The Salvation Army 2009 Year in Review

by John McAlister
Categories: Feature
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salvationarmy_yearinreviewIt was a difficult year for many in Canada. In 2009 hundreds of thousands of Canadians worried about their jobs and their savings. According to Stats Canada, “The Canadian economy lost a startling 129,000 jobs in January, almost all full-time positions and a record single-month total.”

As a result of the slumping economy, demand for Salvation Army services went up 10-40% across the country. More than ever people needed our help, particularly in the areas of food services and shelter.

In 2009 The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda helped 1.5 million. Our heartfelt thanks go to you for partnering with us to be a shelter of hope for those trying to escape the storms of life.

Homelessness Study
In May results of a nationwide study by the Army on homelessness was released. Hundreds of homeless men living in Salvation Army shelter care between 2007-2008 were surveyed. It was determined that factors such as employment, income, healthcare and housing continue to adversely affect the marginalized throughout Canada.

The findings showed that nearly 30 percent of homeless men were employed and nearly two-thirds received money from some source of welfare or a job, yet many still found themselves within the shelter care system. The findings concluded that a national housing strategy, which includes social services, like job training, health care and counselling, must be prioritized by federal officials in order to end the cycle of poverty.
New Facilities

After several years of planning, fundraising and costly construction, The Salvation Army Toronto Harbour Light Ministries officially opened its doors on May 22, meeting new needs in Canada’s largest city. Located in the city core, this seven-storey structure has four major components: a 125-seat community church; a 98-unit transitional housing facility; a supporting housing wing for up to 85 men; and newcomer settlement services such as English as a Second Language instruction.

On June 10 The Salvation Army celebrated the grand opening of the Spryfield Family Resource Centre on Herring Cove Road in the Spryfield area of Halifax. The Centre, in partnership with other community groups, offers programs that address high rates of illiteracy, that develop the minds of young children and that offer marginalized individuals and families the practical support they need, all in an effort to help break the cycle of poverty. The centre is also a key resource for new Canadians in the Spryfield area who may need tangible or emotional support adjusting to a new homeland and culture.

The Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope, a modern, state of the art facility for the homeless and at-risk population in Langley, B.C., officially opened its doors on November 27. This three-storey development provides 30 emergency shelter and 25 supportive transitional beds for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Clients will also benefit from meal services, counselling services, a chef training program, a hospitality server training program, and a building service worker training program.

Deborah’s Gate is a 10-bed facility that is located in a secretive location in Vancouver for the security of those being rescued from human sexual trafficking. On December 1 it was ready for its first guests. The facility is divided into “pods” where three or four young woman can create a new community of support. The women receive immediate medical care, help with addictions, legal issues, refugees services as well as 24/7 care and attention from a team of qualified and sensitized staff. Visit SalvationArmy.ca/reports

Restocking the Shelves
In October The Salvation Army released a nationwide report, Restocking the Shelves, which indicated that although Canada was emerging from a Global recession, more Canadians were relying on social-service agencies like the Army to meet basic human needs. The primary survey results indicated that one-third of all Salvation Army food banks and feeding program saw a drop in donations while three-quarters saw a rise in demand for these services. Visit SalvationArmy.ca/reports

New National Advisory Board
On November 11 The Salvation Army’s Territorial Headquarters in Toronto announced the formation of a new National Advisory Board. The Board will support The Salvation Army with strategic guidance on the organization’s national operations and services. The thirteen different board members represent a number of high-profile business and civic bodies, including senior executives with Scotiabank, Procter & Gamble, McCain Foods and Manulife, as well as former and current deputy ministers within the Ontario government. Members met for their first inaugural meeting on November 12th and 13th in Toronto.

Text to Donate

In December The Salvation Army launched its first ever text messaging program. Canadians can contribute a $5.00 donation to The Salvation Army by texting the word HOPE to 45678 from any Rogers Wireless or Bell Mobility phone. The proceeds of each text donation go to support The Salvation Army’s year-round work.