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April is National Alcohol Awareness Month

April is National Alcohol Awareness Month – an opportunity to raise awareness of alcohol abuse, prevent underage drinking, and encourage all people to make healthy, safe choices. As such, The Salvation Army is praying for the full recovery of those who suffer from alcohol dependency: please join us!

Founding this month of awareness, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has provided a plethora of statistics and helpful links about the nation’s third leading lifestyle cause of death.

Excessive alcoholism accounts for approximately 79,000 deaths each year with one in 12 adults suffering from abuse or dependence. Unaccounted for are the millions of family members and children of the addicted family member suffering with physical and emotional abuse as well as financial burdens.

Adult dependency surveys reveal that almost half of people treated for alcohol dependency were in high school when they used alcohol for the first time. This is not surprising considering a reported 10 million American youths drink alcohol habitually, making it the #1 drug problem for young people.

So what do can we do to prevent youth from drinking? Research shows that kids who hear from their parents about the risks of alcohol, are up to 50% less likely to drink. For a list of statistics and helpful pointers for educating children, click here.

In support of this month, we hope you’ll help us pass on the word about The Salvation Army’s intensive Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC). In St. Louis, we also offer Harbor Light, a facility that helps homeless alcohol men turn their lives around with a shorter duration treatment program.

The Salvation Army views alcohol and other substance dependence as a condition of both the heart and the mind, and that you can’t have full healing of the body without spiritual recovery. So for over 100 years, The Salvation Army has been helping adults burdened by the physical and spiritual afflictions of alcoholism through treatment programs involving counseling, good food, work therapy, life skills classes, leisure time, group bonding, and spiritual direction.

Each year, approximately 350,000 individuals are successfully treated through these centers nationwide!

If you know of someone who would benefit from treatment at these centers, please contact us by visiting www.satruck.org.

Want to take part in recognizing the 26th Alcohol Awareness Month? Local, state and national level partners with the NCADD will host a variety of activities to educate people about treatment and prevention of alcoholism. Click here to learn more.

Volunteers Needed – No, YOU are needed

By: Sheila R. Davis, Volunteer Coordinator

Have you ever read the volunteer opportunities listed by an organization and thought, “hmm, nothing here applies to my skills and/or interest?”  For various reasons (often monetary, time and or staff limitations, etc.,) non-profits post what can appear to be generic position descriptions.  Instead of being the end point, I believe these position descriptions can be a jumping off point to match talented, creative volunteers with meaningful projects. However, it will take effort for organizations and potential volunteers to make this happen. 

The next time you come across a volunteer opportunity that doesn’t seem to fit your interests or skills, don’t just move on.  Think about it; maybe the position can be tweaked to better match your skills or maybe the description can be a springboard to another opportunity tailor made for your skill set.  For example an organization has an opening for a food pantry volunteer. Maybe stocking shelves is not your cup of tea, but you have experience as a dietician.  You could offer your services to educate the pantry clients on cost effective ways to make healthy, nutritious meals on limited budget.  An organization lists a position as “youth activities aide”, you may not have experience working with children or teens, but you’re a computer programmer.  You could offer to teach a workshop on Programming 101. Who knows, you may end up inspiring the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  Let’s say you have experience in Human Resources, you could offer to help the Volunteer Coordinator (hint, hint) update the current volunteer descriptions or create new ones.

Experts call this “skills-based volunteering”, which means leveraging the specialized skills and talents of individuals to strengthen the infrastructure of nonprofits, helping them build and sustain their capacity to successfully achieve their missions.

There are many benefits to skill based volunteering for both the organization and for the volunteer. The nonprofit is able to take advantage of the volunteer’s professional knowledge and business expertise and, at the same time, the volunteer receives cost-effective training and development. For volunteers, skills-based volunteering provides the opportunity to use their expertise to make a measurable impact on issues they care about.

To learn more about skills based volunteering, click here.

To learn more about volunteering with The Salvation Army in Missouri and Southern Illinois, click here.

