Tag Archives: illinois

Overcoming Temptations and Hardships

A Woman’s Journey to follow the Straight and Narrow Path

By: Bethany Williams, Midland Division

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

From a young age, Ashley Berigan (pictured right) has endured many hardships that have influenced who she is today. Her father died when she was only 14, and by the time she was 17, Ashley was surrounded with negative influences.

Partying constantly and abusing drugs and alcohol, Ashley found herself pregnant and homeless when she was just 19 years old. After her mother kicked her out of their house, Ashley was terrified and alone. She ended up finding comfort and shelter at The Salvation Army in Alton, Illinois.

“That was the first time I’ve ever been homeless,” says Ashley. “It was scary.” Living at the shelter, she went to counseling once a month and received hope from the people at The Salvation Army. Ashley soon realized that she personally was not in a good position to take care of a child, and ultimately decided to give her son up for adoption after he was born. After making this tough decision, Ashley realized that she needed to change.

“Life can get pretty scary,” says Ashley, “so I wanted to follow the straight and narrow path.”

Today, Ashley is 26 and has a variety of new positive interests that include watching scary movies, listening to music, taking pictures and creating artwork for her family. Ashley has completed an art course at Lewis and Clark Community College and will be taking a photography class in the fall. One of her favorite paintings she has created is featured on the left.

Staying sober and away from drugs, Ashley looks toward the future in hopes of getting married and starting a family.

“God is trying to tell me something. All of the people who have helped me have come into my life for a reason.”

Because of this, Ashley has found a desire to give back and help others by sharing the importance of surrounding themselves with positive people.

“I am grateful for what I have, ” says Ashley, “and I thank God everyday because I am lucky to be alive.”

To make a donation to The Salvation Army and support people like Ashley, please visit https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/midland/yesfund.

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Day of Unity Video – Joplin

One year ago this week, a tornado changed the lives of thousands in Joplin, and thousands more who gave of their time and heart to work toward rebuilding. It was a wonderful experience this week to take a break from the work and reflect on how far the community has come. We continue to be a driving force in the recovery there daily.

We hold this community in our hearts and prayers, and look forward to another year of even greater strides and impressive improvements.

Honor an Unsung Hero in Alton

Nominations being accepted for the Riverbend Unsung Hero Award

By: Laura Grainger

Every day there are people who serve the Alton Riverbend community and go unnoticed. You may live across the street from them. You see the hard work they give day in and day out. Here is your chance to give them some recognition. Nominate them for the Riverbend Unsung Hero Award.

The Unsung Hero Award will be given out at the upcoming Stand Up for Our Heroes event on April 27, 2012, at Lewis & Clark’s Hatheway Auditorium. This is going to be a night of clean comedy the entire family can enjoy. The Salvation Army Alton is partnering with Powerhouse Laughs to thank the unsung heroes of Alton and the Riverbend Area with the comedy of Rik Roberts, Darren Marlar and Dennis Tooley. Mark your calendar and plan to share the laughs and honor our local heroes! Several Awards will be given out during this event.

To nominate someone for the Riverbend Unsung Hero Award send their name and your explanation of why they deserve the award to The Salvation Army Alton, 525 Alby Street, Alton, IL 62002 or email your nomination to altonsa2011@gmail.com.

The Salvation Army, an international organization, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for 130 years in the St. Louis region. Nearly 350,000 people throughout Missouri and Southern Illinois receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services throughout the region. For more information, go to http://www.stlsalvationarmy.org.

Intentional Living

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

The Salvation Army’s Temple Worship & Community Center in South City is working to truly know every facet of the community in which they minister. The surrounding neighborhoods are marked by violence, high incidences of drug use, school dropouts, teen pregnancy and marked poverty.

When several buildings being used for transitional housing across the street lost their funding, a new program was developed to better serve the community. The 11-units owned by The Salvation Army became difficult to upkeep without funding, so they had to be sold or repurposed.

The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander Major Lonneal Richardson worked with Envoys Steve and Ketsia Diaz of Temple and decided the best use of the buildings would be to use several of them for an urban ministry program. In this program, called the Intentional Living Program, Christian individuals with a heart for leadership can live in the units rent-free in exchange for donating their time and talents to The Salvation Army and other neighborhood efforts.

Upon launching the program, the envoys moved their family into one of the units so they could become more effectively ingrained in their community.

