New LA Metro team aims to champion hope
By Robert Brennan–
It all started in May 1887 when The Salvation Army held its very first tent revival meeting on the corner of Temple and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. The Army has been in LA ever since, providing shelter to the homeless, food to the hungry and hope to countless Angelenos.
To maximize its impact on those who find themselves marginalized in Los Angeles, the California South Division appointed Majors Osei and Lynn Stewart as its new General Secretary for Los Angeles Metro Coordination and Community Development and General Secretary for Los Angeles Metro – Program, respectively. The Stewarts have been officers for 22 years—all in the Western Territory. They have a decade of experience at the grass roots level of The Salvation Army mission as corps officers and have been serving at the divisional level for 12 years.
Osei Stewart was lead officer of the area’s Incident Command team during the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic. He supervised two major Los Angeles-based drive-through feeding events as part of the Army’s greater emergency disaster response in Southern California that has provided more than 4 million meals as well as shelter for close to 700 people experiencing homelessness via local hotels through Project Roomkey.
“To take on an endeavor such as this, it will take acute vision and a boldness to see beyond the now and to reach for what God has intended for his people,” said Osei Stewart. “The need is so great, especially for our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. Skid Row has hit critical mass—we have to do something that will reach people to get them off the streets and to bring them to a brighter future, where they are housing stable and flourishing mentally, physically and spiritually.”
As the leaders of LA Metro, the Stewarts will be responsible for some of the most high-profile and substantial social service programs in the Western Territory, including the Bell Shelter, the largest homeless shelter West of the Mississippi, and the Zahn Shelter, the only emergency family shelter in the City of LA. They will also be at the helm of flagship community centers, like the Siemon Family Youth and Community in South Los Angeles and the Red Shield Youth and Community Center in downtown’s Pico Union District, where thousands of families and at-risk youth find educational support, a safe and nurturing environment to grow through sports and art and a loving staff to encourage them and help them build better futures.
With homelessness reaching critical mass, the Stewarts will work closely with city government agencies, socially conscious corporations and foundations to grow The Salvation Army’s capacity for good in LA and assist its Los Angeles Metro Advisory Board to greater heights of community service and putting love into action.
The Stewarts will have the support of Lt. Melissa Jones who will act as Assistant Officer to LA Metro Coordination. Jones brings a passion for justice and equality, and a love for the marginalized in our society. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music business from New York University and completed law school at Loyola Marymount University.
Rounding out the team is Irene De Anda Lewis, the new LA Metro Program Development Director. Lewis was the first Latino Director of The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Community Center, where she created an oasis of hope and assistance for more than 4,000 children and families each year and proved to be a stalwart fundraiser.
“To take on an endeavor such as this, it will take acute vision and a boldness to see beyond the now and to reach for what God has intended for his people,” said Osei Stewart. “The need is so great, especially for our neighbors whom are experiencing homelessness. Skid Row has hit critical mass—we have to do something that will reach people to get them off the streets and to bring them to a brighter future, where they are housing stable and flourishing mentally, physically and spiritually.
“The Salvation Army in LA has always been an oasis of hope—our LA Metro team will be champions of hope for our communities to bring about the best that God has for his people and to help our corps and programs activate even greater resources and support,” Stewart said. “We’re ready. Let’s do it.”
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