Oakland ARC networks with “hometown corps”

by Laurie Heiselman, Major – 



Captain Tom Stambaugh, corps officer in Vallejo, Calif., facilitates a group discussion.



Being in the miracle business is no idle phrase at The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in downtown Oakland. This center, at its present location since 1935, operates a remarkable long-term residential program providing clinical and rehabilitation services for men with alcohol and drug addictions.

Within a Christian atmosphere and philosophy, the Center offers men the opportunity to regain their self-respect and acquire life skills needed to take their rightful place in society.

This center has achieved (and been recognized) for its excellence in quality service provision from numerous referral sources. Plus, in March of 2003, the Oakland ARC received the National Award for Program Excellence for developing and implementing a comprehensive Fathering Program.

And it just keeps getting better! A new program provides support for the men at the Oakland ARC to attend the local Salvation Army corps in their neighborhood on their days off, or when they take weekend passes. Because of this, valuable relationships are being built between families and the corps.

Holistic approach
Our approach to every aspect of this Center is holistic, with the direct intention of addressing all aspects of a person’s life—emotional (counseling), intellectual (study, journaling), physical (work therapy), and spiritual (counseling, fellowship and corporate).

As a result of the Fathering Program, we have had the privilege of coming into contact and interacting with the children and families of the beneficiaries in the program. In an attempt to help meet some of the needs of these extended families and to integrate with local corps, we have developed a slightly different approach to our internal Bible study program.

New approach to Bible study
In order to facilitate the integration of this new approach to the Bible study program, we recruited newly-appointed Salvation Army officers in the East Bay by calling each one, welcoming them to the community, or them calling us with a desire to understand the workings of an ARC. We have invited them to come and share music/testimony/devotions at one of our regularly scheduled Thursday evening chapel services.

At the first invitation to consider teaching a Bible study, ALL were eager to begin right away. Capt. Courtney Stratton states, “The men assigned to my Bible study are excited to learn of God. My husband and I have built relationships with some of these men and are able to have a more personal involvement with them…including potential involvement with their families. I desire to ‘plant the seeds of faith’ in hope that they would flourish.”

We now have on a regular basis, seven Salvation Army officers and four community volunteers (with five corps being represented) teaching Bible study classes once a week!

Bible study groups were formed and now the class size averages between 12 to 14 (instead of 60 or more). All teachers join Majors Bill and Laurie Heiselman, and any staff that are available, for dinner at 4:30 p.m., with the Bible studies beginning at 5:30 p.m. As a result of this restructure, several benefits to the men in the program have occurred: stability, continuity, structure, spiritual zealousness, spiritual feeding, and most importantly, relationship building.

Networking with families
As a result of the emphasis on building relationships, we have asked all the men in program to voluntarily fill out a short questionnaire. The purpose is to determine to what cities in the East Bay area these men go to on their days off or when they take weekend passes.

We place the beneficiary in the class of the corps officer whose corps is in the region indicated on the questionnaire. This would also be the area where the men’s families live. The intention is for the corps officer to network with the families, through the connection and relationships built in the Bible study classes. Home visitations are now possible as the geographical region is within that particular corps’ vicinity.

We have encouraged the corps officers to help meet social needs first with the extended families, as well as to offer an invitation to women and children’s ministry opportunities. This holistic approach is less than six months old and three families have already been linked to a corps as a result of this connection.

“Praise the Lord!” states Danny S., “I appreciate having my hometown corps officers, Capts. Tom and Kim Stambaugh, leading my Bible study at the ARC. They have made a continuous effort to reach out to my family. They have met my mother, assisted with food, and have gotten my niece involved in the corps. This is her first real experience with church and God.

“I am very grateful that the ARC program has made this kind of opportunity available. I am looking forward to attending services at my hometown corps once I graduate the program.”


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