Latest Updates: COVID-19 and The Salvation Army

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Updated March 27, 2020, 5:34 p.m. PT

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army continues to house the homeless, feed the hungry and meet human needs in every respect. If you’re in need, please call your local Salvation Army or find a location near you at westernusa.salvationarmy.org.

Continue to check back here for the latest resources and updates regarding COVID-19 and The Salvation Army.

 

The Salvation Army in the USA Western Territory is responding to COVID-19, following the motto: “Keep calm and do the mission.”

Members of the Territorial Executive Council (TEC) continue to hold regular teleconference meetings with all command heads regarding The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19, with territorial leaders and command heads sharing updates.

“I remain convinced that there is no other organization that is capable of addressing the broad variety of human needs that have emerged as a result of this crisis,” Territorial Commander Commissioner Kenneth G.Hodder said.  “The Salvation Army has the personnel, we have the infrastructure, we have the credibility, and above all, we have the mission. Our calling to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination positions us, and in fact requires us to play a unique part in addressing this situation.”

Streaming Ministry
Territorial Secretary of Spiritual Life Development and Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries Colonel Colleen Riley and Continuing Education Officer Major Brian Bearchell will be holding weekly livestreams of prayer time. The live streams can be accessed via the New Frontier Chronicle Facebook page around 1 p.m. on Fridays. For the prayer time, people can write in with prayer requests via Facebook comment or through an email to prayer.request@usw.salvationarmy.org. The inbox will be continually monitored.

“We just want to be available to you,” Riley said in the inaugural livestream. “Just to be able to share some time together, some prayers together, some encouraging words together, answer questions if we can.”

Territorial Headquarters contacted retired officers March 18 to assist in remote pastoral care and calling to check on donors. 

Due to changing guidelines from the government and CDC, the Sunday worship for Salvation Army corps will be placed online in the West. The territory released guided online worship materials for March 15, March 22 and March 29, and individual corps are developing additional online resources, including Orange curriculum at home for youth and devotionals along with worship live streams. 

Northwest Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Bill Dickinson reported preliminary numbers from March 15 for the three Northwest Division counties that held online worship: Seattle Temple Corps—1,600 online hits; Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Kroc Center Corps—1,000 online hits (the corps also met on site); Bellingham (Washington) Corps—595 online hits; and Seattle White Center—811 online hits.

“We publicized heavily and encouraged the community and employees to tune in,” Dickinson said.  “Our goal is to expand our online presence with Bible studies and children’s church, etc., in the coming days.”

Event Updates
While many events and gatherings throughout the territory were canceled or postponed, the decision about Commissioning, Encore will be made early next month or when further information is received, Assistant Secretary for Program Martin Hunt said.  

On March 27, the following cancellations were announced: Service Corps, Brengle Institute (for officers) and the National Seminar on Holiness (now being planned for 2021). Service Corps members might have the opportunity to work at Salvation Army summer camps.

On March 12, General Brian Peddle announced the cancellation of the International Conference of Leaders, slated to be held in Lisbon, Portugal. On the same day, national leaders canceled the National Advisory Organizations Conference in Chicago.

“In our missional service, the health and safety of our people and those we serve are paramount and was our primary concern when making this decision,” said Dale Bannon, National Community Relations and Development Secretary. “Canceling the conference also allows our local officers, staff, and volunteers to focus on serving their communities and meeting the increasing need associated with COVID-19. While this was a difficult decision to make, we believe it was the right decision given the global, rapidly-evolving health crisis.”

Peddle released a video message to Salvationists and friends March 20, encouraging them to “step up” at this unprecedented time of global fear caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—and as The Salvation Army responds around the world.

The same day, Commissioner David Hudson, National Commander of The Salvation Army USA, provided a briefing on how the Army is helping people around the United States through the coronavirus pandemic. 

Command Updates
Throughout the West, The Salvation Army has opened its facilities to public authorities for use as quarantine centers, housing for medically fragile individuals, food distribution locations, coronavirus testing, and any other services as needed.

Following a California Stay at Home order, Territorial Headquarters moved to a location-critical staffing pattern March 20. 

“THQ is continuing to function smoothly and support you in the field,” Hodder told command leaders.

On March 25, Hodder said he didn’t anticipate any delay in this year’s appointment changes, though they would be scaled back.

Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command (ARCC)
The West’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) Commander Major Henry Graciani reported March 27 that the West’s 18 ARCs are no longer doing intakes. Fortunately, the centers have not seen any cases of COVID-19 among the beneficiaries and regular cleanings have been increased, he said. While some centers have had a few beneficiaries leave the program, other centers are still at capacity. 

