hallway.

Whipp, 58, estimated on a recent snowy night that he has stayed at the shelter about 20 nights since he first visited last year, when emotional problems led to eviction from the apartment where he was living next to “noisy neighbors” who left him unable to relax.

“I got behind with the rent, and they kicked me out, which has been the best thing ever,” he said.

He said he went to Piedmont Community Services, which sent him to a local psychiatric ward, where he spent several nights last January. “I was chronic depressive with suicidal tendencies. I couldn’t see a way forward,” he said.

But with that help hose mental health issue are under control, he said.

“It’s medicated,” he said, “plus the fact I now have absolutely the best neighbors in the world” – referring to nights when he sleeps in his car – “where I park I’m surrounded by wildlife, and no one bothers me.”

And the other nights, he’s at the warming shelter, a place he loves.

“This place is heaven … absolute heaven,” he said. “They feed you. They provide you with this jacket … boots, underwear, socks. “They have cots for everybody. I, by choice, sleep on the floor (the shelter provides him a pile of blankets and a couple of pillows).”

He said he likes the camaraderie among the regulars who stay at the shelter. They talk and can watch television and play checkers. And he praises the managers and volunteers who take care of the guests.

He called volunteer Sarah Sacra “an angel” and said “she’s got a heart of gold.”

“I make fresh coffee and fetch drinks, serve the hot meals, clean up, run the dishwasher,” said Sacra, who smiled as she chatted with Whipp while making him a grilled-cheese sandwich.

She also makes sure clients don’t need anything for that day, such as clothing items and toiletries, and asks them if they need to talk to a minister or someone else about private issues.

Sacra said the shelter is not just for homeless people.

“You could have just lost your power, and it’s cold, and you need heat,” she said. “Sometimes this is transitional. It’s a pit stop. It’s not the end. It could very well be me sitting at the table.”

Whipp said he works part time as a sales associate for a local company, earning about $9,000 a year. He makes payment on his Fiat and owes about $25,000 in college loans and $75,000 in medical bills.

Whipp is from Oxford, England, and has lived in the United States for 22 years, in this area since 2016. He said he is a former public school math teacher, and he said he’s looking to his future.

“This year, I’ve spent getting my head right from the ‘terrorism’ of the previous year,” he said. “Then I’m hoping to move forward. I’ve just about got things right now.

“I’m comfortable, and I’m in a great frame of mind. So I need to start weaning myself off medication. … Then I’ll be in a better position to go anywhere in the country to use my skills.”

Captain Malaika Good "An unquenchable desire for relationship and love"

Captain Malaika Good “An unquenchable desire for relationship and love”

I was born and raised in a Muslim family in Roanoke, Virginia. We worshiped at the mosque, wore our head coverings, prayed five times a day, stayed away from pork, and practiced the religion in all its entirety. And yet, it was just that, religion.

My father was in and out of prison most of my life, and my mother worked multiple jobs to keep us afloat. Because of this, an unquenchable desire for relationship and love grew within me.

When I was eight, my cousins invited me to go skating at a “community center” in Roanoke. My mom, excited for a babysitting service, allowed my sister and me to attend, and thus started my introduction to The Salvation Army. There, my desire for love and acceptance started to be fulfilled as officers and local leaders began to pour into me and teach me the gospel truth.

For years, my parents allowed me to attend this “community center,” not realizing that through this, I met the One and Only true God.

I quickly became a Sunbeam, Junior Soldier, active in the music programs, and attended faithfully any program and event I could. I went to Camp Happyland every summer and attended youth councils and TYI. My relationship with the Lord grew, and my desire to give Him all of Malaika grew with it. With every new officer, I felt the love and acceptance that I had so desperately craved from living in a single mother household.

Through all of this, my mother became aware of my conversion and relationship with Christ, but my father, still a practicing Muslim, was not in the know.

One Sunday, my corps officer, Captain Tabitha Roberts, asked me if I had given any thought to officership. This idea was completely foreign to me, yet was so very close to who I was. My desire in life was to be loved, be known and have relationships, and here was an offer to bring about the very change I had so desperately craved as a young girl. I knew, in that moment, this was the calling God had placed on my life.

There were many obstacles to get to the point of Salvation Army officership – my father, my age, issues within my family. Yet with every obstacle, the God who called me was faithful and settled every problem. Through God’s grace, I was able to be completely open with my father, who unexpectedly supported and encouraged me.