“Without living among the people you serve, it’s difficult to effectively minister to them, especially if you’re driving in every day from the suburbs,” said John Aho, Community Partnerships and Program Development Director for Temple.

Aho, the children of Salvation Army pastors who often served in inner-city churches, came to St. Louis to serve in the Intentional Living Program as an unpaid volunteer. “Jesus came into the world and experienced it, and lived among the people. This program allows us to experience the same challenges our friends, clients and soldiers face every day. Instead of dictating principles from on high, you do it from their level, where they live – where you live,” said Aho.

The program continues to grow and has created a unique bond between the neighborhood and The Salvation Army. “With the additional Christ-centered community-focused volunteers we now have at our fingertips, we have been able to work more hands-on with schools, neighborhood associations, arts organizations, local businesses and other non-profits to strengthen the community. Those of us who are in the program are essentially good role models, planting seeds in the community among the youth. We are showing the kids that you don’t have to quit school. You don’t have to get married young. There is another option.”

As a result of the Intentional Program’s intensive neighborhood focus, Temple recently received a Thomas Lyle Williams Grant and matching funds from the Dana Brown Charitable Foundation which will allow them to fund a CHOICES program, allowing neighborhood adults and children to come to the community center to take elective courses that will broaden their horizons, helping to stimulate interests that may lead to future career choices – such as sound engineering, dance and drama.

“We are doing big things in Benton Park West and the surrounding communities,” said Aho, “and we are actively recruiting for more people to join us in our work.”

Those with a heart for leadership interested in giving a year or more to an inner city neighborhood, offering hope to the hopeless and help to the hurting are encouraged to reach out to John Aho at 314.771.3460 for more information on the Intentional Living program, or visit www.sastlouistemple.org for more information.

Motorcycles of a Mission

By: Major K. Kendall Mathews

In the midst of the recovery efforts in Harrisburg, Ill, a group of motorcycle men and women came wheeling into the Harrisburg Thrift Store parking lot ready to give back to this hurting community.  Not just any motor club, but one with a mission in line with The Salvation Army, with their colors being red, yellow and blue,  called, “Soldiers of Truth in God’s Army.”  On the outside they looked just any other motorcycle club, but their inner calling and spiritual mission is to reach the lost for Jesus Christ through worship to God and service to society. This Motorcycle Ministry set them apart from all the others clubs I have ever seen. I quickly came to understand that they indeed been commissioned by God to do His work whenever and wherever needed.  Harrisburg, Ill was their next stop to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with a hand to man and heart to God.

I must say I was moved to see them in action, not just clearing out a trailer full of clothes and household items, but their actions were God-driven and Christ-like. My eyes were opened in different way and my spirit connected to them. No questions were asked beyond “What can we do to help The Salvation Army help the Harrisburg victim’s?” This is just the type of servant-leadership that is so desperately needed during disasters. This group offered themselves as sacrificial servants ready to give to others wholeheartedly.  Their actions scaled my attention to the Bible verse in Romans 12:1, which says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Their hands and hearts became those of Jesus Christ through the faithful service. They revealed to me that we must honor others above ourselves with compassionate and serviceable affection to those undergoing a catastrophes event.

The President and Pastor of this ministry said to me, “Everything God gives is a tool to help people.” He called what they were doing a parking lot ministry. Their Bibles were out and their prayers being lifted up to people stopping by to drop off their donations. People welcomed these Christly riders, not night riders, as soldiers of Jesus, and reminded them that we march together with the blood and the fire and to the ends of the earth we will go. What a great blessing it was to see their salvation being lived out through helping others. Their pastor was right when he said, “It takes us all to be the body of Christ to the broken lives of those impacted by this tornado.” At one point, he preached to me of the goodness of God and the love we should have for one another regardless of cultural differences. “Unconditional love for God and sacrificial service for man,” he said “is the key that must bind us together.” I then finished that statement by saying, “with cords that cannot be broken.”

This motorcycle ministry, Soldiers of God’s Truth, has some shady past with drug abuse at the top of the list, but they are like me and you, sinners saved by the grace of God.  “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted; but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” II Corinthians 4:8. Although they have been knocked down by the world and sin, like all of us, in Christ, they are not knocked out. We serve a God of second chances, who will not give up on us, but who loves us during this journey of life here on earth.  Even during times of hardship and humiliation, God loves us all.

