The Salvation Army is where I did my service hours. I am an inquisitive person by nature, so before I stepped foot onto the Salvation Army of Jonesboro Arkansas, I spent a few hours researching the establishment, their services, and directly how they affect the lives in the community of Jonesboro. Interestingly enough I found that they have more than 15 different services available to service the community. From camping activities to worship services, for men and women of all ages. The mission statement for the Salvation Army as a whole 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.” I was raised fairly religious, but as I grew up I made my own decisions about religion and my faith. Despite my personal beliefs I can fully support this mission statement. I loved how the salvation army mentions meeting the human needs “without discrimination,” This is an important aspect to me because unlike some outreach and community programs that are geared to a specific demographic the Salvation Army is for those in need no matter the race, religion, or the condition.
The next set of information I found on the Salvation Army, that pegged my interest further was: how they do, what they do. Directly quoted from their websites they begin by assessing the need of each community in which they service. They work to understand the “obstacles, hardships, and challenges native to the area’s particular population”. Secondly, the Salvation Army takes the information they gathered and begin building local programs. These programs are “designed to offer immediate relief, short-term care, and long-term growth in the areas that will best benefit the community”. Lastly, the Salvation army reinvests in to the community in which they are servicing. They do this by “offering the local programs to the local community, working to continually optimize their efficacy via spiritual, physical, and emotional service”. This straight forward thinking and approach I really appreciate. I believe this is how most if not everyone confronts their own personal obstacle in this same way.
After looking into how the Salvation Army meets the needs of the various communities it serves, I decided to look further into the needs of the people in Jonesboro. I found on Data USA’s website that the poverty rate is near 22%. That information is surprising to me that close to a quarter of this city’s population is on or below the poverty line. These people’s basic needs are not met, and I can see how the Salvation Army can positively affect their lives. With the state that our government is in now, in we need more than ever, entity’s like the Salvation Army. With a growing population the needs for the Salvation Army will only increase.
I feel so lucky to have been able to volunteer at the Salvation Army. My expectations were not high. I thought I would volunteer my few hours a day, and I did not expect to gain much from this. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. My very first visit I was greeted at the door by two small children. I was surprised how excited they were running around tagging each other and playing. Their dad came up quickly behind them and he introduced himself to me, and I to him. He went on to ask why I was coming to the Salvation Army, and I explained to volunteer. He told me he and his son’s come every week to the worship services on Sundays. However, during the week they come and drop off clothes his sons can no longer wear, canned or any nonperishable foods he has for the food pantry. I was impressed because I did not know that people around Jonesboro really supported the Salvation Army. He went on to explain that he volunteers and helps as much as he can with the Salvation Army because he used to be homeless living in shelters where the Salvation Army would come deliver food to the shelters. From my first time visiting I met more and more people with similar stories. The workers at the Salvation Army were kind and welcoming each time I arrived. I helped with sorting the food in the food pantry on my second visit. In the food pantry, is where I met a woman who told me she helps out in all the different programs the Salvation Army has to offer, including: worship services, the store, women’s ministries, youth church, and rehabilitation programs. She told me she helps out with most of the programs and itself in general because of the amazing impact the Salvation Army has had on her life personally. She explained that when she was growing up her mother was in and out of rehab facilities, she says when her mother became involved with the Salvation Army her life turned completely around. I was fortunate enough during my life personally to not be affected by such harsh conditions. I have always found that my life was more comfortable than my peers, we were not millionaires, but my family was provided for and comfortable. However, my parents consistently instilled in all of their children the power of paying it forward. My siblings and I always make an effort to try to volunteer, but often times fall short. I feel as though sometimes volunteering is difficult when you cannot see the direct effects of your work being done. While that is now shameful to say I am sure I was not the only person who felt this way. I have now experienced meeting with people who had direct support from the entity I was volunteering with and while it felt amazing. I realize how many people I did not get to meet that the Salvation Army supports every day. I met a college student on one of my visits to the Salvation Army she was raised in a well-off family not like my own. She moved to Jonesboro to go to Arkansas State. She told me her parents supported her completely until half way through her freshman year she found out she was pregnant. Unfortunately, her parents stopped supporting her immediately. She was distraught and after her first lease was up she had no where else to turn. She told me of her struggles to find clothes and things for her baby. She became connected with the employees at the Salvation Army and they helped her out a lot. Without discrimination these strangers supported her without hesitation.
I believe that a greater community effort to better supplement the needs that the Salvation Army may have, to better fill the needs of the community is a cycle that needs to begin. I am sure there are people who want to help but don’t know where to begin. I would like to implement a better promotion for donations, volunteers, and fundraising. If the people of the city of Jonesboro, around 72 thousand people, were made aware of the struggles that people in their own backyard face every day they would better be able to support facilities trying to offer aids for these people. Sustaining the many things the Salvation Army does to aid in the lives of so many local residents can become financially, and physically a burden to those who work for the Salvation Army. My programs that I would love to look more into would be hosting events where people like those I met who were so positively affected by the people of the Salvation Army, could have a platform to share their stories. As this semester comes to an end I hope that I can gather enough of my friends up to help out at the Salvation Army as well, and I hope they can see what I saw there. I hope that the positive impact the Salvation Army had on my life I can carry that over and impact others as well.
I took what I learned from the Salvation Army: empathy, caring, and non-discriminatory support into my own life. Since leaving the Salvation Army, for my required hours, I have been there several times to make donations and to volunteer. I also have carried out the views that the Salvation Army supports in other various ways. I have since visited with the people of the consolidated youth services as well. I’ve taken up donations from several of my friends and taken them to the shelter. I understand my personal efforts are not making the biggest impact, but I do believe my work and influencing others can bring a positive change to Jonesboro, the kind of change the Salvation Army is trying to do as well. The city of Jonesboro is very fortunate to have a place like this were people who need these supports can get them.