I attended Evangeline Booth College in 2011 at the age of 18 and was commissioned with the Friends of Christ session. Every day, I have the privilege to bring about holy change in the lives of those I encounter, the same change officers helped ignite in me as an 8-year-old Muslim girl from a single mother household.

God has called me to be a Salvation Army officer and to reach those who are like that young 8-year-old girl.

Captain Malaika Good is a corps officer in Hampton, Virginia.

Original Article Featured in The Southern Spirit Online

The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band marches in the Rose Parade for the 100th time on 1 January 2019 in Pasadena, CA.

2019 ROSE PARADE UNITES SALVATION ARMY MUSICIANS FROM EVERY CONTINENT

NEW Year’s Day 2019 marked the one hundredth occasion of a Salvation Army band marching in the world-famous Pasadena Rose Parade. This year’s event in the Southern Californian city saw record numbers of Salvation Army musicians taking part – the majority of them young people. More than 400 instrumentalists participated, from bands across the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as individual musicians from Brazil, South Africa, Jamaica and India.

The Tournament of Roses Parade travels along the city’s Colorado Boulevard, cheered on by more than one million spectators with many millions more watching live on national television. The Salvation Army is the longest-serving band that has taken part in the parade, morphing from the small Pasadena Tabernacle Corps band that first appeared in 1920 to the international gathering of musicians in 2019.

The Salvation Army Rose Parade Band is organised by the California South divisional music department, led by Bandmaster Kevin Larsson, who has served in the post for 18 years. ‘It is the world’s biggest open-air,’ he says. ‘That’s why we keep on investing into it … we’re playing “Amazing Grace” or “Stand up for Jesus” and often the name of the song is displayed on TV, so we can reach millions, millions and millions with that ministry.’

REHEARSALS

In order to rehearse for this unique event, bands started to arrive on 26 December. ‘When they get to camp they’re not going to be playing in the bands that they travelled with; they’re going to be playing mixed up [into eight international sub-bands], so we want good fellowship and meeting new people,’ explains Jacqui Larsson, California South Assistant Divisional Programme Secretary. ‘One of the main challenges we have is that the bands that participate practise for hours every morning for years to actually be in the parade, and we only have one rehearsal … We just have to expect and hope that they’ve memorised it all.’

Recently retired Chief Executive Officer of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and bandmaster at The Salvation Army’s Pasadena Tabernacle, Bill Flinn, explains that in a single block The Salvation Army band can pass up to 25,000 people. ‘The Salvation Army is one of two Christian organisations that are in the Rose Parade,’ he says. ‘The Tournament of Roses hears from many people about the enjoyment of having a Salvation Army band there, but … [from our perspective] it is probably the largest exposure that The Salvation Army has in any one given effort.’

The musical outreach continued into the new year, with the musicians staging a special concert at Tustin Ranch (California) Corps on 2 January featuring music such as ‘Let There Be Light’, ‘Lord, Lift Me Up’ and ‘The Fruit of the Spirit’, before the massed bands played ‘Auld Lang Syne’. The 350 youth band members also led worship in eight Salvation Army corps and performed at a basketball game and at a ‘bandfest’ for 10,000 people. The international group also marched through Disneyland on 3 January, beginning – appropriately – at the ‘It’s a Small World’ attraction.

Tustin Ranch corps officer Captain Nesan Kistan reflects: ‘I believe the ministry of our bands speaks to us of the healing power of our risen Saviour … releasing the power of God’s presence, which is with us always.’

Salvation Army Martinsville bell ringers just want to give back

Salvation Army Martinsville bell ringers just want to give back

The Salvation Army Martinsville Corps has helped Steven and Diane Yohn in hard times, and now they want to give back by volunteering as bell ringers.

“I don’t want to be paid. We really need volunteers,” Diane Yohn, 66, said Friday as she stood ringing a bell near one of the main entrances at Walmart in Martinsville.

At another store entrance with bell in hand was Steven, 66, seated in a walker next to a red kettle.

 “For the last few years they’ve helped us, and this is the least we can do to thank them,” he said.

This is their third year ringing a bell for the local Salvation Army branch.

“I’m always happy to help the Salvation Army. They helped me and my husband through hard times,” Diane said. “They were there for us. This is the least we could do.”

The Yohns also at times have eaten at the Salvation Army’s regular meals on multiple days of the week, she said.