The Pastor, a gospel preacher for sure, told me that their mission Bible verse comes from John 14:6 that says, “Jesus said him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes the Father, but by me.’”  He pointed out the word “truth” and that it is the Word of God that will set people free.  “Not his words,” he said, “but God’s Word found in the Bible. Since God set his rider free, He indeed has the power to free all people from sin.”

These Soldiers of Truth in God’s Army renewed my hope in the Lord.  As I fellowshipped and served with them that sunny Saturday afternoon, God revealed Himself through this Motorcycle Ministry. I then taught them the song which says, “We are soldiers in the army; we have to fight although we have to die; we have to hold up the blood stained banner, we have to hold it until we die.”  This battle cry became our united theme of service.  I am sure God smiled, or even laughed at us as we sang that song in the parking lot of the Harrisburg, Ill Thrift Store.

These motorcycle soldiers not only ride for righteousness, but they are a church as well, called “Warehouse of Worship.” According to the pastor and the other Christ Riders, they worship Jesus in spirit and in TRUTH through service to others, the gospel of Jesus is preached and part of their daily lifestyle. They not only read the Bible as their manual for Christly living, but they worship together to bring glory to God as a community of believers.  I was very much honored to be in their presence and although I was not a Christly bike rider, we worship the same savior Jesus Christ.  It also helped that we share the same colors, red, yellow and blue, in addition to being SOLDIERS.

So, the next time you see or hear a motorcycle think of, “The Soldiers of Truth in God’s Army,” and remember their ministry of saving the lost, the least, and the last without fear knowing that God will provide for your every need.  “Fear, not, for I am with you; be not dismissed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvation Army work continues as Branson, Harrisburg Brace for Friday’s Storms

The Salvation Army continues to provide much-needed assistance to those in Branson, Missouri and Harrisburg, Illinois in response to Wednesday’s tornadoes damaging storms, standing ever-vigilant with those communities in the face of Friday’s storms.

Branson

As the Branson-area disaster relief efforts progress and change, so too does The Salvation Army’s response in meeting the immediate needs of the community.  Currently, The Salvation Army is focused primarily on providing food, water and spiritual care from the mobile feeding units, or canteens.

Crews from Joplin and Springfield handled preparation and delivery of meals as part of a coordinated effort with the local chapter of The American Red Cross to meet local needs.

On Thursday, the Salvation Army served 364 meals, 502 drinks and 679 snacks in the Branson area. At this time, additional volunteers for The Salvation Amy’s Branson-area relief efforts are not needed. However, it’s likely that many volunteers will be needed in the coming days to assist with clean-up at the Branson Corps.

Harrisburg

Work continues on the ground in Harrisburg, IL with Captain Heath Sells as the Incident Commander in this relief effort. On Thursday 506 survivors, first responders and volunteers were served with 763 drinks, 405 meals and 302 snacks.

Divisional Commander Major Lonneal Richardson visited Harrisburg on Thursday, meeting with survivors to pray and provide them with grocery vouchers and other forms of assistance.

The Salvation Army in Harrisburg continues to coordinate with other relief agencies and government entities to ensure the most necessary needs are met.

Continued emergency relief efforts are expected in that area for several more days, with long term case management to follow

How You Can Help

Help provide immediate help by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by visiting http://www.STLSalvationArmy.org to make a secured donation by credit card. Please mail checks to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 21787 St. Louis MO 63109 – designate your gift by writing “Storm Relief” on the check. Mobile and Smartphone users can text the word ARCH to 80888 to make an instant $10 donation

Please remember that due to the high expense and amount of time often associated with delivering in-kind gifts, such as gently-used household items and clothing, The Salvation Army cannot guarantee at this time that any individual donated gifts-in-kind will be sent to the disaster area. During times of disaster, The Salvation Army is able to meet the need for these items from the store’s existing, pre-sorted stock. Therefore, by continuing to donate gently-used household goods to your local Salvation Army thrift store, you not only help your local community, you help us prepare for future disaster relief needs. To locate your nearest Salvation Army drop-off location, please visit http://www.satruck.org.

Leap Day Storm Relief Continues

The Salvation Army canteen was on the move prior to sunrise in Harrisburg, Illinois Thursday morning.

In the wake of the Leap Day storms that tore through Kansas, Missouri and Illinois Tuesday and Wednesday, Salvation Army disaster crews responded swiftly to aid first responders and survivors in affected areas.

