Category Archives: Temple

Priceless

This post is written by Dana Biermann, Digital Marketing and Communication Manager.

Getting ready in line to 'bat' in kickball at Temple Corps

Getting ready in line to ‘bat’ in kickball at Temple Corps

Yesterday, Ashley Kuenstler (our Content Specialist) and myself went out to our Temple Corps in St. Louis City to get some pictures of the kids in the evening programs that are offered there.

We got to spend the evening watching kids play kickball, while other tiny ones were in the Moonbeams character building program carefully creating hand-print art for their moms, and another group was practicing the National Anthem to perform for our Behind the Red Shield Gala this Friday.

Now, judging by the after-school programs and evening activities I had growing up, I was expecting chaos: TONS of kids, leaders shouting to get their attention, kids being mean to each other… just general rowdiness.

And I could not have been more wrong.

The kids were so well-behaved. They were so supportive of each other, and even during kickball when the tiniest of players had his turn kicking the ball (and his team expected he would get tagged out), the bigger kids were cheering him on and being very patient. All of them were having a blast. And when one child kicked the ball so hard that he homered into the street, the leaders very calmly and patiently brought all the kids together and they listened intently as he reminded them of the safety procedures when someone gets a home run and why their safety was so important. They all nodded in agreement, and went back to the game.

This made me smile so big. Our motto is Doing The Most Good, and yesterday, I saw the most good being encouraged in these kids by the amazing leadership at Temple Corps. We don’t have these programs for the sake of having them: we have them because they are needed. Kids need positive outlets in nurturing environments in all neighborhoods, and in Benton Park, we have that. We also have it in North City, Maplewood, and South City, and all over the county and the region. And for the kids in these programs, the benefits are priceless.

We need your help to make sure that our city corps have the after-school funding they need by voting for us to win $20,000. You can vote every day and know that it is going toward the betterment of these amazing kids in great programs. But we can’t do that without you. Stop by Monsanto’s Grow St. Louis Facebook page and vote for us every day through May 19th. 

On behalf of all the kids in our programs, thank you!

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Dynamic Duo Volunteers Make a Difference

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

Scott and Dan are more than just coworkers – they are best friends.

As volunteer maintenance workers for The Salvation Army-Harbor Light Center this dynamic duo always is on the move. They do just about everything from plumbing, electrical work, painting, organizing warehouses, fixing trucks and trailers, and disaster relief – always performing these tasks as a partnership.

Both men began their volunteering journey with The Salvation Army by performing construction at the Harbor Light Center. Realizing the poor condition of this location, their hearts were moved to help all St. Louis-area Salvation Army locations in any way possible. They have been working as an unstoppable team ever since.

Their previous projects include fixing up a playground at the Temple Corps, picking up supplies Boy Scouts collected, fixing up the Emergency Disaster Services warehouse where all the disaster relief supplies are stored, fixing up the social services warehouse where furniture for The Salvation Army is stored, among a myriad of others.

Scott (pictured left) and Dan (pictured right) saw what unfortunate condition these warehouses previously were in, so say they knew there was no other choice but to reorganize them.

In fact, upon arrival at the Emergency Disaster Services warehouse, Scott sat down and immediately wrote a list of everything that needed to be fixed. His list grew to six pages.

Following Scott’s new guidelines, every last box and machine was taken out of the warehouse, supplies were sorted through and the warehouse was reorganized in only two weeks, showing his passionate dedication.

“When we get on a job site, we don’t waste time,” says Dan proudly.

Scott and Dan’s biggest undertakings have been disaster relief projects. This unparalleled duo has helped after the tornado of New Year’s 2011, the Good Friday tornado of 2011, the Harrisburg tornadoes and the Joplin tornadoes. These two have had countless opportunities to touch lives.

“…Cleaning front yards from tornados, it’s simple stuff that really touched people,” explains Dan.

But both Scott and Dan realize while this work is rewarding, it is challenging as well.

“I’ve seen a lot of hurt people,” says Dan as he continues to briefly tell a story about a man in Joplin who didn’t even know his house had been hit by the tornado until he saw The Salvation Army volunteers working on his broken home.

They have definitely seen it all. Dan also explains about a tree that had been picked up by a tornado and planted back down, smack dab in the middle of someone’s house.

“It looked like a flower pot!” says Dan with a hearty laugh.

There is nothing they can’t tackle as long as they are together.

“[The most challenging part of volunteering is] explaining to other people how to do a job other than just doing it yourself,” says Dan. “Others don’t have the sense of immediacy that [Scott and I] do.”