“Last year, if it wasn’t for the Salvation Army, we wouldn’t have had a Christmas dinner or a Thanksgiving dinner,” Diane said.

In addition, the Salvation Army kept the Yohns’ electric power on when they couldn’t pay a nearly $300 power bill,

“It just felt great for somebody to care, as they do,” Diane said “They’re out there feeding people…. They have the angel tree that helps the children that ain’t going to have a Christmas.”

The couple knows how rough finances can be for someone living on a fixed income.

“It’s a little rough for me and my husband because you get one check a month,” Diane said Steven is a retired truck driver and she worked as an office cleaner.

Diane is borderline diabetic and has a learning disability.

Said Steven of his ailments: “I’ve had 12 heart attacks. I died 12 times and they brought me back.”

He added that he sees people in need of help and he and his wife feel the need to give back.

“God has been great to my wife and me, and now since He has been good to me, I can be good to other people,” Steven said.

Steven said he enjoys bell ringing and encountering people.

Steven described the touching moments he’s witnessed as a bell ringer, such as the time a mother gave each of her children five pennies to put in the kettle, and then she put in $5.

“Tears came to my eyes, because I see them little kids. That’s the future of the churches and the future of our country,” Steven said.

Another time recently, Steven said, it was cold and a woman came up and asked if he drank coffee. He told her yes.

She then left and, roughly 10 minutes later, returned with a double cheeseburger and a cup of coffee.

“I’ve had people in the past come up and give us doughnuts and coffee and stuff like that,” Steven said. “The (bell-ringing) locations we’ve been to, workers and management would bring us stuff,” Steven said.

Lt. George Keith of the Salvation Army Martinsville Corps said the kettle campaign goal is $60,000, and donations are lagging.

Also, more bell-ringers are needed.

“We have two weeks left of our kettle campaign,” Keith said.

Anyone interested in ringing the bell can call 276-638-7259.

On October 10, 2018, hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall in the United States, ripped through the Florida Panhandle.

Life After The Storm

On October 10, 2018, hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall in the United States, ripped through the Florida Panhandle. A violent Category 4 storm, Michael pounded Panama City, Fla., and surrounding areas. The eye was 105 kilometres wide, winds were at 225 km/h and 1,000 tornadoes peeled back the landscape of what was once known as the Emerald Coast. The result was utter devastation and an estimated loss of $414 billion. It could take 15 years for the area to return to “normal.”

“So many lives have been changed forever,” says Florida Governor Rick Scott. “So many families have lost everything. This hurricane was an absolute monster.” Tens of thousands of homes were unlivable, businesses were turned into piles of splintered lumber, and gas stations and strip malls were crumpled. Entire roofs were torn away, trees were severed in two, and the widespread and catastrophic damage made the city unrecognizable to local residents.

Three weeks after Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle, I was deployed for 14 days to Panama City with a 12-member incident management team from the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s emergency disaster services. While residents coped with destruction and devastation, we oversaw operations, communicated with media outlets and ensured the delivery of hot meals, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, tarps, and emotional and spiritual care. At the height of deployment, 20 canteens were feeding 12,000 people a day.

Perseverance

As our team’s public information officer, my role was to communicate to the public and to The Salvation Army about the state of operations and how we were supporting those affected by the storm.  As I travelled to canteen locations that were serving hot meals, delivered backpacks to children and teachers at a local school, and made home visits to check on peoples’ well-being, I heard frightening stories of riding out the storm, saw so much of what people had lost, and watched in awe as they persevered in the midst of immense destruction. But even in the midst of their pain and extreme heartache, their warmth, resilience and positivity was incredible. They had lost homes, livelihoods and their lives were literally turned upside down, yet they greeted me with friendly smiles and grateful words.

“We were seven huddled together in the bathroom―the best safe room with one door and no windows,” says Jolynn, whose home was severely damaged by the hurricane. “When we heard the wind pull up the roof and drop it down many times we thought we were going to die. We heard trees cracking. Then suddenly three quarters of the roof ripped away from the house. We were under one big skylight.”

“When the eye of the storm came through, I held tight to my husband in a hallway,” explains Sherri as she tells me about her experience with Michael. “We felt the walls of our home breathe like lungs. A 6,000-pound maple tree crashed down on the side of our house. We were trapped in our collapsing home and convinced we wouldn’t get out alive.” Sherri and her husband, Rick, are now living in their camper in the driveway in front of their destroyed home.