When it’s time to ask for help…

A message from Divisional Commander Lonneal Richardson

This year, nearly every location of The Salvation Army is reporting former donors who are now coming to The Salvation Army for aid. Young professionals and those who were nearing retirement who gave faithfully for years are finding themselves without a job, or with a depleted retirement fund and are having to come back to the organization they’ve long supported, this time seeking aid.

Over and over this year, our case workers have shared with us that clients who may be seeking food pantry assistance are reluctant to accept Christmas help, because they are holding out hope that things will get better for their families prior to the holiday.

We pray for each of our clients and their families that the economy will return once again strong and that there will be jobs enough for all who want them, but we want to encourage all clients and prospective clients who are presently in a tough spot to reach out and get the aid they need for the holidays. We are offering just three more days to apply for holiday assistance – whether it be toys for your children or a holiday meal, we have programs that can help.

Please take the aid we have to offer and give back one day when you’re in a better place. It is an honor for us to give a hand up to individuals this holiday season, and to ensure that no child goes without on Christmas morning.

On November 28 to 30, we will accept our final applications for holiday aid. If you or someone you know is in need this holiday season, we ask you to come out and let us share our gifts and prayers with you this season. Call 314-646-3000 for more information, or reach out to your nearest community center to schedule your appointment.

May God bless and keep you and yours this holiday season.

Major Lonneal Richardson
Divisional Commander, Midland Division

First Annual Turkey Tweet Up!

Take a break from the pre-Thanksgiving rush and join us for the First Annual Turkey Tweetup on Tuesday, November 22 at the Moonrise Hotel, on November 22nd from 11:30 to 1:00 in support of The Salvation Army.

St. Louis professionals and Twitterfiles will gather together to network, eat and tweet about all things Thanksgiving -favorite foods, what they’re thankful for and more!

Attendees are encourage to bring three boxes or cans of food for entrance to the event. Lunch is included with the price of admission.

Guests will be entered to win a night stay at the Moonrise, dinner at the Eclipse restaurant or a Thanksgiving turkey and we will be on hand to draw the prize.

All food donated will go to our O’Fallon food pantry!

We hope to see you there!

PLEASE REMEMBER TO RSVP AT:

http://twtup.com/TurkeyTweetupSTL

The hashtag is #TurkeyTweetupSTL.

Thanks for your support! We look forward to seeing you there!

Feeling the Pain: One addict learns to experience life, good and bad

By: Danni Eickenhorst, MidlandDivision, Content Specialist

Phil George turned 18 in the Illinois Juvenile Correction System. He entered adulthood battling mental illness, addiction and ghosts from his early days. At 16, he was kicked out of his childhood home. Suffering from parental rejection and abuse, he turned to borderline behaviors and had been jailed for burning down a house in an insurance scheme.

Phil works to fill food orders at the Alton Salvation Army food pantry.

Upon exiting the system, George found himself homeless and turned to using drugs. He entered into The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light facility in downtown St. Louis, where he stayed nearly four months. “I wasn’t ready to get help yet, but they showed me a lot of love,” he recalls.

Each time he would get sober, tragedy would strike, sending him into a tailspin that would jeopardize his sobriety. He suffered the loss of a best friend, and two girlfriends, and became haunted by the losses.  “Old Phil would show up. I would relapse, try to commit suicide, stop going to meetings and volunteering,” he said.

Today, Phil is sober and has been for almost five years. “I stay clean for my grandmother,” he says, choking up, “I stole from her when I was in my addiction, and I feel that staying clean is the only way I can make it up to her, now that she has passed away.” Phil attends 12-step meetings several times weekly and finds comfort in daily routines, such as volunteering three to four days each week at The Salvation Army’s food pantry inAlton. “Here I am surrounded by positive people. It’s been good for me. I have a support system,” says George, “I have learned to feel the pain, both good and bad, and to get through it, and having that support has made all the difference.”

Unexpected Freedom

Rowland Garner arrived in St. Louis in February 2011 expecting to be locked away in federal prison. In the days prior to his long bus ride from Detroit, Rowland said farewell to friends and family, sold all of his belongings and gave away what remained. With courage and conviction, he arrived at the Federal Marshall’s office to turn himself in.