While it might be difficult to take a step back and let others join in when you are as talented as these two, Dan sums up the most rewarding part of volunteering for The Salvation Army in a few words.

“Getting away from yourself,” he says as Scott silently nods in approval with a solemn smile on his face.

In addition to being a volunteer maintenance man, Scott has been pursuing his Ph.D. and heading a research project to cure sepsis. Scott previously served in the Army for 34 years, starting in Vietnam and finishing in Afghanistan. He worked as a special forces medic for the last 31 years of his army career.

Since his army days, he has received a Masters degree in microbiology and a Masters degree in public health. Currently, he teaches graduate students at Washington University Medical School while working toward his Ph.D. and continuing his research. In the fall, he will begin teaching full time and will receive his Ph.D. in December.

“At his age, what else has he got to do?!”  Dan jokes with him.

All jokes aside, however, these men inspire people with their big actions and even bigger hearts.

“We’re the only two they have like us,” says Dan “We’re floaters.”

This couldn’t be a more true testimony, as these two are a one-of-a-kind pair. People might hesitate separating them if they want a job done right. They have been working together for only two-and-a-half years and they are already finishing each other’s sentences, helping each other remember details when recalling past projects and laughing about inside jokes.

It’s apparent they like their job best if they can work together. They work as a team to improve the shelters so the shelters can improve the lives of the homeless. Their impressive skill level allows them to be useful throughout The Salvation Army’s Midland Division.

To put it simply, they can truly go anywhere and do anything. These two absolutely love what they do and they are moved by God every day to fulfill His work.

Summer Program Brings Nutritional Meals to Children

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

This summer, the Salvation Army Temple Corps is committed to feeding children nutritious meals. To carry out this goal, this corps along with other Salvation Army corps and communities throughout Missouri are participating in the Summer Food Service Program.

The Temple Corps opened the program to children of their community, and currently children of the Temple Corps Day Camp are taking advantage of the program’s meals. The program started June 4 and will end Aug. 10.

The purpose of the Summer Food Service Program is to provide meals to underprivileged children outside of school, hence why the program takes place during the summer months. The program begins after school is dismissed for the summer and ends just before school begins again in the fall.

“They finish the program on a Friday, and go back to school that Monday,” explains Laura Grainger, Temple Corps Program Director.

The Summer Food Service Program stands out because it allows sites to not only serve meals, but to serve healthy meals to children. The Temple Corps created two week’s worth of menus, and the Missouri Department of Health verified the food choice’s healthy qualities with their approval.

The menus will be rotated throughout the summer to make sure children receive an assortment of healthy foods. The program provides breakfast and lunch, and every meal consists of a grain, fruit or vegetable, and milk.

One of the most respectable rules of the program is that the children must be given everything on the menu at each meal. This ensures that a child is not given a meal lacking the important elements, because those nutritional elements are the main reason for the program.

At the Temple Corps, if a child does not wish to eat part of his or her meal, they can choose to put that item on the “share table.” This means a different child who might want an extra portion could pick it up from this table for themselves. Such an efficient system makes sure no valued, nutritional food is wasted.

This is the first summer the Temple Corps is acting both as a sponsor and a food service site for the program. In previous years, the Temple Corps has asked vendors to provide their meals, but this year they are taking on the challenge of cooking their own meals for their site.

The Temple Corps gets supplies from U.S. Foods, and then the corps’s cook whips up the meals for the children. By using their own cook, this corps now has the opportunity to serve hot meals. There had been complaints in previous years of the food being repetitive and bland, but this year children enjoy the likes of hot fish sticks or macaroni and cheese!

It was quite a process to become both a site and a sponsor for the program, but the Temple Corps excels as both. To qualify as an adequate site for the program, the Missouri Department of Health had to examine the site’s school data and verify that they have at least 50 percent of their children are eligible for free lunch, and more than 80 percent of children at Temple Corps are eligible. Having such a large population of underprivileged children meant that the Temple Corps was eager to get the ball rolling and gain more outreach to the community.

The Temple Corps had to undergo an inspection by the Missouri Department of Health to make sure their site was qualified to be a sponsor. Once approved, participants had to partake in an orientation in order to learn the responsibilities of being a sponsored site.

The Missouri Department of Health will continue to inspect the Temple Corps’s program throughout the summer to make sure their site is continuing to uphold the healthy expectations.

Sure, distributing food can be a simple task. However, Grainger wanted to emphasize that providing the children with nutritional meals is what really sets them on the right track to leading healthier lives.

