Yuba-Sutter caught eating on the go

Corps hosts a progressive dinner to showcase service centers.

Transitional housing staff Rick Millhollin and Morgan Dussault. [Photo by Kim Stambaugh]

In honor of National Salvation Army Week—May 10-14, 2010—Yuba-Sutter Corps (Yuba City, Calif.) sponsored its first ever progressive dinner.

The guest list included Advisory Board members and community agency representatives, among others. The 16 responders—including some never-before-seen faces—proved a perfect number for the evening’s agenda.

At the first stop—the Yuba Sutter Corps—Captain Kimberly Stambaugh, corps officer with her husband, Tom, welcomed guests, while Lillian Cole, community care ministry secretary, distributed information and schedules of the church services and programs. Chaya Galicia reported on the corps’ commitment to the community and the number of people served in its social services office.

The group heard the level of assistance provided through this office: 2,040 grocery orders, 73 rental vouchers, 258 households helped with utilities—these figures reflect the deep need in the community. Although most Salvation Armies around the world offer core benefits, Yuba-Sutter offers an expanded array of services 365 days a year to meet community needs.

“At each stop were speakers to talk about the services provided at that facility, and often, a testimonial from a program participant,” Barb Swift, Advisory Board chairperson, said.

It appeared that the dinner guests were in store for a lot more information about The Salvation Army than they ever imagined.

Salad course
The Open Door Wellness and Recovery Center offered guests a variety of summer salads. This program—which in collaboration with Sutter Yuba Mental Health has been in operation since the early 1980s—served the homeless and mentally ill.

While the diners consumed the second course, Maggie Walker—Army employee—shared her testimony of how she started out as a client of the program. After reaching a state of stability, she was offered the chance to serve and give back.

The Open Door Center has grown to include not only case management and transportation, but also a drop-in center offering a secure environment, group therapy sessions, cooking classes and crafts. The center sees over 20 people a day and has a proven track record of changing lives and giving the homeless/mentally ill population a firm foundation to successfully manage their illness.

Main course
Next came The Depot Family Crisis Center where “chief barbecuer” Captain Thomas Stambaugh greeted participants. When they arrived a Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) meeting was in progress. The group of about 15 N.A. members was deeply engrossed in discussing not only their addictions, but also their successes. Although the encounter was not a planned event, the first-hand knowledge the visitors received was priceless.

In the past the crisis center was the train station in Marysville; The Salvation Army has owned and operated it as a shelter since 1990. A state certified substance abuse component was added to the program, making this shelter unique. The facility contains 14 rooms with 66 beds available to women and families. There is a four to six-month waiting list to get into the program.

Clients at the center undergo intense counseling five days a week, which equips them with tools on how to be self-sufficient, addiction free and productive members of society. Although the program is a six-month residential/six month outpatient program, patrons can stay up to one year if they show steady progress toward their goals.

A mural on one wall of the center reminds participants daily of the plans God has for them: plans for good and not for evil. Amazing transformations take place within these walls.

The tour concluded in the kitchen where two teens from the youth group served “Captain Tom’s” barbecued chicken, sausages, rice and zucchini. While dining, program participants and employees shared success stories and answered questions about the program.

The fourth and final stage was the Transitional Housing complex. In 2000 the Army purchased 10 homes in a location known as “heroin alley.” Eight of these houses were completely refurbished; one was unsalvageable, torn down and replaced with a playground; and the last became the residence of the on-site manager.

Graduates of the Depot program are allowed to live in their own home for up to one year while they remain in close contact with their counselor from the Depot, follow their case plans and pay off old debts while creating good rental history.

The transitional housing site is the final step in clients becoming independent.

Grand finale
As the cake was cut, children from each of the homes appeared, gathering around the dinner guests, making the conclusion of the evening even more special.

During the ride back to the corps, participants discussed personal experiences, renewed commitments and dreams for the future. Even Advisory Board members confessed that they had learned things about The Salvation Army that they never knew before.

“This event was a first for the Yuba-Sutter Corps. It was a unique way to allow members from our community to experience the various programs we offer. The event was a success and everyone that attended really enjoyed it. We definitely will be making this a yearly event,” Captain Kim Stambaugh said.

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