Crews in Branson focused primarily on meeting immediate needs of those most heavily damaged areas of Branson, along Highway 76. A canteen crew provided snacks, drinks and meals to survivors, first responders and clean-up crews. A Salvation Army canteen is presently feeding those affected at the Branson Mall parking lot. Branson’s Mayor Presley visited the canteen and publicly thanked The Salvation Army for their response in the wake of the storms on her Twitter page.

In Harrisburg, Illinois, approximately 100 homes – about forty percent of the city – were affected, and there were six confirmed fatalities. The Salvation Army was at work as quickly as possible in this remote area, and served hot meals at the Walmart on South Commercial Road, to first responders and those affected. Food was provided by a local school where it had already been prepared for the school day. The canteen was back in action at sunrise on Thursday morning.

The city of Harrisburg has requested that The Salvation Army take charge of feeding those displaced by the storm and first responders, while the American Red Cross provides shelter.

Additional efforts are being undertaken in Kimberling City, Missouri, which is dealing with a water crisis after their water distribution tower sustained significant damage.

For the latest, visit www.stlsalvationarmy.org, or follow us on Twitter!

Have Hope and Be Holy

By: Captain AmyJo Ferguson, O’Fallon (MO) Community Center

1 Peter 1: 13 – 2: 3

Last year at The Salvation Army food pantry in O’Fallon, MO, about 25 to 35 families would come in every month.  This year, that number has increased to 250 to 350 families each month.  It is a sad statistic, one which my husband and I share a lot.  Without fail everyone blames the economy.  While the lack of jobs, the loss of retirement accounts, and the inability to pay off creditors is certainly partly to blame, I have seen another thing.  The food pantry used to be a place of last resort, a place that folks only visited after every other resource was expended, because there was always the hope that things would get better.  Folks would let their cupboards dwindle to nothingness, cut down on meals, spend money reserved for other bills on food because in just a few days, with just the next paycheck, things would get better.  Things were always bound to get better.  Today, this is not true.  For many of our clients, the food pantry is a regular weekly or monthly visit, a part life, because things are not going to get better.  The job will never be found.  The hours lost will never come back.  The bills never seem to get paid.  Although I am not sure we can quantify this so easily, it would seem that the food shelf has experienced a tenfold increase in need because there has been a tenfold decrease in hope.

It occurs to me that the same thing often happens in our Christian walk. We lose hope and as a result, we are not willing to give our all:  unwilling to share Christ with one more person because so many others have not listened, unwilling to give a tithe because we might not have enough left over for our needs, unwilling to take on any other responsibility because we might get burned out.  What’s the matter with us?  We have lost our hope:  the hope that God will be true and faithful to his promises.

Unfortunately, it is during these times of uncertainty and trouble that hope is even more important.  Peter wrote to people like us, people who were not sure what tomorrow would bring.  To those people, he said, “set your hope fully” (1 Peter 1: 13), hope perfectly, hope to the very end.    This was not a polite suggestion or a devotional thought thrown out to his readers.  It was an imperative, a command.  Do not doubt.  Do not waiver.  Hope.  Hope like a child who goes to bed on Christmas Eve with the absolutely certainty that Santa Clause will have arrived by morning.  Hope like the bride who stands at the back entrance of the church knowing that her groom awaits her in the front.  Peter is talking about a brave hope, a hope that creates action.  This is hope founded upon the assurance of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Since he has saved our very souls, how could he ever let us down?

When we possess this kind of hope, it allows us to throw ourselves with abandon upon Jesus’ promises and to be the Holy people that God wills us to be.  Allow me to be bold here, because Peter certainly was.  If we are people of God, people with an eternal hope, then Holy people need not fear the next step, whatever next step God may be asking us to take:  feeding ten times the number of people that we fed a year ago, witnessing to a friend, giving whatever amount God has laid on our heart to give, agreeing to a new ministry.  Just as Peter challenged his readers to “love one another deeply” (1: Peter 1: 22) and “rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” (1 Peter 2: 1); God is challenging us today.  Will we meet those challenges with a sort of resignation that we will do merely what we can or what we must? Or, will we step forward boldly and declare our hope to the world?

Using Your Gifts to Give Back

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Volunteers assemble a basketball hoop outside the O'Fallon homeless shelter.

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

The Salvation Army is doing BIG thing in the St. Louis area and we need your help! From providing shelter to the homeless, to tutoring children in after-school programs that keep them in school and off the streets, we work hard to continue DOING THE MOST GOOD every day, but because we work so diligently to use our resources wisely, we are dependent on the time and money donations of our volunteers and donors to carry out our mission.