“It’s a really good program, especially with the nutritional component,” she says. “It’s so easy to feed people!”

The children of the day camp already are on the right path, as they pray before every meal and then excitedly munch on their hot dogs and watermelon.

Day camp provides education and quality meals to children during the summer, when they would otherwise be lost in the absence of school. The Temple Corps is happy to make sure children are not neglected without the conveniences of school, and their summer of service is already off to a great start.

A God of Second Chances: Haitian Man Receives the Gift of Sight, Twice

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division with an update from Kara Langford, Haiti

Photo by: Kara Langford

“God always comes through for me,” said Mackendy Charles a Haitian gentleman, who gave thanks to his sight first and foremost to God, and then to the doctors, and Salvation Army personnel who have twice come to his aid to save his sight.

In 2006, Charles, then 21, approached Salvation Army Envoys Steve and Ketsie Diaz, while he attended the Army’s Secondary School in Port-au-Prince. His eyes had been badly damaged from a childhood bout of Tuberculosis. His eyes were gray, cloudy, badly scarred and caused him great pain.

“My mom had spent all of her money helping me and we were out of options, so I approached Envoy Steve for help.”

Diaz arranged for Mackendy to see a specialist, who informed him the surgery and treatment he required was not possible in Haiti, and that without a double corneal transplant, he would soon lose his sight. The specialist informed Diaz that Mackendy would have to go to the United States in order to receive proper care. “We didn’t have the funds to help him,” recalls Diaz, who told Mackendy there was nothing more they could do.

Diaz did however reach out to friends in the United States – Dr. Schoults and Dr. Kiernan, an anesthesiologist and an ophthalmic surgeon, who agreed to perform Mackendy’s transplant free of charge, even getting the hospital to write off any fees.

Mackendy, as he was departing from St. Louis. (Pictured left to right: Envoy Ketsia Diaz, Kyle Diaz, Mackendy Charles, John Aho, Envoy Steve Diaz)

“I was very happy for the help these people gave me,” remembers Mackendy, “because I knew my family and I could not do it alone.”

Once in the United States, Mackendy quickly received treatment and afterwards, his vision improved dramatically – going from a 6 inch field of vision to more than 6 feet in the first day.

“I couldn’t see before. It had gotten so bad that I couldn’t read on my own. I was so happy to be able to read again.”

In 2009, Envoys Diaz were transferred to St. Louis, Mo., to be administrators at a community center leaving Mackendy. In 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti.

“I was really worried. I lost my home. I lost my glasses. I lost my medicine. I couldn’t get to my doctor. My eyes kept getting worse, and I thought I would lose my sight again.”

As his vision worsen, Mackendy reached again. The doctors, hospital, and Salvation Army rose to the occasion, this time with the assistance of the South Side Lion’s Club in St. Louis, which paid for travel costs and associated fees. On Sept. 13, 2011, Mackendy returned to the states.

Michael Santangelo, president of the South Side Lion’s Club, recalled when Envoy Diaz first approached his fellow members for help. “It was a no brainer,” he said, “This is what we do. We deliver help when we can, and are especially motivated by protecting and providing sight.”

Diaz reconnected Mackendy with his doctors, who found that he had scarring, blood vessel damage and cataract growth. On Oct. 19, 2011, Mackendy underwent surgery to remove cataracts and scar tissue, and to replace one cornea. Following his procedure, he stayed with Envoys Diaz at their home until January when he returned to Haiti.

An Update From Kara Langford, Communications Officer, The Salvation Army – Haiti

Photo by: Kara Langord

Mackendy is back in Port-au-prince living in a tent with his mother in the IDP camp next to the Army’s Delmas 2 compound. He is satisfied with the results of the operation and though he’s had a bit of irritation in his right eye, he reports his vision is better and will have his first visit with his local doctor on March 2. Mackendy is enjoying his university studies in theology and is excited to graduate in July. He still travels, and studies, with the help of his cousin and doesn’t let his vision issues slow him down one bit. He was recently appointed the director of Sunday schools for his church. He is very thankful for all the opportunities he’s been offered through the kindness of others but recognizes that God is the one who made the way. “It was God’s plan for me not to lose my eyes,” he said.

Mackendy reports that his favorite thing to enjoy since his second operation is his girlfriend Melissa’s face.

Real Life Hero Spotlight: Angie Hartley, Missional Connections Advocate

Angie Hartley, today’s Real Life Hero, serves as the Missional Connections Advocate at The Salvation Army’s Temple Community Center in South St. Louis City, a job this six-generation Salvationist feels that she was born for.

