Bishop touches lives
BREAKFAST IS SERVED at the Bishop High School 24-Hour Relay on Sunday morning; the Bishop Lions Club donated the cooking trailor and the Bishop Rotary Club did the cooking.
The Salvation Army in Bishop, Calif., maintains a busy service extension unit, meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the community. Bishop lies within Inyo County, the second largest county in the U.S.—several eastern states put together could fit inside its borders. Despite its size, its population is only about 18,000. The Eastern Sierra and Death Valley are located here, and many visitors to the area pass through the small town of Bishop (population 3,600).
In March 2000 The Salvation Army established the service extension in Bishop. Since that time, led by directors Dwaine and Debbie Breazeale, the ministry has grown from an 800 square foot storefront building to a ministry center of around 4,000 square feet. The scope of the ministry has also grown. In 1999 the ministry began with a food pantry serving 4,600 clients. Today, services include the Cup of Cold Water Food Pantry, the Neighborhood Clothes Closet, the Abounding Love Pregnancy Resource Center, and social services that helped over 12,000 clients last year. In addition, each week about 50 people attend the chapel services offered at the center.
The community is very involved with the center’s activities. Breazeale states, “We have 57 volunteers who regularly work in the food pantry and clothes closet, 13 trained volunteers working in the pregnancy resource center, and 53 volunteers who have received Red Cross training in Introduction to Disasters, Mass Care, Shelter Management, and Frail and Elderly in Disasters. We have completely refurbished our canteen, and the local Bishop Amateur Radio Club meets here at our facility each month—four of their members have joined S.A.T.E.R.N. (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network).
The Abounding Love Pregnancy Resource Center provides free pregnancy testing and counseling for about four to five clients each month. “Not all the pregnancies are teenage,” explains Breazeale. “Our first client was a middle-aged woman whose other children were much older. This pregnancy was unplanned and she had many concerns and difficulties with the pregnancy, but today she has a very healthy two-year-old girl.” Currently four clients are pregnant; one is expecting any day now. The center also provides baby furniture, diapers and formula, and offers parenting classes. Because the center is a warm and non-institutional environment, Inyo County Child Protective Services uses the facility for interviews of young children who may have been abused.
Several community groups meet at the center, including Narcotics Anonymous three days a week, AlaTeen each Wednesday, and Gamblers Anonymous each Thursday.
Throughout the year the center conducts outreaches, at holidays and at community events. Currently they are preparing for the annual Community Easter Egg Hunt—about 500 children and their families are expected.