Upon searching through federal records and databases, federal marshals informed Mr. Garner that he was a free man, that there was nothing on his record in Missouri, and that there were no other charges for which he could be extradited on his record.

“I should have been happy,” recalls Rowland, “but I was in shock, numb.”

Rowland started walking, thinking about what had gotten him to this point. “I’d been working in Michigan helping others with substance abuse counseling, when a member of my church came to me and asked me to minister to her son who was arrested in Missouri. I knew I couldn’t help him, because of unresolved legal matters, and that feeling of helplessness drove me to clear up the matter once and for all. “

Rowland had tied up all of his life’s loose ends, and headed to Missouri for incarceration. Now that he was a “free man,” he found himself homeless with only $30 in his pocket. As he walked, he found himself at 18th Street & Washington Avenue, where he sat at a bus stop to rest. When a gentleman heard his story, he gave him a bus transfer and asked the bus to take him to The Salvation Army, further down Washington Avenue.

“Sure enough,” he remembers, “the bus doors opened up and there was The Salvation Army.”

Rowland is a recovering addict and had suffered a lapse in sobriety at his farewell party. Because of this lapse in sobriety, the intake counselor at Harbor Light recommended that he reenter treatment to prevent the lapse from becoming a full relapse that might totally jeopardize his long-term sobriety. Rowland entered the Harbor Light’s sobriety program and stayed from February to the end of August 2011. Due to his experience as a substance abuse counselor in Michigan and his commitment to sobriety, he was invited to lead and facilitate some groups during his stay, including “Recovery with Jesus.”

 “I was living a life that was not totally pleasing in the eyes of God. This journey was a catalyst for change,” he says as he looks back on 2011 and the journey he took in obedience to God, “the staff and program here at the Harbor Light reinforced my sobriety, answered my homelessness need, provided needed resources and helped me to address medical issues.”

Embracing his unexpected freedom and the new path set before him, Rowland thrived in the Harbor Light program and now lives nearby in his own apartment and has established a new life in St. Louis, his one-time childhood home. Garner feels he still has much to offer, having a firm hold on his sobriety and faith, along with the necessary credentials, experience and passion to continue his substance abuse counseling career in St. Louis.

Support BSA Food Drives in November

The Salvation Army has addressed unprecedented need in Missouri and Southern Illinois, both in response to natural disasters and the general economy.

The Greater St. Louis Boy Scouts of America will host their annual “Scouting for Food” event this month. On Saturday November 12, 1.4 million bags will be distributed to as to homes throughout the St. Louis area. On November 19, Scouts will pick up non-perishable donations and deliver them to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

The Salvation Army and many other local food pantries will benefit from the bounty that you give to this very worthy youth organization. The initiative has the very lofty goal of collecting more than 2 million cans for 500 pantries, and it cannot achieve that goal without your support.

Please visit http://www.stlbsa.org/programs/sff/Pages/Scouting-for-Food.aspx for additional information on this event and how you can help.

Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary Christmas card now on sale

Proceeds from sales directly benefit The Salvation Army of Missouri and Illinois

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Content Specialist, Midland Division

The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary has released their 2011 holiday card. This year’s 5×7 full color card was designed by local artist Melinda Roeleveld and features The Salvation Army bell ringers in downtown St. Louis across from the Peabody Opera House.

Sending this card to family and friends not only shows your support for the organization, which has been “Doing the Most Good” in St. Louis since 1881, but it also directly benefits the Salvation Army, an international organization that provides social services, youth programming and homeless assistance throughout Missouri and Southern Illinois.

Christmas cards may be picked up at The Salvation Army, 1130 Hampton Avenue, or mailed to your residence for an additional fee. Prices start at $10 for 10 cards, with bulk purchase rates available. For more information, contact Kathy Poston at (314) 646-3039.

The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary is made up of prominent women who develop public understanding of Salvation Army programs, provide hands-on assistance for projects such as Tree of Lights, and raise funds through diverse events.   These fundraisers and events include anything from fashion shows and luncheons to arts and crafts sales and Christmas cards.

