In almost 130 years, The Salvation Army as an organization has accomplished many things. Practical assistance provided for families and children, shelters opened to the homeless, rehabilitation offered to those whose lives were claimed by addiction. The successes are numerous, and have helped generate such opportunities in more than 120 countries in the world.
As each and every achievement is celebrated and embraced, so are the many people who made it all possible. Because so many individuals are willing to donate their time and share their passion for helping others, The Salvation Army can continue to grow successfully.
In honour of Volunteer Appreciation Week, the members of three different Salvation Army units shared their accounts on the real value of volunteers.
In Charlottetown, volunteers are involved in both charity and ministry work. Employee Annemarie Manning, who works directly with volunteers in the Corps, says there are about 20-35 currently.These volunteers perform tasks such as assisting with the food bank, assisting in the kitchen, and doing pick-ups and deliveries. Volunteers also help to run children’s programs and bible studies, and give extra assistance during the Red Shield Campaign in May.
“We have one gentleman who volunteers (on the kettles) at Christmastime. He had a stroke and part of his body is paralyzed, but for 10 years he’s been coming in to do the kettles. He always offers his time five days a week,” says Manning. “He’s always been involved with the Army, so it’s a great way for him to get to see people he knows.”
Saint John, NB
Manning’s story on outstanding volunteer service is not uncommon. Captain Suzann Wiseman of the Saint John Corps says some of their programs would not be possible without the help of dedicated volunteers.
“We run a drop-in centre called The Hope Café, a friendship room,” says Wiseman. “We have volunteers in the kitchen, and volunteers who come in to work Monday to Friday, they serve tea, coffee and breakfast items. Basically our Hope Café couldn’t operate without them.”
Apart from The Hope Café, volunteers in Saint John also help lead chapel services on Wednesday night, and help cook and serve meals for 50+ group and other chapel events.
“We have one lady who will be 93 at the end of April. She has been volunteering here all her life – probably for about 48-50 years. She is always the first one to have her name down for anything that’s going on,” says Wiseman. “It’s extraordinary for someone of that age to be giving so much of their time.”
The Halifax Centre of Hope
As one of the largest units in the Maritimes, volunteer support is also greatly appreciated at The Halifax Centre of Hope. As volunteer coordinator Kristine Cameron explains, there are daily, weekly and casual volunteers who offer their assistance in a number of different ways.“We have one gentleman who comes in twice a week who’s in a wheelchair. He has slow movements, so he does portioning of (food bank items) like detergent and sugar,” Cameron says. “You come to us and tell us your skills, and we’ll find a placement for you.”
Cameron says Centre of Hope Volunteers help with kitchen tasks such as prep work, serving, cleaning and dishwashing. They also help unload food from the food truck, stock shelves, and pack groceries. There are volunteers who do office work such as data entry, photocopying and making phone calls, and volunteers in the clothing room to help sort through donations.
“We look for people who are flexible and willing to assist in more than one area,” says Cameron.
As for especially outstanding volunteers, Cameron says there are many. She has volunteers who only assist at Christmastime. She has volunteers who have stayed for 10-15 years. She has volunteers who have graduated from the Center of Hope Anchorage Rehabilitation Program and are looking for a way to give back. Each individual plays a role, despite how big or small it may be, in supporting the programs and services of The Salvation Army.
“I try to give volunteer recognition as much as possible,” Cameron says. “Just because volunteers don’t come looking for appreciation, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it.