2012 National Social Services and Disaster Management Conference begins in Arizona
Triennial national conference held this year in the West
Alongside baseball’s spring training in Glendale, Ariz., the 2012 National Social Services and Disaster Management Conference (NSSDMC) began with a welcome banquet—the “season opener.” Roughly 600 delegates are in the Western Territory to become “Ready for Mission, Equipped for Service.”
The evening’s announcers, jersey-clad at the KTSA sports desk, included Major Betty Israel, national social services secretary; Lt. Col. Joe Poscillico, Southwest divisional commander; and Major Darryl Leedom, national director for public policy and liaison for Emergency Disaster Services.
A baseball theme flowed through the evening’s program, including a rendition of the national anthem and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the “seventh inning stretch.”
Three former addicts testified to the power of The Salvation Army in his/her life.
Captain Erin Kauffman was a cocktail waitress and addicted to cocaine, but now serves as an officer in The Salvation Army. “The wonderful thing about Salvation Army social services is that we are the hands and feet of Jesus, compelled to change people’s lives,” she said.
Felipe Gonzales was a mariachi singer and also addicted to cocaine before he was arrested, a “rescue” as he calls it and has now been clean for six years. He sang in Spanish about the floods that came but could not wash away the house built on the rock.
Jeff Taylor retired as a wealthy Wall Street securities trader at 29, but by 33 he was living under a bush on the streets of Phoenix. He began committing crimes to maintain his drug addiction, and went in and out of jail before a judge mandated him to the Phoenix Harbor Light. “I felt a sense of relief when I arrived, like I’d come home,” he said. Taylor went on to influence legislation in Arizona that releases nonviolent inmates 90 days early for treatment.
The Southwest Divisional Band, Southwest Division Youth Singing Company and the Glendale Deer Valley High School Drum Line performed.
Following dinner, a grand opening of the exhibit hall featured the nearly 100 conference exhibitors.
Over the next four days, NSSDMC delegates will attend workshops and networking sessions focused on the Army’s practical response to human need. Exhibitors and program tours will exemplify its mission and work.
“Most importantly,” Commissioner William Roberts, national commander of the Army in the U.S., writes in the conference welcome letter,” the paramount goal is to refine skills and deepen commitment for the life-changing work in which The Salvation Army is engaged.”
Follow our updates throughout the conference at newfrontierpublications.org.