Did you know over 100 million people worldwide are without housing? On October 10th, we recognize World Homeless Day and the importance of a safe, secure home. While we are working locally to keep individuals safely sheltered, The Salvation Army is also offering services and solutions to end homelessness worldwide. By offering emergency shelter, long-term housing assistance and case management support, we’re working to help individuals find a pathway out of poverty, and a permanent place to call home.
Many individuals we help are like Nykirah, who found herself homeless after losing her job during the pandemic, and then her housing all caring for her sick mother. She came to The Salvation Army’s Emergency Family Shelter with her three sons and could sleep safely without fearing what would happen next. With a safe place to sleep each night, case management support and a network of resources, Nykirah regained employment and was able to move into an apartment with her boys and is working towards homeownership.
You can make a difference this World Homeless Day for individuals like Nykirah and others who fear where they’ll sleep tonight, how their bills will get paid or when their next meal will come. Share a note of encouragement, educate others about how The Salvation Army can help, or consider making a $25 donation to help families create fresh starts.
Last month, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club hosted its first Alumni Day event. The event welcomed in decades of alumni who attended the Club growing up. This year marks the Club’s 50th anniversary at its current R Street location which was also celebrated during the day.
Throughout the event, alumni had opportunities to reconnect with childhood friends, tour the newly renovated facility, and share their stories of the time spent at the Club. Many shared how the Club “saved their life” and they didn’t know where they would be today if it weren’t for the Club.
Awards were presented to several alumni recognizing their contributions to the Club and the Church Hill community. Mayor Levar Stoney and Sheriff Antoinette Irving provided remarks during the program. During the program the James H. Bryant Scholarship Fund was announced which will help provide scholarship opportunities for future generations to attend the Club.
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club quickly evolved to meet the ongoing needs of the community, first transitioning into an emergency COVID-19 shelter and then offering a limited capacity summer camp for children. From ending the school year virtually and no longer being able to participate in many of their favorite activities, the lives of children and youth look drastically different than when 2020 started. By offering limited-capacity summer camp, The Club provided a new sense of hope and comfort to youth in the community when they needed it most.
Staff implemented intensive health and safety protocols, such as daily temperature scans, PPE requirements, increased cleaning and spacing out classrooms. While summer camp looked different from what the children were used to, it didn’t stop them from making lasting memories and developing critical skills. With many schools returning virtually this fall, The Club opened its doors as a Facilitated Learning Center and welcomed students from Richmond City, Henrico and Chesterfield Counties. Here the students receive in person support during the school day, daily breakfast and lunch, and afterschool programming. The Club is also serving as a community hub in partnership with Richmond Public Schools where families can receive access to community resources.
“Once again we are transitioning to meet the needs of the community and Club members when they need support most,” said Boys & Girls Club Director, Hugh Jones. “We are prepared to serve as a facilitated learning center to maintain the academic, emotional and character development of youth while they aren’t physically in their schools anymore. We are proud to offer support, and grateful for our community partners working together to create a bright future for our children.”
As we are all navigating through uncharted waters during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army of Central Virginia was grateful to provide support for its Boys & Girls Club members by offering a limited-capacity summer camp. We know how adults have been challenged by all that is going on, however the pandemic and quarantine have also taken a toll on youth. From not finishing the school year, no longer being around friends or participating in their favorite activities for months, the lives of children and youth look drastically different than they did six months ago. The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club wanted to provide positive support for youth in the area, especially when they needed it most. We wanted to offer what we are here for and are known for: creating an atmosphere of fun and learning while also providing relief for parents while they are away. The scripture below was shared with Boys & Girls Club staff in preparation for reopening during these trying times:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Staff spent the weeks leading up to summer camp learning about all CDC/State health and safety guidelines and revamping protocols to fit the current circumstance. Staff have made sure that all individuals will remain safe including measures such as: parent drop off, taking temperatures twice a day, limiting class sizes, ensuring social distancing, planning creative programming, monitoring use of face masks and hand washing, and more. Summer camp opened on June 22nd and is now in week four. While initially opening under new circumstances was tricky, staff and camp participants are now comfortably enjoying camp while remaining safe and healthy. The last few weeks have been full of activities, energy, creative programming, smiles, and laughter. Staff, parents and club members alike have been getting into the flow of navigating as we provide an optimum Club experience once again!
In the January City Council Meeting, The Salvation Army of Central Virginia was approved for relocation of its Area Command to 1900 Chamberlayne Avenue (Eternity Church), which will allow the organization to expand its homeless services, including doubling client bed count and increasing access to critical services.
By moving to a one-story building, The Salvation Army will be better equipped to serve disabled individuals in need of housing. Additionally, the nearly 50,000 square feet of space will more than double the amount of available beds, increasing from 55 to 97. This expansion will allow The Salvation Army to continue the decline in homelessness by increasing the access to safe shelter.
“We’re excited for the potential impact this new facility will have on people who are experiencing a housing crisis,” said Major Donald Dohmann, Area Commander, at The Salvation Army of Central Virginia. “In order for The Salvation Army to continue doing the most good, we need to evolve as community needs evolve, and this is the perfect opportunity for that.”
The relocation will include the move of all administrative operations, case management services and emergency housing into one facility, enabling more comprehensive care for clients. The Salvation Army will continue serving the Richmond community through their Adult Rehabilitation Center, Boys & Girls Club Program and Citadel Corps church.
The Salvation Army has been serving Central Virginia residents in need since 1885 and has been located at 2 West Grace Street for 40 years. By moving Area Command under one roof, The Salvation Army hopes to strengthen their focus on serving the community and advocating for people seeking a path to self-sufficiency.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club is working on a renovation project that will change how the Club supports and empowers Richmond’s East End residents and youth. As alums of the Club, you’ve had a first-hand experience of how participating in Club activities can change a child’s life. We want to hear your stories on how The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club changed your life so we can change more lives!
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The Amazing Raise is our region’s 36-hour online giving challenge that inspires and empowers our community to support Central Virginia nonprofit organizations in an amazing way, regardless of where you call home. It gets even better – when you give during The Amazing Raise, you can help your favorite nonprofits win additional incentive prizes ranging from $500 to $15,000!
Over the last five years through the Amazing Raise, The Salvation Army has raised close to $10,000 through donors locally and across the country to support services and solutions to families and individuals working to overcome hardships here in Central Virginia.
Please visit this page on Wednesday, September 16 beginning at 6AM to make a gift to The Salvation Army during the Amazing Raise.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club will host the 3rd Annual Hoops for Health and Healthy Living Festival on Saturday, May 2 at the Club on 3701 R Street in Richmond’s East End.
Check out the interview with information on Hoops for Health and Healthy Living Festival as well as information about The Salvation Army’s other programs and services in Central Virginia from April 5, 2015 on Alpha Media Radio n Richmond.
Kay Thomas (host)
Christian Dundas (Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club Advisory Council)
Hugh Jones (Executive Director, Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club)
Matt Pochily (Marketing & Communications, The Salvation Army)