“All the ARCs, in effect, are closed campuses to protect the men and women in the ARCs,” Graciani said March 20, noting creative ways centers are engaging with beneficiaries during this time.

The Fresno (California) ARC has set up virtual counseling sessions via Skype, and at the Pasadena (California) ARC, counselors and sponsors have private rooms available for Zoom meetings. The Anaheim (California) ARC is converting its store to a shelter; the Santa Ana (California) Family Store has converted to a shelter and beneficiaries are helping pack food boxes. 

The Director of Retail Operations in Denver is working full-time for the Intermountain Division EDS and the women beneficiaries there are packing food boxes. The Riverside (California) ARC is assisting with EDS services. Workers from the Stockton and Oakland Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs) have been deployed for social services efforts.  

“ARC has been a big help,” said Del Oro Divisional Commander Major Ivan Wild.

Nationwide, all ARC thrift stores have closed, but are still taking donations, with ARC trucks accepting donations in the parking lot of some grocery stores. Other store openings have also been canceled due to COVID-19.  

The safety of our customers, donors, and employees is our top priority. For this reason, we have canceled our Huntington Beach Grand Re-Opening on March 19th,” wrote Major Charles Fowler in the Anaheim Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) newsletter. “We need support from our communities to continue to meet the daily needs of hundreds of women and men struggling with substance abuse and homelessness.Your donations and purchases will continue to help us respond to this situation.”

Alaska Division
In Alaska, cases of COVID-19 have quadrupled since last week, Alaska Divisional Commander Major John Brackenbury said March 23. This increase is believed to be a result of spring break travelers returning. As a result, The Salvation Army’s food and meals services have quadrupled across the state. 

The Army is working with state and local governments in Alaska to meet needs, including efforts to utilize the military to get food and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)s to more remote areas. 

“We’re working with the state and military to see if there are any ways we can bring in food via helicopters,” he said in March 17’s teleconference.

In Anchorage, The Salvation Army’s Older Alaskan Program (OAP) is taking the lead in feeding people living in a senior facility for those native to Alaska. Also in the city, the Army has been requested to feed and manage a downtown hotel to house those who are on mandatory quarantine. 

California South Division
In the California South Division, every corps has moved to online services, as of March 23. The division has created a tool to import videos into Sunday service, like traditional brass or contemporary music. 

Between March 20-21, the Army opened four new shelters for people experiencing homelessness in partnership with the city of Los Angeles, and California South Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel John Chamness said they were filling up.

In a Facebook video message March 17, California South Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel John Chamness said: “These are challenging times, but let me assure you all, The Salvation Army has been dealing with challenging times in Southern California for more than 130 years and we are determined to be there for communities in need during this COVID-19 virus pandemic.” He went on to say that the Army is mobilizing its resources to get food and supplies to people in need. “With prayer, and God’s grace, we will increase our capacity to help,” he said.

Cascade Division
In the Cascade Division, the need for food boxes has increased by 30 percent, and the need is great for diapers and diaper wipes. Cascade Divisional Commander Major Nancy Dihle said it was “heartwarming” Sunday to see the variety of church services offered throughout the division, the ministry of packing church in a box. “It was just amazing to watch that happen,” she said. 

The Cascade Division has partnered with Multnomah (Oregon) County to offer the building that formerly housed the Portland Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) to house those who are medically fragile. “We are excited about being able to engage,” said Cascade Divisional Commander Major Nancy Diehle in the March 17 teleconference. “We needed to really create a sense of safety in an environment that has become more and more fearful.”

College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont
CFOT Principal Major Nigel Cross reported March 27 that the cadets continue to assist California South EDS, serving from San Luis Obispo to San Diego including Torrance, L.A. Red Shield, Orange County and Santa Monica. The cadets are primarily sorting, packing and distributing food to the community, particularly to seniors. A revolving cadet team is also working at Bell Shelter, moving equipment and sorting supplies; three cadets are licensed forklift operators. 

The officers on campus are assisting with food delivery and care for the families there, especially those with children. In addition, they’ve made deliveries of food and toilet paper to the six Silvercrest residences in the California South Division. Meanwhile, the College continues to retool and move all its instruction online so classes can resume April 13.

The College for Officer Training (CFOT) at Crestmont ceased its normal schedule as of March 16 to allow cadets to assist with California South’s Emergency Disaster Services. Earlier, as a precaution, CFOT canceled the cadets’ annual Spring Blitz in the field. “We will do what is needed,” CFOT Principal Major Nigel Cross said.

