From “The Streets of San Francisco”: Sept. 22, 2009

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by Martin Cooper, Capt. –

During the last 10 days, I’ve seen several things on the streets that make me step back and say “Wow!” I saw a carjacking/robbery about 40 ft. from me—people began yelling and running everywhere in a panic. One hour later someone shot off a gun very close to me and I was the only person who seemed to jump…and I jumped pretty high. Always present are the drunks and the drug users and the fights and shouting and all the other things that seem to consume the streets, but last night I saw something that I’ve never seen before—quite frankly I wouldn’t expect to see it in San Francisco.

We came upon a person under a dark piece of plastic by the bus station and we asked as we always do, “Salvation Army, are you hungry?” The plastic started moving until a man’s face emerged. He said, “Yes, I’m very hungry.” In his hands he held a dead pigeon that he had been trying to eat with the feathers and all. I know, in my heart, that this is not right and I am greatly disturbed to see somebody having to do this to survive. It almost made me sick.

That night I hardly slept from thinking about this, and I want to share my thoughts about a few things with you. Some who read this might be board members, council members, officers, soldiers, employees or supporters. In some way we’re all on the same team and in some way you’re all working hard to make our city or state or world a better place—I thank you for all that you do. I believe there has been no greater time in history than now for The Salvation Army. People are hungry, people are lost, and people are sick…and all of us are in some way part of the only Army in the world that can address the social ills that seem to be everywhere around us.

I challenge you to hit the streets and reach out to those who are down and out, and to those who are up and out. The Salvation Army marches, it doesn’t just sit in offices; The Salvation Army fights for those who can’t fight for themselves, and The Salvation Army does not retreat in the face of overwhelming odds. There are people everywhere who are counting on this Army…The Salvation Army. We’ll march into war with Bibles and food and love and compassion and we will not be stopped.

Thank you all for your support, because I couldn’t do what I do if you didn’t do what you do. God bless.

Captain Martin Cooper, executive director of the Harbor Light Center in San Francisco, regularly walks the streets of the city seeking those in need.

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