COVID-19 Salvation Army command updates: March 27

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Western Territorial Commander Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder held a teleconference meeting March 27 with members of the Territorial Executive Council, the eighth of such meetings regarding The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19

After a roll call of command heads, Hodder shared several announcements before asking Secretary for Spiritual Life Development Colonel Colleen Riley to report on next week’s Day of Prayer and Fasting. Riley said this event will take place, with modifications. Although there will not be a group meeting, topics for prayer will be provided. At the top of each hour, participants are asked to stop what they’re doing and pray. 

Hodder announced the following cancellations: Service Corps 2020, Brengle Institute (for officers) and the National Seminar on Holiness (now being planned for 2021). Service Corps members might have the opportunity to work at Salvation Army summer camps. 

Territorial and divisional staff will receive a COVID-19 fact sheet March 27, which provides a brief summary of what The Salvation Army is doing, from the Territorial Headquarters Community Relations Department. 

Finally, Hodder said these briefings will follow the same schedule next week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Three commands reported: Southwest, the Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) and the College for Officer Training (CFOT). Additionally, Silvercrest Executive Director Susan Lawrence reported on the Silvercrest residences.

Southwest Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Kelly Pontsler reported that The Salvation Army is working with local officials to open up all the available space at the Las Vegas Owens Campus for people in need. In addition, they’ve been asked if they can make available for quarantine the 32-bed building formerly used for the women’s ARC; this will be handled separately from providing emergency beds. In total, about 600 beds will be available at the campus. The Las Vegas Owens Campus has always worked closely with its neighbor, Catholic Charities, which has closed its shelter; the Army has taken on 90 individuals from there. 

In Phoenix, The Salvation Army is working with the city to find a way to provide separate shelter for homeless clients aged 65 or older; there are about 75 such individuals and the hope is to isolate them more since they are at greater risk for COVID-19. 

The Phoenix Kroc Center will open March 30 as a daycare center for children of first responders, primarily medical personnel. The center will be able to care for 20 children. 

Pontsler said the division is preparing for what will happen in a couple of months when the stays on evictions are lifted and people begin coming to The Salvation Army for rental assistance. She said they expect a flood of requests and want to plan ahead. Finally, retired officers have been enlisted to make wellness calls to senior-aged donors, and weekly Zoom calls are taking place with all the division’s officers to touch base and offer support and encouragement.

Adult Rehabilitation Center Commander Major Henry Graciani reported that the ARCs are no longer doing intakes. Fortunately, the centers have not seen any cases of COVID-19 among the beneficiaries and regular cleanings have been increased. While some centers have had a few beneficiaries leave the program, other centers are still at 100 percent capacity. 

ARC programming continues with modifications to ensure participants’ safety. The Fresno (California) ARC has set up virtual counseling sessions via Skype, and at the Pasadena (California) ARC, counselors and sponsors have private rooms available for Zoom meetings. Pasadena also has scrubs available. Since these are in high demand, Hodder asked Graciani to contact John Berglund, Emergency Disaster Services Director, regarding how they can best be used. 

The Anaheim (California) ARC is converting its store to a shelter; the Santa Ana (California) Family Store has converted to a shelter and beneficiaries are helping pack food boxes. The Director of Retail Operations in Denver is working full-time for the Intermountain Division EDS and the women beneficiaries there are packing food boxes. The Riverside (California) ARC is assisting with EDS services.

CFOT Principal Major Nigel Cross reported that the cadets continue to assist California South EDS, serving from San Luis Obispo to San Diego including Torrance, L.A. Red Shield, Orange County and Santa Monica. They are primarily sorting, packing and distributing food to the community, particularly to seniors. A revolving cadet team is also working at Bell Shelter, moving equipment and sorting supplies; three cadets are licensed forklift operators. 

The officers on campus are assisting with food delivery and care for the families there, especially those with children. In addition, they’ve made deliveries of food and toilet paper to the six Silvercrest residences in the California South Division. Meanwhile, the College continues to retool and move all its instruction online so classes can resume April 13.

“I am constantly astonished at the number of things that the cadets are doing,” Hodder said. “The energy and enthusiasm of the cadets is always palpable.”

Silvercrest Executive Director Susan Lawrence reported that the Silvercrest residences to date have no cases of COVID-19. The Silvercrest Department is issuing a procedures document today, in the event cases do occur. She thanked the corps and the cadets for their support of the residents. Lawrence said that not only do the 3,000 residents appreciate the support, but also the staff, who at times feel isolated. 

“For them to see The Salvation Army in action has been a blessing to them,” Lawrence said.

The department has established a “Silver Line” for residents, allowing them to speak to Sarah Bentley at THQ for emotional and spiritual support. The department is also working with National Headquarters for volunteers to call the residents. The Sacramento (California) Silvercrest will receive 40 gallons of hand sanitizer next week from a distillery; Del Oro Divisional Headquarters will distribute it. 

To close, Hodder shared Psalm 41:1–3, which expresses how the Lord cares for those who care for the week and poor. He prayed for all those dealing with the current crisis in various ways, and expressed gratitude for what God is doing through The Salvation Army.



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