Future of Community Meals

Dear Friends,

We hope you had wonderful Christmas and are enjoying an equally wonderful 2016 so far. High among our blessings in 2015 was your continued support our community feeding program, Community Meals. Your cooking and service made it possible for us to serve 50,000+ meals over the course of the year and we are grateful for your support.

We are taking this opportunity to update you on Community Meals and its future. Recently we have experienced a rise in violence during our breakfast and dinner service to the community. Within the last week, several altercations have taken place, some resulting in personal injury and others in property damage, leading us to serve the meals carryout rather than dine in, simply out of danger to our shelter residents, volunteers and staff. In 2015 we also had to call the police over two dozen times to report incidents and request assistance.

Additionally, we have experienced issues with client confidentiality and safety as a result of allowing close to 150 individuals into our building to receive a meal. The use of the cafeteria and staff time during the Community Meals service has also hindered the service we aim to provide for our shelter residents whom come to us expecting transformational programming to help them in their journey toward self-sufficiency. However, because of strained staffing and lack of space, we have been unable to provide this service to the level our residents deserve and we expect of ourselves.

With that said, we will be ending our service of the Community Meals program. Friday, January 29 will be the last day of breakfast service and Saturday, February 27 will be the last day of the Community Meals dinner.

Mid-way through 2015 we began review of the Community Meals program and whether the growing number of calls to the police, property damage and staff strain justified continuing the service at the cost of serving our shelter residents. We concluded that our mission, “To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination”, was not being applied among our shelter residents appropriately while we continued Community Meals.

We had hoped to have serve meals further into the New Year, however, due to the rise in incidents such as mentioned above, we feel no choice but to completely end the program on Saturday, February 27.

We will continue to serve breakfast and dinner to our shelter residents, a number of about 60, seven days a week. We pray that you can continue to support our feeding efforts and respect the decision to close the Community Meals service. Within the week our Volunteer Coordinator, Joanna Brown, or a member of our staff, will call you to discuss this. We will also be working on a list of other organizations who offer feeding programs to the community and communicate that to you, should you wish to continue with this type of support.

Thank you again for your support and God bless,

Major Timothy Carter
Area Commander, The Salvation Army Central Virginia

Salvation Army Petersburg Shelter Participating in 100 Day Challenge

The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter in Petersburg is participating in the “100 Day Challenge”, a campaign to house homeless veterans, which began August 3, and will conclude on November 10, one day before Veteran’s Day.

Prior to the challenge, The Salvation Army Emergency Men’s Shelter (835 Commerce St., Petersburg, VA) was already serving a steady stream of homeless veterans. On a given night as many as 25% of shelter residents are veterans. In the shelter men receive meals, case management, referrals to other programs and fellowship.

“The ‘100 day Challenge’ puts the spotlight on one of the most vulnerable populations in the Tri-Cities, our homeless veterans,” said Jewel Farrar, Shelter Manager for The Salvation Army in Petersburg. “When men come through The Salvation Army shelter, we’re able offer them a stable environment and empowering employment and education preparation courses, business and life skills programs that help break the cycle of homelessness and prevent relapse. And this challenge is a great spark for collaboration with other agencies to serve the men who have served us.”

Since January 1, 2014, The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter has provided 450 men, 113 of them veterans, with resources connected to the shelter such as assistance with substance abuse, direct financial assistance, assistance with mental illness & treatment for stability, and collaboration with other local agencies assisting with employment and stable housing.

“A lot of soldiers aren’t equipped for civilian live when leaving the military,” said Charles Kelley, a U.S. Army veteran with more than 10 years of service who has received assistance from The Salvation Army. “These programs are beneficial to a lot of people. If The Salvation Army didn’t help me, I’d be in a pretty rough situation.”

The “100 Day Challenge” is part of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s initiatives for Virginia to be the first state to reach the federal goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

“We must renew our commitment to better serve our veterans in every community across the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe in a news release about the campaign. “Our labors on their behalf pale compared to the sacrifices these men and women have made in service to our country.”

Leading up the challenge, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), hosted a Veteran Housing Boot Camp on July 31 at the Petersburg Public Library. The Boot Camp gave Salvation Army staff and volunteers the opportunity to reevaluate their process for serving veterans and collaborate other service providers on the spot.

During the 100 Day Challenge, Crater District services providers have committed to reaching 75 homeless veterans and successfully housing 40 of them.