A Tiny Light

“What can we do?” asked Lieutenant Stefan Reid, corps officer at Vernon Community Church in the British Columbia Division and our team’s planning chief, when he stumbled upon a little white church that was only half standing. “We need food. I can’t keep going,” replied Karen, the pastor’s wife. In the three weeks since the hurricane, she and her husband, Eddie, and two volunteers, had been serving 100 people a day out of four crockpots.

“There were tarps over the building and no electricity,” Lieutenant Reid explains. “In the back of the fellowship hall, with insulation falling and wires exposed, people affected by the hurricane were getting non-perishables, simple supplies, bedding, clothing and blankets.”

Calloway is a low-income neighbourhood located nine kilometres from Panama City. Most of the 150 residents couldn’t evacuate due to lack of transportation and all were left with significant damage or mobile homes that were completely destroyed. The only shelter for many were the tarps that hung everywhere.

While our team was initially overwhelmed by the extent of destruction and the demand for services, it was a privilege to bring relief and a glimmer of hope to those we were called to serve.

“We all wanted to stay and keep giving until we couldn’t give any more,” concludes Lieutenant Reid. “The Salvation Army was a tiny light in the midst of the storm.”

Article contributed by Linda Leigh is the staff writer in the territorial public relations and development department.

After becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age, R&B artist Kem, was living homeless on the streets of Detroit. Salvation Army ARC, which he

R&B artist Kem defeats addiction with help from Salvation Army ARC

After becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age, R&B artist Kem, was living homeless on the streets of Detroit. He was going from shelter to shelter until he had his first experience with a Salvation Army ARC, which he claims as a turning point in his life.

I am the eldest child with three sisters, born in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve never met my biological father. My stepfather has been in my life since I was three years-old. When I was four we moved to the metropolitan Detroit area. First, we lived in Pontiac for about 10 years and then we moved to Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Both my parents worked, but we didn’t know our parents were struggling. We had both parents in the home, always had enough to eat and at Christmas always had presents, toys stacked to the ceiling. In many ways, we had a normal family dynamic.

We left Pontiac my freshman year of high school for Southfield—quite a culture shock. We were one of the first African American families on our street. There was a large Jewish community and there still is. I delivered papers throughout the community and became very familiar with a lot of the Jewish traditions. We went from living in a blue-collar community to a suburban lifestyle. I was really out of my element. The kids and families in Southfield had experiences that we didn’t have. They had seen more, experienced more. I was like a fish out of water.

I was also starting to come into being a teenager and a lot of things happened to me that set the stage for me to try to find solace in alcohol and drugs. What I discovered about myself later was that as a child I was probably clinically depressed. Because I lacked better coping skills I started using alcohol and drugs. Alcoholism is something that is present on both sides of my family: my mom is a recovering alcoholic. She went into treatment and my parents learned new tools and developed a healthier way of living.

I was just beginning full-blown drug and alcohol addiction. I could no longer be a part of my family dynamic, at least not in the house. They were trying to become the best versions of themselves and my behavior and addiction were impediments. So, I left home at the age of 19 and began my downward spiral into homelessness and addiction. I flopped around the neighborhood for a while, different friends’ houses. My friends would sneak me in and let me stay the night. I continued to drink and use drugs.

My first experience with the Salvation Army ARC (Adult Rehabilitation Center) was in Pontiac. I initially went to get off the streets. Any recovery would have been just a by-product, but I was eventually discharged for using. I went to the classes they had there. I would go for periods of time and not drink. But I was always using something and not fully coming to terms with my addiction or with what it would take to overcome it. I learned some things but I was not yet ready to get sober.

After that I went to the Salvation Army ARC in Detroit. I was discharged from there for drinking.I spent some time on the streets. I went back to that ARC after having spent the hardest week of homelessness. I was pretty beat up. I was sleeping outside on the Detroit River, on the eve of my biological birthday, when I surrendered. I didn’t know at that time that’s what happened. I gave up trying to do things my way. I became open to what ideas and suggestions that people had. I was willing to do whatever was necessary to facilitate change in my life.

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Wintry weather brings Christmas spirit during Red Kettle Campaign launch

Wintry weather brings Christmas spirit during Red Kettle Campaign launch

Snowy weather on Thursday closed schools and government offices, but it didn’t stop the local Salvation Army from holding its annual Red Kettle Campaign kickoff at Apple Blossom Mall.

