TEC’s Daily COVID-19 Updates: Day 4

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Chief Secretary Colonel Doug Riley held a teleconference meeting March 19 with members of the Territorial Executive Council, the fourth of such meetings regarding The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19. To open the meeting, he led the group in the chorus, “Thank you, Lord,” following it with a prayer of gratitude.

Riley covered several items of interest, noting that while Territorial Headquarters (THQ) is now on location critical mode—with many staff working remotely—it will continue to support the field— “nothing will change,” he said. 

Additionally, all Salvation Army Family Stores nationwide are closed, but still taking donations. National Headquarters has signed a letter currently in Congress to receive a portion of a $60 million in government funds, a relief and economic stimulus package for nonprofits. The meeting then moved to reports from the Intermountain, Southwest and Northwest divisions.

Intermountain Divisional Commander Major Mike Dickinson reported that the division’s emotional and spiritual care team is very active: calling all officers every other day. Team members also reach out to Divisional Headquarters employees, retired officers and Silver Star parents.

With the power out in Salt Lake City, Utah, yesterday after the earthquake—including at the Salt Lake City Corps—the corps saw an increase in the demand for food, providing 89 food boxes instead of their usual 20 in a day.

The division is working to centralize social services so corps can focus primarily on emotional/spiritual care. Meanwhile, the division is working on plans for a virtual food drive as well as a virtual phone bank telethon with a local TV station.

It’s ski season, and some visitors to Vail (Colorado) are unable to return home due to possible exposure to the coronavirus. The state of Colorado has asked The Salvation Army to house all visitors who are quarantined. The Salvation Army in Denver is partnering with other agencies to ramp up shelter services. The need is even greater today, as the area is expecting up to a foot of snow.

Southwest Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Kelly Pontsler said while the states in the Southwest Division have not seen as many cases of COVID-19 as others in the Western Territory, the number is beginning to increase. With the schools closed, The Salvation Army is helping the schools distribute food to children who might not otherwise have enough to eat. Pontsler said the Estrella Mountain (Arizona) Corps and Hobbs (New Mexico) Corps are making great efforts with food distribution. The Hobbs Corps delivered over 300 food boxes in one day.

In many New Mexico communities, The Salvation Army is the primary distributor of commodities to seniors, and this is continuing. The Roswell Corps is notable in this effort.

The Phoenix Kroc Center is providing childcare for children of emergency responders and hospital workers at no charge. This connection, Pontsler believes, will develop long-term good relationships with these service providers. The Kroc Center is also teaching seniors—just a few at a time and respecting social distancing—social media skills so they can stay connected and avoid feeling isolated.

In Phoenix, The Salvation Army is participating in a multi-agency discussion regarding how to help the homeless. The Divisional Headquarter campus in Phoenix includes a transitional living center. To encourage social distancing, the center came up with a schedule for using the recreational facilities.

Northwest Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Bill Dickinson said the division has an Incident Command Team in place led by Shaun Jones; Major Don Gilger is also assisting for Idaho and north Montana. The emotional/spiritual team is active throughout the division.

Dickinson said the corps are seeing a 25 percent increase in food needs. In particular, the city of Bellingham closed its food banks, so more need is expected there. The City of Seattle is asking The Salvation Army to manage shelters in various locations. The Army has asked the city for hazard pay for shelter workers.

Many Salvation Army locations now deliver food or provide parking lot distributions; client choice pantries are not open. They are not requiring people to sign for anything; they simply help as needed.

The Tacamo (Washington) Corps has been asked to act as a quarantine shelter for 12 men exposed to the coronavirus. The Salvation Army in Everett and Bellingham (both in Washington) have been asked to open new shelters in April. The Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Kroc Center is functioning as a service center, and also helping with local post office deliveries. The Spokane (Washington) Corps is working with city and county governments on how best to use their vast campus during the current crisis.

The division continues to work on online worship services. Numbers were good for last Sunday’s services; the Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center had 1,100 online hits. The goal is to expand the online services to the whole division and to add Sunday school, junior church and praise and worship meetings. 

In closing the meeting, Riley quoted  Job 5:7: Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. “Yes Lord, we will have trouble, but our trust is in you” Riley said. Captain Stephanie Dennis closed with a prayer of gratitude before the assembly gathered with other THQ staff outside around the flagpole for a time of prayer.



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