“I have the perfect job. Every day, when people come to Temple [Community Center], I make sure they know that they’re welcome. I visit them in their homes, pray with them at the hospital, and work to make sure that if they have needs, we are connecting them with the resources and programs we have available to help them. I never want someone to feel that they’ve been overlooked or forgotten,” said Angie Hartley, Missional Connections Advocate at the Temple Worship and Community Center in St. Louis.

The more than full time position requires Angie to work 6 to 7 days a week, caring for area clients and church members, a job that she is uniquely equipped to handle. Working daily with a very diverse population, many of whom are immigrants, Hartley communicates with clients and church members in English, Spanish and American Sign Language.

In addition to her many diverse responsibilities, Hartley long oversaw Temple’s backpack program, which allowed The Salvation Army to provide food for 16 local families who struggled to be able to feed their children outside of school meals. The program was recently discontinued due to lack of funding, but still remains a cause she is passionate about, and was one of her favorite projects.

“I’m getting paid to be me. I love to reach out and tell people about the love of Jesus,” says Hartley, “The Salvation Army got its start with people who felt the same way. In 1865, William Booth saw people were shunned, people who needed to be reach. He said, ‘We have to meet their needs – soup, soap and salvation,’ and that’s what we’re still doing today. They won’t hear the love of God in what we say if their stomach is growling.”

To learn more about how you can dig in and help in your community, visit The Salvation Army’s volunteer page to sign up for volunteer opportunities. For more information on the programs at The Salvation Army’s Temple Community Center, visit their site for schedules, updates and location information.

…But what can I do?

We meet people every day that love the work we do in St. Louis, but are never quite sure where they fit in or how they can contribute to our mission and keep up with their own hectic schedules. Right now, we have a way that almost everyone can contribute and truly make a difference. Now through October 16th, you can go to www.STLGrown.com and search for “Salvation Army” and vote for us 100x every day. The top winners of the Monsanto Grown contest will receive a grant of $5K, $10K or $15K toward a program of their choice.

This year, we have chosen our job training program at our Temple Community Center, which has become critical for the unemployed in the city of St. Louis. Watch this blog over the next few weeks for profiles of the individuals we are helping through this program and others at our locations throghout St. Louis.

We thank you in advance for your vote and hope to announce our win in the coming weeks!

“You like me, you really like me!”

We were absolutely honored to win the “Best New Public Works Project” from the Riverfront Times last week! Wanted to share this awesome video about our KaBoom build with Energizer! Thanks again to our partners in this project!

http://www.youtube.com/salarmystl#p/a/f/0/HuKiU2eIIJ4

 

Salvation Army Temple Corps: An essential partner in Benton Park West & surrounding neighborhoods

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Content Specialist, Midland Division

This August, families filled The Salvation Army Temple Worship and Community Center at 2740 Arsenal from just before 10 a.m. until early afternoon. Families from the surrounding neighborhoods in the Benton Park West area brought their children to receive a free satchel filled with school supplies, in preparation for the upcoming school year.

The event is one of many held at The Salvation Army’s Temple Community Center, to help better the lives of those around them. “The Salvation Army does a lot in Benton Park West and surrounding neighborhoods. They have a key into this community that a normal non-profit just doesn’t have. We consider them equal partners in what we do. That’s why we are here today to support them,” said Bill Byrd, of the Benton Park West Association.

The event was a one-stop shop for families looking for assistance. Benton Park West provided free lunch to all who attended, while Grace Hill offered parents information on their Head Start program, in addition to free books for the younger siblings of the school-aged children. Salvation Army social workers provided parents the opportunity to register for employment assistance programs, if needed.

Two mothers of young children offered their praise of The Salvation Army as they looked on while their children played. Shonda Selvy remarked, “Their involvement in this community helps a lot. Even outside of today’s event, my children always have programs and after-school activities they can participate in. The school supplies help children have something to start school with – that way they don’t have to walk in on their first day and be without.”

“And they help them with homework after school. That is so important,” said Antanina Valentine, whose children regularly participate in Temple activities, such as Sunbeams, a character-building program rooted in the scouting tradition.

The satchels, donated by Bags n’ More, were given to 450 children at the Back-to-School event and 550 more are expected to be distributed at area schools in the coming week, for a total of 950 satchels filled with supplies. The impressive total far surpasses their gift to the community in 2010.

Perhaps Antanina Valentine, whose children regularly participate in Temple activities summed it up best when she said, “Their programs are critical to Benton Park [West] – from the education services to the smaller things like movie night. It’s all family-oriented and it’s so important to this community.”

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