The cadets first served at Bell Shelter (Bell, California) March 17 in the shelter’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) warehouse, led by Captain Jared Arnold, EDS Officer and Director of Business Administration at CFOT. Of course, as announced by Commissioner Hodder March 16, all Western Territory officers are now serving as EDS officers.

“I know that there’s going to be a lot of need,” said Cadet Amber Herzog. “I think being able to pre-stage out and get ahead of the demand for the corps is really important because then we are being proactive about it and when there’s need we’re able to just jump in our van and take it straight to them as opposed having to scramble and see what we have and then we’re making sure each corps has what they need.”

With the closing of schools in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, the CFOT Family Care Center is caring for cadets’ children full time. All CFOT officers are helping as needed, handling family care, feeding cadet children and alleviating fears of the children. Children in family care are also assisting in deployment by decorating prayer cards for food boxes for seniors.

Del Oro Division
In the Del Oro Division, the Suisun City Kroc Center preschool is providing childcare for emergency responders. One Army facility has been made available to the Red Cross to set up a blood bank.

In Reno, Nevada, the reservation there has reached out to the Reno Adult Rehabilitation Program (ARP) and requested assistance with basic needs.

Del Oro Divisional Commander Major Ivan Wild said across the division, the Army has increased its volume of distribution 15 times, and is in contact with the National Guard for manpower for food packing. 

Golden State Division
In the Golden State Division, counties from San Francisco to Monterey are on a three-week lockdown called “Shelter in Place.”

“It really is in between social distancing and social isolation, so only essential services are allowed in the county,” Divisional Commander Major Darren Norton said. “I’m happy to report every corps is open and functioning because we provide essential services that are needed.”

The San Francisco Kroc Center is now offering childcare to frontline healthcare and emergency response workers. The division is putting extra precautions in place in an effort to protect employees and residents of Railton Place, a transitional and permanent housing facility, said Major Mary Norton, Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries, on March 25. In addition, the division’s shelters are now open 24 hours so people can remain on the property and decrease the chance of outside exposure to the coronavirus. 

In Merced (California), a shelter that is not Army-run has asked the Army to come in and serve a meal each day. An apartment complex has also reached out to The Salvation Army to provide food to residences.  

“We have lots of different expressions going on right now with all of the corps open for basic needs and looking for unique ways to respond in those communities,” Darren Norton said. 

Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division
Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Divisional Commander Major Jeff Martin said the Revolution Hawaii team—based at Camp Homelani—will provide outreach and assist nearby corps during the week. The camp is available to the government as needed and can be used as a quarantine center. On Guam, where resources are scarce, Family Service Center staff are making their own hand sanitizers from aloe vera and alcohol. The Republic of Marshall Islands has no reported cases of COVID-19. “[This] is a blessing as they are considered one of the lowest on the scale of countries who can effectively deal with the virus,” Martin said.

Divisional Commander Major Jeff Martin said on March 25 a statewide “stay at home” order is now in effect through April 30 and all people arriving on the islands will face a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Corps are now offering online worship services. One corps delivered a worship service on CD with a food box to its congregation members March 23, and another offered a drive-up church service. Martin said there is an increasing need for food and hygiene products, and the division is advertising its need for donations.

Kona (Hawaii) Corps Officers Lts. Jose (Bob) and Raghel Santiago are seeing an increased need for food as some other agencies have closed their pantries and feedings. “Our food pantry has doubled or even tripled in people coming for help, and to keep ourselves—officers and volunteers—safe and healthy, we are asking people to come get their bag of food individually one at a time, we are wearing gloves, and we have asked that if somebody is sick, to write a note for somebody else to pick up their food for them,” Raghel Santiago said, also noting that they will continue to serve warm meals on Thursday evenings—with modifications. The food will be served in take-out containers instead of the guests sharing the meal together. For seniors and others who are homebound, they will deliver food and hygiene products.

“Since part of our ministry with the [Thursday] feeding is feeding the soul and spirit, we have decided to make and print out small devotions for people that usually come for “church time” before they get their warm meals, so that they will still be fed the gospel somehow,” Santiago said.

Intermountain Division
Following CDC and government recommendations, the Intermountain Division has canceled large meetings and some other non-essential group meetings. “The Salvation Army cares deeply for our clients, staff, volunteers and community,” Divisional Commander Major Mike Dickinson said. “While we’re here all year long, we are stepping up our efforts during this time of uncertainty to be there for those who need us.”