Here are some ways we can put you to work in 2012:

  • Do you have a gift for teaching or tutoring? Our shelters and corps community centers are always looking for tutors.
  • Can you paint or draw? Come brighten up our youth spaces with your pictures!
  • Are your gifts in the area of manual labor? We can use your talents in repairing facilities and maintaining our grounds.
  • Are you a foodie who finds cooking therapeutic? We can put you to work in one of our kitchens – and our clients will be glad to enjoy your gourmet fare!
  • Is fitness your passion? Our Gateway community center is looking for ongoing volunteers to host aerobics classes, or to teach sporting leagues.
  • Are you professionally successful in your field and want to share your story with teens considering their career options?
  • Are you an accountant? We can pair you with senior citizens to assist with taxes.
  • Do you sing or play an instrument? We have several corps in need of musicians to play at worship services. We always need musicians

In short – whatever your gift may be, we can put you to work doing good in the St. Louis area – and we welcome your partnership. Reach out and let us put you to work doing good today!

12 Months of Giving

We were inspired by a great idea from Jenni Ragland, Associate Director of the Community Relations Department at The Salvation Army Alaska Divisional Headquarters. She created a 12 Months of Giving calendar which listed a new way to give back to Alaska communities each month of the year.

“It’s received a very positive response here! A local TV station prompted the idea by asking about how people could keep the spirit of giving alive through the year”, she said. “One of our Board members that owns a print shop is printing buck slips for each month that we can have to mail or hand out.”

Want to check it out? Click Here for Jenni’s Calendar!

We liked her idea so much, we decided to create a 12 Months of Giving calendar that can be used by anyone. Keep the Christmas spirit alive all year long and check it out (thanks again, Jenni!):

January: The Salvation Army loves re-gifting! As you clean out to make room for gifts received at Christmas, remember The Salvation Army Family Stores need your gently used clothing, household goods or cars to support the Adult Rehabilitation Program, as well as other Salvation Army services.

February: The coldest month of the year means those without coats are those with the most need. Consider sorting through your coat closet and parting with the unworn – somebody will be very thankful for your donation! With more than 12 sites in metro St. Louis, The Salvation Army can certainly find someone in need. Call us to see where you can deliver your donation at (314) 646-3018 or visit http://www.stlsalvationarmy.org to find your nearest location.

March: Adult residents in Salvation Army Transitional Housing have a variety of needs based on their circumstances. Your in-kind donations certainly help them through this tough time. Common donations include: toiletries, bedding, pillows, gift certificates for food, plates, silverware, clothing and toys.

April: April showers bring…well, flooding! We pray that natural disasters don’t happen, but if they do, The Salvation Army is almost always among the first to respond. By visiting our “Ways to Give” section on our website, you can designate your donation to a specific disaster campaign, helping those who are struggling in the aftermath of natural disasters.

May: Give back in small ways during National Salvation Army week, May 7-13! Click here for a number of ideas as to how you can “Do the Most Good” for everyone in your life during this week and beyond.

June: Send a kid to camp! Salvation Army summer camps offer fresh air, exercise and new friendships to children from low-income families. By donating $175, you can ensure a fun-filled week of sports, camping, arts & crafts, music development and many more adventures, for someone who would otherwise miss out.

July: Donate food! With school out for the summer, we see an increased number of families that need food assistance at Salvation Army food pantries. Help stock our shelves by organizing a canned food drive.

August: It’s back-to-school time! Help disadvantaged children in your community return to school with the right tools for success and confidence in the classroom. Donations include school supplies, backpacks and clothes. Find out what your local Salvation Army needs and then hit up the store to help out a local family in need!

September: School has officially started and Salvation Army afterschool programs will be looking for tutors and volunteers! Lend a couple hours after school, an ear and a helping hand to a child in need.

October: There are many homeless families enrolled in Salvation Army Family Service programs and who reside in temporary or long-term housing because of financial struggles. Consider lifting their spirits through gifts or basic necessities.

November: Ensure a disadvantaged child or senior experiences Christmas joy by adopting an angel through The Salvation Army’s Angel Giving Tree program.

December: Donate your spare change and say Merry Christmas to your local Red Kettle bell ringer! Interested in volunteering your time? Sign up as a volunteer bell ringer through your local Salvation Army unit.

Happy Giving, Everyone!

Reposted from Salvation Army USA blog.

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