A Veteran’s Unconditional Love

We look forward to recognizing those who have served, sacrificed and demonstrated the pinnacle of patriotism.

As we understand the depth of those experiences, let us aspire to the values our service men and women learn and share with their families and communities upon return: loyalty, duty, respect, honor and unconditional love.

Rodney is a loyal marine. He was not spared life’s struggles, but, he now practices the traits of unconditional love with the homeless and others who may be faced with challenges.

The power of unconditional love was exemplified as The Salvation Army Lassies and Volunteers worked 18 to 20 hour shifts to operate 1,000 canteens on 26 battlefronts during World War I. That compassion etched a place in the hearts of thousands of ordinary soldiers who gratefully received help and comfort in their darkest hour.

Jesus led with unconditional love and taught us it will have the final word.

This Memorial Day please allow us to thank you for rekindling the spirits of our veterans with your involvement and showing them their worth to the One who matters.

A Veteran’s Strength Through Christ

The Salvation Army Donuts of Hope campaign celebrates the connection between the donut and the support Salvation Army Donut Lassies offered to soldiers on the front lines during both World Wars. The campaign also raises awareness and support for Salvation Army programs serving veterans in our community, who today, find themselves fighting for housing, food and employment. Please allow us to share their stories of hope with you over the next three weeks.

Planting Seeds for Salvation

At The Salvation Army, we have dozens of staff members and hundreds of volunteers who serve our program participants each in a different and unique way. Some of us plant seeds and others water seeds but it is always God who gives the increase. This week we have a feature on someone who has been planting seeds in a place where it’s not always easy to see a flower bloom.

Sixteen to eighteen hours a week, Malik Shabazz, an ordained minister and certified substance abuse counselor comes to The Salvation Army emergency shelter to meet with shelter residents and address their history with alcohol or substance abuse. Through a rough background of his own, Malik knows a flower may not immediately bloom but it’s planting the seed that’s important.

Malik is a firm believer in Romans 8:28, that says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose,” and knows that God was working all things together to give him a voice to be able to genuinely share with others and lift them up.

Malik went on to say that the substance abuse program is only as good as the resources which are poured into it and though flowers don’t bloom right away, it has been invaluable to its participants. Please keep Monday, February 23rd at 11am on your calendar for the Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker event at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls. This is going to be a great event where Dr. Walker and a Richmond community leader panel will talk with area youth about finding their legacy. More information is available at

A Legacy of Adversity to Progress

Many of us have been through circumstances were we have called out to God for help…and Charles is no different but God’s healing and protection for him was something different…and we’ll share that in this week’s Salvation Army News Update.

Second Corinthians chapter four verses eight and nine say, ‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;’ and Charles experienced many of those but through faith in God and personal ambition he’s proving he’s not been crushed.

It was that ambition and self-motivation that led Charles to enroll in The Salvation Army’s A Step Up Program which included a certification class as a Personal Care Aide through a partnership with the Professional Career Institute.

A gift to the Online Red Kettle is one way to feel God’s presence and bring His blessing to Charles and other men, women and children who may face challenge but long to fulfill their potential. The Online Red Kettle closes January 31st. Thank you for allowing us to the share this story with you.

One parting note, on Monday, February 23, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club will host Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker for a special speaking engagement to area youth on finding their legacy. Dr. Walker was the former Chief of Staff to Dr. Martin Luther King and is a graduate of Virginia Union University.

From Street Life to Jesus Christ

Amos grew up in the projects of Chester, Pennsylvania. At the age of 12 he began dealing drugs, crossing state-lines dealing and get involved with gangs. He’s been incarcerated a couple times, and though he was raised in a Christian home he didn’t Christ until he was in the back seat of a police car in Pennsylvania 15 years ago. Today, his life is much different and he’s having a positive impact on the youth of Richmond as Youth Pastor at St. Mark Church of God in Christ.

Finding God in Joyce’s Story

It is your kindness that has been the means that God has of touching Joyce with His love, of relating to His Word, of enabling her family to discover His saving grace.

Giving Tuesday

Kelli talks about how making a gift to The Salvation Army on Giving Tuesday can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.

Striving for a Better Future

Tanika came to The Salvation Army in the summer of 2014 after bills had piled up and she needed help with her utility bill. While there, she asked if The Salvation Army offered education and job placement programs in the medical field.