On the Corner

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by Robert Docter – 


I suspect that most advisory organization members have already concluded that it really is much better to give than to receive. That drive toward altruism motivates much of the time, effort, commitment and monetary giving of most of the Salvation Army advisory organization members in the United States. That’s true within the smallest councils supporting the smallest programs in the smallest cities as well as within the major metropolitan boards. It’s also true of the National Advisory Organizations’ attempting to assist the Army in determining its role in dealing with very difficult national issues. The Army in this nation could not be nearly as effective as it is without the service of these dedicated men and women.

What makes them want to serve?

I suppose there are many answers to that question. Altruism has to be one of them. That’s giving without the expectation of any personal, tangible return. There is a return, however. Board members have the opportunity to see the product of their efforts improve the lives of humans beings within their own communities. They are able to advise on strategies and tactics relative to program development and implementation, and they are able to comment with helpful criticism of directions and plans. Most board members work diligently to keep informed concerning the goals and objectives of the individual programs on which they advise.

I suspect the very positive image of the Army within the many and varied communities of this nation also stimulates membership and service. To wear the tiny board members’ red shield on a lapel indicates to everyone that the wearers are committed to people in general, that they hold no discriminating criteria for assistance, that they are comfortable working within the Christian tradition, that they have a strong commitment to the well-being of the community, and that they are willing to work at dealing with community issues.

I believe board members want to make a difference within their communities. They recognize there is no Utopia–no perfect, problem-free place. Similarly, there is no perfect governmental program nor helping agency within any community. Board members seem to want to take the potential of funding sources and meld it with compassionate commitment to others. They see within the Army the “holistic” commitment to remedy social problems by caring for the total person. The Army tends to operate on the very simple premise that working with the whole person is the only way to facilitate complete change. It seeks to participate in all aspects of the helping relationship–the physical, where food and health are concerned; the social, where housing and support matter; the emotional, where pain and trauma bring depression and disarray; the mental, where learning lives; and the spiritual, where hope and salvation reside.

Just as the Army loves God with all its heart, soul, mind and body–so does it love his creation. It also accepts the very obvious reality that if, in the process of delivering assistance, one is not taken apart, no effort is required to put the person back together. In the Army, the word “Salvation” in our name means saving the total person.

While this holistic orientation might not always be completely conceptualized by board members, it is, by and large, sensed in their associations with clients served, with the dedication of hard-working, underpaid staff members, and in the program’s administrative leadership.

The quality of that leadership is crucial to the process. Officers and other program administrators must be completely open and honest with their boards. Short-circuits only blow the entire system. Boards become the necessary fuse box through which energy is channeled in the best way possible. When the system works, programs operate at their highest level. The lights stay on–the power functions.

When essential elements are neglected or ignored, the system only stumbles along, out of balance, moving at fits and starts, operating inefficiently. Board members don’t like to feel they are “rubber stamps”–only a signature to be gained in order to process something “upwards” with very little involvement in the planning. They will contribute mightily if they feel part of the action from inception to actualization of a plan.

Thank you, advisory organizations members everywhere.

Constantly Learning

Constantly Learning

by Lt

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