Community Conversations - The Salvation Army

Oct 30, 2020

Part of HYPE’s mission is to help young professionals become better engaged in community life, expand professional and social opportunities, and become ambassadors for the Hartford Region. HYPE encourages cross-collaboration among agencies and organizations that offer opportunities to volunteer in the community. The Community Conversations series focuses on interviewing professionals in a local nonprofit to bring awareness to their mission, highlight their impact in the community, and provide information on how to get more involved with the organization. For the October edition of  the blog, Community Involvement Committee member Janine Belsky interviewed Rachel Cline, Divisional Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations and Katie Perrett, Divisional Volunteer Coordinator, at The Salvation Army.

What is the mission of your organization?

The official mission statement of The Salvation Army is: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Here’s some further background on the organization and interpretation of the mission from Rachel and Katie:

The Salvation Army is a church first and a non-profit organization second.  Although its intention was to be a church (and still is today), it is also an organization that meets basic human needs without discrimination.  You may know The Salvation Army for their thrift stores – maybe you or your family have donated clothes to them.  But that is only one of the many services they provide.  They meet human needs through a variety of programs, including homeless shelters, food pantries, providing emergency financial SA Blog 3assistance, disaster relief services, alcohol and drug rehabilitation services, and a wide range of other social services all over the globe.

The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth in 1865 in England. As a minister himself, he saw how great the need was in his surrounding community and decided to launch a street ministry. He wanted to feed the hungry, shelter the poor, and be in the “nitty gritty” of it all.  Soup, Soap and Salvation was Booth’s mission and so began The Salvation Army.  Today, The Salvation Army exists in over 130 countries and serves around 23 million Americans annually.

What is your role within the organization?

Katie is the Divisional Volunteer Coordinator serving the Southern New England Division, covering CT and RI.  She helps recruit, train, and manage volunteers for both general and specific programs at The Salvation Army, such as emergency disaster services and anti-human trafficking programs.  The organization is always looking for volunteers and Katie recruits through social media, radio interviews, and various local community groups.  Katie works directly with both individuals and companies seeking to volunteer.  She has people who come back every year to volunteer and even knows some who have been volunteering for 30/40/50 years! 

Rachel is the Divisional Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations.  She is primarily responsible for building relationships with corporate and foundation partners.  In this capacity she also oversees a team of grant writers that pursue public and private funds for Salvation Army programs. While The Salvation Army has long standing relationships with many corporations, Rachel is dedicated to building more robust and impactful partnerships with businesses small and large throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island. This includes providing more and creative opportunities for employee engagement, especially at Christmas time (check out #5 for more info on this!).   

How do you implement your services or programs?

The Salvation Army is active in nearly every zip code because of the way it is structured. The main hubs for Salvation Army outreach are its Community Worship Centers (also called a “Corps”). There are 21 Community Worship Centers throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island today – each of them managed by a Salvation Army pastor (or “Corps Officer”) who assesses community needs and works with Salvation Army staff and volunteers to implement programs that address them. 

SA Blog 2Some of the current Salvation Army programs that are operating in Connecticut and Rhode Island include homeless shelters for men and women, adult rehabilitation centers, human trafficking outreach, providing social services to the elderly and emergency funds to those struggling to pay for rent, gas, or electricity.  All Salvation Army locations have their doors open to anyone in need.

Another program provided by The Salvation Army is a free summer youth camp, “Camp CONNRI”. Camp CONNRI is a week-long overnight camp for kids ages 7-12. At Camp CONNRI, youth can enjoy activities like swimming, boating, nature hikes, sports, theater and much more. Camp CONNRI is in Ashford, CT and typically serves over 700 youth each summer. This past summer, due to the pandemic, the camp was done virtually, but the hope is for camp to return to its normal operation by summer 2021.

In what ways has your organization been impactful to your cause?

At the start of COVID, many of The Salvation Army’s programs came to a halt, but they put their energy and resources where it was needed most: food security. They created hubs and mass-produced emergency food boxes to last 30-35 meals. They utilized their partnerships with companies to aid in the production of these boxes as well.  Since March, The Salvation Army has provided 2 million meals throughout CT and RI in response to the pandemic. 

Because The Salvation Army is already so ingrained within the communities it serves, they were well-positioned to meet the needs of the towns they serve quickly and effectively when the pandemic began.

The Salvation Army is known for being one of the world’s largest and most dependable humanitarian organizations. They are a beacon of hope in our world today – serving as a safety net of support, help and love for anyone in need. 

How does someone get more involved?

Remember seeing those people dressed as Santa standing outside the grocery store and ringing a bell with a red kettle bucket?  They’re volunteers for The Salvation Army!  As we head into the Christmas Season, The Salvation Army is looking for bell ringers once again (no Santa costume required!)  and while many are unsure of participating in a safe way, rest assured, The Salvation Army has guidelines in place to make sure that volunteers and donors stay safe.  

If volunteers are looking for other ways to serve, there are everyday volunteer opportunities like helping in a food pantry, providing administrative assiSA Blogstance, hosting a virtual fundraiser and more! There are also volunteer training programs for the organizations’ emergency disaster services and anti-human trafficking programs, for those looking to get further involved in those areas specifically.

Finally, if you are looking to help in a very practical sense, consider holding a food or toy drive at work or with friends/family to gather non-perishable food items for a holiday meal or put toys under the tree for a child who may not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season. 

If you would like to find out more about current volunteer opportunities at The Salvation Army, you may click here and complete a one-time volunteer profile.  Once your profile is complete, Katie will be in contact with you.

Additionally, The Salvation Army is looking for opportunities to educate more groups like HYPE about the services they provide.  If you or your organization would like to learn more about The Salvation Army by having Rachel or Katie come speak at your next event, please email Rachel or email Katie.

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