Workin’ on what works
“IT TAKES A village to raise a child,” and the applied learning center equips young people with computer and study skills.
BY ESTHER SATHER, COLONEL –
The term ‘Best Practices’ has become today’s new buzzword: it’s heard in business, in education or medicine–it’s even come into the Army world.
Every division has special programs. Each corps has a distinctive that is theirs alone, whether as a congregation or in the social services ministry. And in the Southwest Division, with its 50 corps and outposts, each ‘Best Practice’ has developed from a local (and simple) need.
Yuma brings the store
Major Eric Lo in Yuma, Ariz., realized many of the local population simply could not get to the Army’s thrift store. In that case, how do you get the store to the people? Major searched and found the most needy neighborhood. Next, he found a school which would allow two important things: flyers about the event, which could be sent home with students and permission to park the ‘store mobile’ in the schools’ parking lot.
The first time he brought the ‘store mobile’, all the merchandise sold within the first two hours. He also brought colorful balloons for the children which had invitations to the corps activities.
The second time he brought the store mobile, sales doubled.
Neighboring communities asked to be put on the list. Television cameras found the store mobile, which gave Salvationists a good chance to tell the reason for the hope that is within them. This Best Practice started simply because of a need, and will continue to grow.
Changing populations, programs
The health of any corps is determined by its success in getting people inside it. In many corps, the neighborhood populations have changed since they were built. Corps that were very healthy a decade ago now wonder how to get people in their doors. Phoenix Citadel is one of those corps. It has seen the neighborhood go from middle class to businesses to re-vitalization to apartments for seniors.
MAN’S DISASTERS BECOME God’s opportunities as emergency disaster teams were on the scene during recent wild fires throughout Arizona.
The dilemma for Major Harry Lacey and the corps council was serious. Do you move to a better neighborhood? Do you just designate it a senior corps? Or do you canvas the neighborhood and see what needs to be done, and see if the Army can be a part of re-vitalization of the area? Soldiers did just that! When an interview was held with the elementary school principal, they realized they had found the need. The students and parents needed an active learning center where computer training and basic tutoring for children could happen. It became apparent that parenting skills and budgeting classes, even gardening could be offered. The program became what the Army has been since its beginning: a place of safety, learning and caring.
Major Lacey, working with the advisory council, Arizona State University Department of Education, a grant from WorldCom and American Express made the neighborhood need a reality.
Now, not only do children come for tutoring during the week, but entire families find their way to Phoenix Citadel as their church home on Sundays.
Networking meets needs
Whenever The Salvation Army opens its operations in a community, networking is most important.
Even as you are looking for the right location, you are working out the details involved in meeting the needs of the people in the community. For the White Mountain outpost, an emergency disaster canteen made all the difference in the world.
The canteen was brought to the outpost to be used for emergencies, either going east to Albuquerque or west to Phoenix. Ministry leaders David and Tina Sherman knew they needed help with this brand new venture, and networking in the community became very important. Volunteers play a vital role in the ministry and service offered in the White Mountains.
Who do you look for to serve at an emergency canteen?
David looked for retired firefighters, cooks and EMT’s. It worked out just right. When the Santa Fe, New Mexico wildfires broke out, the new volunteers were ready, willing and able. They didn’t need instruction–they knew the questions to ask, and they saw what was needed.
Those same volunteers became crucially important when this summer’s wildfires broke out in the northern Arizona forest. The people who started out as volunteers for an occasional emergency have become an integral part of the Salvation Army center in Show Low, Arizona, home of the White Mountain outpost.
Musicians on call
Beside the important aspect of service, worship to Salvationists means music. It is a vital, primary focus of our meetings, whether large or small.
When Jonathan and Vickie Harvey assumed the leadership of the Farmington, New Mexico corps they realized the corps was seriously lacking in any musical ability within its membership.
They also realized if they wanted to have any opportunity for growth, the issue of music would have to be addressed.
How do you find musicians? Christian musicians?
Why not advertise in the local newspaper? What a concept!
“Are you looking for a new and exciting challenge?”
The Salvation Army would like to offer you a great opportunity!
If you are a guitarist, keyboardist, drummer, call…”
Within days, calls came one after another, responding to the ministry opportunity presented. So many in fact, auditioning was used for the many people who wanted to be a part of this new ministry adventure for the Lord.
The result has been the formation of a complete worship team made up of believing Christians who now consider The Salvation Army their church home. The musicians have brought their families. They are drawing newcomers to enjoy the blessings that come with the music, which is so integral to the ministry and worship of our Army. A need that became a Best Practice.
Whenever, wherever there is growth in the Southwest Division, TEAM coordinator Isobel Pearce is invited to come and help in the development of the corps family. Whether it is to determine their spiritual giftedness or teach their responsibilities as Salvation soldiers, corps families enthusiastically attend the interactive, informative and instructional lessons offered from the TEAM curriculum. The success of any program is whether or not you are invited to return again. Whenever Isobel and her teaching team complete the training offered, there is always a request for more. The learning on the part of soldiers around the Southwest Division is reflected in the spiritual formation growth, understanding Army principles as well as the acceptance of local leadership roles throughout the division. Certainly meeting a need, creating a Best Practice.
Of all the programs provided by The Salvation Army the League of Mercy–the community caring ministry–is best known for the blessing it provides. Albuquerque, New Mexico has specialized in fulfilling the needs they find as they do their ministry.
When requested by the hospital, layettes for stillborn babies became an ongoing project. Turbans for cancer patients have brought knitters into the LOM program.
One of the most unique projects is ‘Mercy Days’. What started with leftover flowers from an annual flower show has continued for more than a decade. However, now they don’t use leftover flowers. The garden clubs of Albuquerque decided they should give sufficient flowers for 600 bouquets. The flowers are divided, put into soup cans decorated by LOM members of the corps. The new bouquets are then distributed to surprised and delighted patients in care centers throughout the city. Members will tell you it is a close call as to who is most pleased and blessed: the giver or the receiver.
Simple needs, caring solutions
Each of these ‘Best Practices’ started because of a need. In many ways, they are simplistic, in other ways very sophisticated. Some would not work anywhere else, but the majority have a seed of truth that can be adapted anywhere with a few adjustments. As always, the best programs, ministries or services start because of a need, whether long term or ‘just as needed.’
Whatever it may be, the Salvationists of the Southwest Division are following the admonition of the Scriptures to ‘Go into all your world’, do the will of the Lord. Because everything we do for the Lord should be a ‘Best Practice.’