National Social Services Conference equips, inspires delegates

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The Salvation Army held its 2017 National Social Services Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from April 4–7.
The conference, themed “Gateway 2017: Connecting to Mission – Equipping to Serve,” featured breakout sessions including, “Hooked on Chaos: A Combat Veteran’s Story About War, Withdrawing from it Afterwards, and How The Salvation Army Can Best Support Veterans,” Journey to Find Creative heARTs and Serving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community.
“The success of the conference will be based on examples given and ideas provided, that can help advance the mission in their own territories, divisions and corps’ with intent ‘to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination,’” said Lt. Colonel Ardis Fuge, National Social Services Secretary.
Guided tours of The Salvation Army’s Greater Philadelphia programs helped break up the monotony of the conference. One of the programs, “Soup’s On!,” offers a culinary training regimen to prepare clients for work in the food service industry. Another, Ivy Residence, features a 127-unit affordable housing complex for low-income seniors.
“This conference was different than others I’ve attended because there were a lot of sessions available and evenly spaced out, allowing delegates to really learn the message of the sessions and able to take away valuable information from them,” said Captain Dana Libby, Western Territorial Social Services Secretary.
To cap the week, each territory handed out Program Excellence and Achievement Awards to a handful of outstanding initiatives. The Women’s and Children’s Shelter, representing the Cascade Division, took home the honor for the Western Territory. The program provides shelter and essential services to domestic violence survivors and their children, including on-site childcare, parent-child specialist services and a 24-hour hotline.
Many delegates left the conference eager to employ in their own communities the new strategies and knowledge they acquired.
“As a soldier, I would like to see these at corps,” said Lydia Fairclough, Office and Administrative Assistant of Territorial Social Services department. “I am inspired to go back home to talk to the corps officers at Torrance Corps and Stillman Sawyer Family Service Center to have more hands-on-training and implementing programs I have learned this week.”
Dr. Michael Parker, Sr., (Ret.) and current Professor of Social Work at the Institute for Research and Aging at the University of Alabama closed with the message, “Think global—act local.”

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