Families Link Santa Rosa Ministries
BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING was a family affair at Santa Rosa Corps as children particpated in the Mervyn’s ChildSpree program.
“Families first” is the goal at the Santa Rosa Salvation Army. “It is our vision to link our social service programs to our spiritual ministry,” says Captain Phil Lum, commanding officer. The corps is now integrating parents in all of its youth programs and events. While the concept has only been in action since the beginning of summer, seven families contacted through parent/child events now attend the corps on a regular basis.
“We found that working with the child wasn’t enough,” states Lum. “We spent a lot of time transporting the children to our programs, and had little or no contact with the parents. We knew that we could only accomplish so much with the children and we saw that what we did achieve wasn’t being reinforced at home. We decided we would have to include the parents in our programs if we wanted to see any longterm results.”
This year, parents were required to attend an orientation before signing up their children for camp. Parents were given camp information followed by a question and answer session. After camp registration, the parents took part in a “Conflict Management” seminar.
A local child therapist spoke about conflict management for children and parents. Role-play demonstrated ways to turn anger into helpful communication by using problem-solving techniques.
In August, the corps participated in the local Mervyn’s ChildSpree Back to School Shopping program. Volunteers from the Advisory Board and the community took the children shopping while the parents were served breakfast and attended a parenting workshop. It was the perfect opportunity for parents to network with each other, and gather information on programs available in the community and those at the Santa Rosa Corps.
The same concept has been part of its new tutoring and mentoring program from its inception. Parents are required to attend the mentoring sessions with their children. They may work with the child or may opt for special tutoring and mentoring separately. Job-seeking and training skills are available, as well as instruction in life skills for all family members.
Children and families from all of the youth programs celebrated the end of summer and back-to-school by attending a baseball game. The Salvation Army hosted a tailgate party served from their canteen by the emergency/ disaster volunteers. Three hundred people attended the event. It was the perfect opportunity for everyone to come together for just plain fun.
“The Salvation Army has always focused on working with families,” stated Lum. “This is even more important today when the traditional family is not the norm. Our children come from one-parent, no-parent, and grandparent families. We need to be able to meet all of their needs, and the only way for us to do that successfully is to get to know the entire family unit. We want the families to see us as a support system, a source for help, and most of all, a Christian example. I can see this happening because of the changes we’ve made, and it is a blessing to us and an opportunity for service beyond what we have been doing.”