When people think of The Salvation Army, many think about Thrift Stores, the ringing of bells at a Christmas Kettle and helping those in need. While those are large components of what The Salvation Army does here in Kelowna, there is a whole lot more as well.
The Salvation Army has been a part of the fabric of Kelowna for the past 100 years. Since 1919, it has been providing help and hope to the residents of this community. Did you know that, first and foremost, The Salvation Army is a Christian church? In Kelowna, the church is located at 1480 Sutherland Ave., and each Sunday there is a service at 10:30 a.m. that the community is welcome to attend. There are weekly programs for children, youth, adults and seniors.
During a study conducted in 2016 by Dr. Mike Daly of the Halo Project, it was assessed that based on the programs and services offered by The Salvation Army in Kelowna, that there was a $5.6-million-dollar economic impact on the larger community, which is in addition to the emotional and spiritual support provided to local residents.
As an extension of the ministry of the church, the Community Life Centre (CLC) provides a place where practical support is given to residents daily. Food, clothing, furniture and household goods are provided free of charge to those in need by way of the local Salvation Army Thrift Stores. While these are typically the catalyst reasons for people to walk in the doors of the CLC, there is much more that takes place as guests meet with staff.
“The CLC is a place of hope,” community ministries co-ordinator Sonia Withers says. “As people meet with a case worker, what we often discover is that there are significant underlying concerns that need to be addressed. Loneliness is having a significant impact on people’s lives. While we feel ‘connected’ through social media, more and more individuals feel that they simply do not have people in their lives with whom they can be real, with whom they feel connected.”
Isolation, addiction, grief and financial concerns—these are all issues that case workers assist guests with on a daily basis. There are many individuals who come into the CLC regularly because they know it is a safe place where they will be accepted and loved—without discrimination. All services are provided based on The Salvation Army resources and capacity to help regardless of age, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
Also housed at the CLC is the Community Response Unit. This mobile kitchen is part of The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services. During times of disaster, whether it be the fires of 2003 to 2018, when there have been evacuations both in our community and around our province, the floods of 2017 as well as other provincial and national disasters, the Kelowna Salvation Army has been there to provide support. A trained team of volunteers support both evacuees at reception centres as well as provide meal support to first responders on scene at disasters.
Our Thrift Stores provide low-cost goods to the community as well as employment for many local residents. All proceeds from the Thrift Stores go directly back into local Salvation Army programs and services. When you donate to and shop at a Salvation Army Thrift Store, you are providing food to a family whose cupboards are bare; a winter coat to the child heading out to school; a bed for those who have been sleeping on the floor; a backpack filled with supplies to a child starting that first day of a new school year; a safe space for those who are walking a journey of grief to come and find support … and SO much more.
“We are so deeply grateful for how this community continues to step-up to care for its most vulnerable citizens” says Capt. Darryl Burry, the lead pastor and executive director. “From financial donations to the donation of time through volunteer service, we could not do what we do without the support of this community.”
As the Christmas season approaches, The Salvation Army is once again putting out the call for volunteers.
“We need people who are willing to take a two-hour shift to ‘ring bells’ at a Christmas Kettle,” Burry said. “We would like to throw out a challenge to organizations and businesses to ‘Adopt a Kettle’ for a day to raise funds for families in need. But we also need people to volunteer year-round to support our food reclamation program, our emergency disaster services and to assist in our Thrift Stores. There really is something for everyone.”
To learn more about The Salvation Army in Kelowna, to get involved or to donate, visit their website at www.kelownasalvationarmy.ca.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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