A call center for the division’s four states is now operating with six newly hired case managers to field rent and utility assistance requests, refer callers to local corps for food assistance and take information for those seeking emotional and spiritual care, which eight retired officers have been recruited to provide by phone.  

The division is hosting a 10-hour on-air virtual food and supply drive March 26 with FOX31 & Channel 2. Salvation Army staff and volunteers will answer calls from their home offices, accepting donations to help those in need—from $20 for a package of toilet paper for two families, to $50 for a hygiene kit for one family or $100 for a food box for a family for one week.

Further, the City of Aurora’s Connected Colorado TV station asked The Salvation Army to sit on a live Zoom panel today to share more about the Army’s emotional and spiritual care in this difficult time. Also in Aurora, a child care center for emergency personnel is opening at the corps in partnership with the YMCA.

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the Intermountain Division also dealt with an earthquake in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 18; an EDS team drove through snow to reach an ensuing wildfire. 

Northwest Division
Since it includes one of the early epicenters of COVID-19, the Northwest Division, led by Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Bill Dickinson, quickly adjusted how it conducts social services and worship services. Early on, in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties, senior activities were suspended through the end of March, in-person church services were suspended, and food bank clients will now register at the door before entering.

The Northwest Division is expanding its shelter programs in a number of cities as local governments continue to reach out to The Salvation Army for emergency assistance, Dickinson said. In one case, Dickinson said the city of Bellevue, Washington, is giving The Salvation Army $90,000 to assist with direct emergency services for people.

The Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center is providing virtual fitness classes and is asking members to continue paying their dues as a contribution to the Army’s emergency services. 

Dickinson said they are working to engage advisory board members through video conference and checked in with every officer in the division by phone March 24. He has encouraged all officers to livestream their worship services as a “stay at home” order takes effect in Washington.

Dickinson said in the March 18 teleconference the corps are seeing a 25 percent increase in food needs. In particular, the city of Bellingham closed its food banks, so more need is expected there. The City of Seattle is asking The Salvation Army to manage shelters in various locations. The Army has asked the city for hazard pay for shelter workers.

Many Salvation Army locations now deliver food or provide parking lot distributions; client choice pantries are not open. They are not requiring people to sign for anything; they simply help as needed.

The Tacamo (Washington) Corps has been asked to act as a quarantine shelter for 12 men exposed to the coronavirus. The Salvation Army in Everett and Bellingham (both in Washington) have been asked to open new shelters in April. The Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Kroc Center is functioning as a service center, and also helping with local post office deliveries. The Spokane (Washington) Corps is working with city and county governments on how best to use their vast campus during the current crisis.

Southwest Division
Southwest Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Kelly Pontsler reported March 27 that The Salvation Army is working with local officials to open up all the available space at the Las Vegas Owens Campus for people in need. In addition, they’ve been asked if they can make available for quarantine the 32-bed building formerly used for the women’s ARC; this will be handled separately from providing emergency beds. In total, about 600 beds will be available at the campus. The Las Vegas Owens Campus has always worked closely with its neighbor, Catholic Charities, which has closed its shelter; the Army has taken on 90 individuals from there. 

In Phoenix, The Salvation Army is working with the city to find a way to provide separate shelter for homeless clients aged 65 or older; there are about 75 such individuals and the hope is to isolate them more since they are at greater risk for COVID-19. 

The Phoenix Kroc Center will open March 30 as a daycare center for children of first responders, primarily medical personnel. The center will be able to care for 20 children. The Kroc Center is also teaching seniors—just a few at a time and respecting social distancing—social media skills so they can stay connected and avoid feeling isolated.

Pontsler said March 27 that the division is preparing for what will happen in a couple of months when the stays on evictions are lifted and people begin coming to The Salvation Army for rental assistance. She said they expect a flood of requests and want to plan ahead. Finally, retired officers have been enlisted to make wellness calls to senior-aged donors, and weekly Zoom calls are taking place with all the division’s officers to touch base and offer support and encouragement.

With the schools closed, The Salvation Army is helping the schools distribute food to children who might not otherwise have enough to eat. Pontsler said March 18 that the Estrella Mountain (Arizona) Corps and Hobbs (New Mexico) Corps are making great efforts with food distribution. The Hobbs Corps delivered over 300 food boxes in one day.

2 Comments

  1. Lydia Sarandan

    March 18, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    very well done…appreciate the update…encouraging and hopeful too!

    • Vinnie Olds

      March 26, 2020 at 6:51 am

      Thank you for the update, the information is very informative. Be safe and continue to Do the Most Good.

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