The Salvation Army is an international organization that has been doing the most good in the St. Louis region for 129 years. The Salvation Army serves community members 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year through emergency disaster services and dozens of different programs that are designed to help people attain, or regain, self-sufficiency. For more information, please call 314.646.3000 or visit www.stl-salvationarmy.org.

Miracle on Marcus

Today, Soldier Artemis Wallace represented The Salvation Army at the Miracle on Marcus Street, the unveiling of 17 buildings that have been rehabilitated to house 40 families, who will benefit from the affordable cost of living provided by this project. The Salvation Army commends the many people who made this day possible. Today, families cook dinner and children now play in this newly revitalized neighborhood near our Euclid Corps thanks to their hard work and dedication to the St. Louis community.

Soldier Wallace delivers the closing prayer at the unveiling at Marcus & Martin Luther King on October 27, 2011. Pictured: Soldier Wallace, Lewis Reed, President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen & Ward 4 Alderman Samuel Moore.

“Get out of His Way”: A Story of Addiction & Obedience

By: Danielle Eickenhorst, Midland Division, Communications Specialist

Brian Gordon, 46, was abandoned by his mother as a child, and given, along with his three siblings, to a grandmother who was charged with raising him. “It wasn’t a good experience,” he recalls, “My grandmother was raising me and my three siblings and she had 11 of her own children to care for.”

Lost in the shuffle, Gordon recalls that his first dalliance with alcohol came at the tender age of five. “My grandmother would set aside sips of her beer and sometimes put back some for us kids. She never knew we’d get addicted.”

At the age of nine, an aunt introduced Brian to marijuana, which he continued to use until he reached junior high school. In junior high, Brian made the very adult decision to stop using alcohol and drugs because the people in his life weren’t using and he wanted to be more like them, but growing up in a community of addicts and drug dealers, Brian still frequently found himself in trouble with the law, and once he reached high school, he began to deal drugs and returned to substance abuse, using speed and PCP.

Unbelievably, at the age of 16 Brian was convicted of fire-bombing a house in retaliation for an outstanding drug debt. “They tried to give me life in prison,” he recalls, “but the judge said he saw something in me and sent me to a boys group home instead.” Around this same time, Brian had another brush with death that would lead him to a life-changing decision. In another drug-related scheme, a man seeking to kill Brian mistakenly killed many of Brian’s friends.

“I knew God had something planned for me,” he recalls, “I’d escaped with my life and had almost gotten life in prison,” but he didn’t. Instead, while in juvenile hall, Brian came in contact with a pastor who helped him make the decision to turn his life over to Christ, a decision that would make all the difference for him 30 years later.

Despite his faith, Brian continued to struggle once he returned home. From the age of 18 to the age of 24, Brian became hooked on crack cocaine, saw two marriages fail and even attempted suicide. “I would go in for rehabilitation or treatment, but would always fail when I went back out, because I was going for external reasons – to keep a job, to make my wife happy…” he says, “It wasn’t until I got sick that it all came together.”

In May of 2011, after undergoing surgery for severe bleeding in his stomach, Brian came to The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light for respite care. The staff at Harbor Light helped him through the recovery, ensuring that he followed the necessary steps to heal, and making certain that he took all necessary medications. Through his 3-month involvement with The Salvation Army’s respite program, Brian was able to find sobriety, to reconnect with and develop a closer relationship with God and to ultimately, find an apartment of his own. He will celebrate six months of sobriety next month.

“My son even lets me keep my four grandkids now,” he remarks with a smile.

Brian is slated to become a soldier of The Salvation Army when he completes classes and graduates in December. He will ring bells through the holiday season to assist in The Salvation Army’s Tree of Lights fundraising initiative. He continues to look for work in the hospitality industry – either cooking or performing janitorial work.

Brian hopes that his decades-long struggle and the success that he has had through The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light center will be an inspiration to those in his family and circle who still struggle with substance abuse.

For those struggling with sobriety or other issues, Brian simply says, “I would tell them to put their faith in God. Let God to what he has to do and get out of His way. We must be obedient. I following him because I know God didn’t lead me this far to leave me.”

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