Reno rebounds from tough year

by Carole Miller – 

2006 is dawning as a year of promise for Reno. Community awareness and support continue to build. Social service programs are expanding.

There’s a new $2.3 million Adult Rehabilitation Program (ARP) residence. A dedication and open house will be held May 16 for the Lied Residential Facility (named for the Lied Foundation of Las Vegas). The 70-bed facility replaces one that had housed the substance abuse recovery program for 35 years. It had become a “money pit” because of maintenance issues.

“All of the guys love it,” said program coordinator Phil Franklin. “Everything works. The four and eight-man dorms provide a lot more privacy. There are two huge restrooms and improved laundry facilities.” Kitchen supervisor Wayne Earley reports, “This is heaven, compared to the old kitchen and dining room!”

A year ago, however, we felt extremely challenged. Adversity supposedly makes us stronger. If so, the Reno Corps is certainly building muscles! “We’re very happy to have 2005 behind us,” said Major Tom Petersen, corps officer. “To date, 2006 looks absolutely rosy, by comparison!”

2005 began badly on January 9 when the Work Therapy Center (WTC) warehouse roof collapsed under extremely heavy winter snow. The cave-in blew out several loading dock doors and broke the sprinkler system, which then flooded the 60,000-square-foot building. Fortunately, the collapse occurred on a Sunday morning, so the building was vacant and no one was hurt. The warehouse was insured, but the contents were not. Approximately 75 percent of the donations in the building were lost.

The incident launched a chain of events that had a detrimental impact on operations for nearly a year. In addition to the loss of thrift store merchandise and other supplies during the cave-in, the corps had to suspend the “As Is” auction, losing its revenue. The corps leased temporary warehouse space—a third the size of its damaged building. The smaller space required turning down many donations on a daily basis, further affecting the bottom line.

The roof collapse also caused a six-month delay in the opening of the new ARP residence. The facility was constructed adjacent to the WTC to provide a campus-type setting, since most of the program beneficiaries work in the warehouse. To reduce construction expenses, the ARP kitchen and dining room were being built inside the warehouse. The damaged WTC roof had to be completely removed before being replaced. So work stopped on the kitchen and dining room—both required to open the new residence and feed the men.

Then Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast! Like many Salvation Army units nationwide, the Reno operation was thrown into “warp speed”—usually associated with the holidays—two months early. The community support for Katrina and other disaster appeals was awesome. Reno collected over $600,000 for Katrina relief alone, but the plethora of fundraising events competed with holiday program preparation. Through God’s blessings, it all got done and we were pleasantly surprised again. Nonprofits across the nation had expressed concern that the outpouring of financial support for the many natural disasters would lead to “donor fatigue” and decreased support for holiday needs. That was not the case in Reno; Truckee Meadows residents dug even deeper. We received the toys and food we needed and our kettle campaign brought in over $176,000—a 19 percent increase over 2005.

Like the awakening spring flower, the Reno Corps looks toward heaven in gratitude for the strength to overcome a very cold “winter”!


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