About 20 people attended the event — a smaller crowd than usual — which Salvation Army Capt. Kelly Durant attributed to the weather.

Berryville Mayor Patricia Dickinson, who was slated to be the keynote speaker, was unable to attend due to the hazardous road conditions. Still, Durant was able to find a silver lining in the season’s first snowfall.

“It kind of makes it more exciting,” Durant said. “It gets the early Christmas spirit going. It’s a winter wonderland already.”

The Red Kettle fundraising campaign runs until Dec. 24. It involves volunteers ringing a bell and soliciting donations at numerous locations around the community from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday (no Sundays). Shifts tend to last four to eight hours.

This year, Red Kettles and bell ringers will be stationed at Apple Blossom Mall, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Big Lots and the Shop ‘n Save in Berryville. The Shop ‘n Save stores in Winchester and Frederick County recently closed.

The Salvation Army hopes to raise $140,000 this year. Last year, its campaign fell nearly $18,000 short of its $150,000 goal.

“We are disappointingly probably going to make less because we lost five locations of Shop ‘n Save,” Durant said. “But we are still going to work and do our best to raise about $140,000.”

The Salvation Army currently has 60 bell ringers, but it could use about 40 more.

Money raised during the campaign will serve families in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties who are in need of food, temporary housing and other assistance.

The Salvation Army has a homeless shelter at 300 Fort Collier Road with 48 beds. The shelter serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Tara McInturff, director of marketing for Apple Blossom Mall, commended the Salvation Army during the kickoff.

“It really shows the Salvation Army’s dedication to our community that they continue to hold this event on this snowy and icy day,” McInturff said. “They are truly here for our community.”

During the kickoff, the Salvation Army Brass Band of the National Capital Area played Christmas carols such as “Silver Bells” and “Jingle Bells” while those in attendance rang small handheld bells.

Later today, Apple Blossom Mall plans to set up a tree for the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Angel Tree program, which provides holiday gifts to local children.

People who want to purchase presents for a child at Christmas can select an angel-shaped tag from one of the Christmas trees that will be placed in public locations throughout the Winchester area. The angel will contain information about the child, such as name, age and Christmas wish list. People can buy gifts for the Angel Tree program until Dec. 20. The gifts will be brought to a distribution center, where they will be ready for pick up before Christmas.

Families who want to register their children for gifts through the Angel Tree program still have time, as the Salvation Army extended the registration deadline until 3 p.m. Sunday. Registration must be done in person at 300 Fort Collier Road.

When registering for the program, parents or caregivers must bring a valid photo ID, passport or consulate card to identify themselves. They must also provide proof of residence, proof of income, and birth certificates of all children (up to age 12) being registered, as well as custody or guardianship papers if the applicant is not the biological parent. Expecting mothers will need to a due date document from a physician if their child will be born before Dec. 25.

For more information, visit the Salvation Army’s website at virginiasalvationarmy.org/winchestervacorps or call 540-662-4777.

Emergency Disaster Personnel Worship Before Serving

Emergency Disaster Personnel Worship Before Serving

On Sunday morning, 38 of those people gathered to worship in Apalachicola before going out to serve those in need. Without chairs, people lined the bottom bleacher or stood in the old gym which has been converted into a community center. The pulpit was made by two boxes with a blanket over them. An offering was taken for Hurricane Michael.

The Salvation Army is serving those affected by Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle. Hundreds of personnel including officers, employees, and volunteers are deployed across multiple counties providing food, hydration, emotional and spiritual care as well as providing much-needed supplies.

On this Sunday, Captain Jason Perdieu shared these reminders, “Walls will not define us. Wherever we are, we are the church. We are here for such a time as this.” Major David Luft and Major Nelson De La Vergne led the worship service. Major De La Vergne opened the service with an object lesson in an optical illusion. It appeared he tore a piece of paper apart, representing all the messes we as humans make. God takes those many pieces and then burns them with the Holy Spirit to make us complete again. As the story concludes, the piece of paper is whole again.

Major Luft led the group in song with “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and began his sermon with Mark 4:35-40 (BLB) where Jesus rebuked the wind and sea. He asked the disciples “Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?” As everyone in the service is working with people affected by Hurricane Michael, the passages were especially meaningful.

The service was closed by one of the Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialists sharing the words to Casting Crowns’ “I’ll Praise You in the Storm.” The lyrics reminded everyone there The Salvation Army is ministering to Others in His name to those whose hearts are torn, yet still praising Him during the storm in their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Since shortly after the hurricane hit on October 10, one of serval Incident Management teams has been based in Apalachicola serving Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties. The Salvation Army remains committed to serving those whose lives have been forever changed.

“I trusted God through the whole storm and He has a plan for me, so I’m not afraid of the future. We’re just exhausted from the emotions,”

I Trusted God through the Whole Storm

“I trusted God through the whole storm and He has a plan for me, so I’m not afraid of the future. We’re just exhausted from the emotions,” she said.

Nestled along the St. Andrews Bay, is the historic neighborhood of St. Andrews, known for its quaint shops and home to free-spirited locals, like Joan “GG” Canal.

Still reeling two weeks after Hurricane Michael, debris from buildings and trees line the streets of St. Andrews. GG was cleaning out her vintage boutique that was heavily damaged by the storm, when Salvation Army Major Clarine Meitrott stopped by with a hot lunch and words of support.

“The amount of love from people like you with something like a warm meal is contagious,” GG said with tears in her eyes. “I hope the spirit lives on here in St. Andrews; the spirit of love that got us through the storm and is getting us through each day right now.”

Major Meitrott is among a team of Salvation Army officers from the US and Canada who are providing emotional and spiritual care to hurricane survivors like GG throughout the Panama City area.  The two women spoke at length and prayed together on the sidewalk in front of GG’s shop.

Although it would be some time before her business reopens, GG remains optimistic about life. She shares her messages of hope with the community through the words painted on signs in front of her store. One simply reads, “We will rebuild.” And on the plywood used to board up her broken store windows, she painted, “Psalm 57:1.” (Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I will take shelter until the danger has passed.)

“We’re glad we are still standing and give God all the glory, praise and honor due Him,” GG said.

Since Hurricane Michael made landfall, The Salvation Army has made 26,916 emotional and spiritual care contacts with survivors, a vital service in catastrophic events. Not all impacts of natural disasters are visible.  The Salvation Army addresses the stress of disaster survivors and first responders with emotional support and spiritual care.  Whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering a hug, joining together in prayer, or simply being present, providing spiritual comfort is the heart of The Salvation Army’s mission.

Dr. Elizabeth Blount is a local veterinarian in Tallahassee as well as a volunteer with TDI, which is a volunteer-based organization that provides therapy

Tallahassee Veterinarian Sharing in Salvation Army’s Ministry of Comfort

Dr. Elizabeth Blount is a local veterinarian in Tallahassee as well as a volunteer with TDI, which is a volunteer-based organization that provides therapy dogs to individuals in vulnerable situations such as disasters, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Emotional and spiritual care is a unique and valued component of The Salvation Army’s emergency response. In times of crisis, The Salvation Army utilizes trained personnel to provide comfort to rescue workers and disaster survivors.

The Salvation Army is partnering with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) to support serving people impacted by Hurricane Michael, including displaced families and first responders from the Florida State Emergency Response Team (SERT) in Tallahassee.

After receiving an email requesting therapy dogs to support The Salvation Army’s Incident Command service area for Tallahassee, Dr. Blount had a personal incentive to support this emergency response with her therapy dogs, golden retrievers Gabriel and Molly.

Dr. Blount was one of the many individuals who lost her home after Hurricane Irma devastated the Florida Keys last year. The Category 4 hurricane flooded her home with over 3 feet of water, roofs were torn off, and buildings were demolished. While Dr. Blount and her neighbors were outside rummaging through the debris for their personal belongings, a Salvation Army mobile feeding unit made its way through the wreckage.

“The mobile unit came down the street and stopped at every single house, greeted us, handed us a hot meal, and told us they loved us. It was literally enough to make us cry,” said Dr. Blount. “Not only were we desperate for a meal and water but just for somebody to say hey, we care…it made all the difference.”

Solace can come from a hot meal, a hug from a furry friend, or the caring presence of The Salvation Army’s staff and volunteers. As of October 16, The Salvation Army has provided emotional and spiritual care to 7,000 survivors and first responders impacted by Hurricane Michael in Florida.

 

To help support the disaster relief work of The Salvation Army, donations can be made at www.HelpSalvationArmy.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, by texting STORM to 51555, or by check (designated “2018 Hurricane Season – Michael”) mailed to PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.