The Salvation Army Forms Hope out of Hopeless Situations

October 23, 2020

Brandon Smith faced addiction head on from a young age. He went to ten different rehabilitation programs throughout his life. Born and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Brandon lived in a loving home. He started smoking marijuana at the age of 16. At 20 years old, Brandon’s dad gave him the option of either joining the military or moving to Alaska; Brandon chose to move to Alaska where he lived for two years. At this point in Brandon’s life, he was still highly addicted to marijuana. He moved back to Fayetteville where he then got married and had a daughter. Brandon broke his back in 2002, which then launched his overwhelming addiction to opioids.

Brandon was getting pain medications from five different doctors at one point, not only taking, but selling the prescriptions. He slowly lost all the support of his family. After his mother passed away, Brandon had nowhere to go. He ended up homeless and living in the woods behind The Salvation Army in Fayetteville.

“Nobody would talk to me when I was homeless. I was still getting pills while sleeping in a tent. The only thing I ever did was go get pills and live in a tent,” said Brandon.

Brandon owed over $19,000 in fines in Fayetteville and Rogers and owed another $500 to Siloam Springs to get his drivers license back. Brandon described it as being so overwhelming because he had so many things hanging over him, it just felt like he couldn’t stand back up.

The Salvation Army was Brandon’s tenth and final rehabilitation program. Pastor Nick Arrouqi told Brandon that he believed in him. He cried and prayed over him. Brandon claimed this to be a huge motivation in his road to recovery. He didn’t want to let Pastor Nick down.

For weeks Brandon prayed every single night. He begged God to remove the obsession from his life and then he would try to stay sober. He would pray this same prayer for two hours every night for three weeks. After this prayer, Brandon moved to a different prayer; “God, if You remove this obsession, with Your help, I’ll stay sober.” Finally, Brandon realized what he had to do. He prayed the prayer of, “God, I promise You I will stay sober if You remove this addiction.” He strived to keep this promise to God.

Brandon started reading his bible and working hard on building up his character. He didn’t want to fail anybody, especially God. Each week he worked harder on a different character flaw.

“I would catch myself lying over silly things and have to tell the person, ‘sorry, I just lied about that,’ and I would add up the number of times I caught myself lying and try to improve on it each day,” said Brandon.

Brandon described the cross of sobriety as one of the most important and helpful things for him in the program. This cross represents God, A.A., character and hope. Each week, you would work on an item under each category. For example, to add to your character, one week you might do a nice thing for another programmer every day of that week. For A.A., you might write down a few things that are holding you back. For hope, you might put something you pray to happen. And for God, you might pray for your brothers every night. This would continue for 12 weeks until you’ve done 12 things in each category.

Immediately after graduating from the rehabilitation program, Brandon started teaching a class at The Salvation Army on Monday nights, looking to help others in need just as he was in need. He now has mended his relationship with his sister, brother-in-law and three nephews and is hoping to work on his relationships with other friends and family members. Brandon currently lives in his own home, works full time as an intake specialist with The Salvation Army and does tile work on the side.

Brandon says that coming to The Salvation Army and working here is what keeps him sober. He feels that this is the only setting where he has ever truly felt in place.

“Anybody that is currently addicted to opioids should go get help,” said Brandon. “You’re welcome to come talk to me. No matter how far down you’ve gone there is a way out.”

You can listen to Brandon’s story on 90.9 KLRC.

If you or somebody you know has an addiction and is seeking help in Northwest Arkansas, call The Salvation Army of NWA at (479) 521-2151 or read about our rehabilitation program here.

The Salvation Army Provides Hope and A Home for the Homeless

July 8, 2020

“I don’t want to see them die because of dangers in the streets…” said Ronda during her interview. “I appreciate everything The Salvation Army has done for me and want to see others who are homeless housed as well.” Ronda gave her permission to tell her story to help The Salvation Army facilitate others to reduce and eliminate homelessness from Northwest Arkansas. 

For some clients, the path from homeless to having a home can be very twisted, with many ups and downs on the journey. In Ronda’s case, it was a long-time coming. Ronda lost her RV home in a storm and for over five years, she lived by creeks and in wooded areas between shelter stays. Over time, her connections with her daughters and her grandson, were damaged, as well as her identification, medical history, and material possessions lost due to theft and the weather. Worsening the issues of her homelessness, Ronda has physical and emotional challenges along with issues of addiction. 

Ronda met Dawn Rodriguez in January 2018 at The Salvation Army homeless shelter in Fayetteville. Dawn was assigned as Ronda’s case manager with the goal of moving Ronda into permanent housing. 

At the time, The Salvation Army in Northwest Arkansas’s shelter was changing focus from an emergency-based shelter to a ‘housing focused shelter.’ Under the leadership of Captain Joshua Robinett, Area Commander for The Salvation Army, the change was and is significant. The new program utilizes consolidated/intense case management for all clients in coordination with other local nonprofits and churches for client services in the local community. Each client is tracked and monitored to help the client move from homelessness to self-sufficiency. 

When Ronda began the ‘housing focused shelter program’ with The Salvation Army, she even needed help with basic life essentials of doctor’s appointments and transportation. Because Ronda’s disability limited her range of motion in her arm, Dawn and the Social Services team including Ambra, Greg, Brandon and the housing monitors, ensured she had the resources to bathe and even brush her hair for her. 

Dawn, now the Administrative Assistant and Human Resources Manager for the Northwest Arkansas Area Command of The Salvation Army, shares, “Ronda for me has been a rewarding yet complicated challenge. At one point in time, Ronda wasn’t seen by any of The Salvation Army staff for two weeks. We were so worried we began calling around to the hospitals to see if she had been admitted. As The Salvation Army has been named her emergency contact, we were able to find her.” 

Dawn continued, “However, she reminds me no matter where we are or where we were, anything can happen, and in a moment our entire lives can change. Through all our time working together over the years, she has been the one I wanted to see housed and even through changing job positions I knew I would continue working with Ronda until she was housed. There was no giving up.” 

Now, Ronda has new living quarters available for her through the Housing Authority with rent based on her income. To maintain her quarters, she must follow program rules. When it became clear Ronda was going to be able to be housed, Genesis Church helped with household items, and The Salvation Army took Ronda to The Salvation Army Family store to decorate and furnish her new home. Ronda now has her own bed, can take a shower when she wants, fix her own food, decorate her home like she wants it – a luxury to Ronda, a necessity to the average person. 

Also, Ronda never has to be fearful of theft or harm, her apartment is in a safe and secure area with security on site, near the police station, with after hour guests buzzed in. There is case management support onsite as well as transportation available. The Salvation Army Case Managers follow up with their clients at one, three, and six-month intervals to ensure they are still stable. The Salvation Army even provided Ronda an additional safety net, with her identification being lost or stolen so many times, The Salvation Army helped her to gather her important documents, keeping copies of them safe until needed. 

The best news of all is that Ronda is reuniting with her family. Now that she is in an apartment of her own, she has been in contact with one of her daughters and was even able to speak to her grandson. She is hopeful she will be able to see them soon. 

Ronda still visits The Salvation Army shelter in Fayetteville regularly, sometimes up to three times a week to just say hi or eat a meal at the shelter with some of her friends. The Salvation Army staff has become her family. It took a team of devoted, kind-hearted staff members to establish Ronda in permanent housing. The Salvation Army not only invested the time, they provided and continue to provide emotional and spiritual support, basic necessities for life, and yet most importantly, they continue to demonstrate compassion and commitment to Ronda, caring for her as the individual she is and showing the love of Jesus in everything they do. 

Dawn Rodriguez, wanted to share the success of the program, “ It took all of us working together to do this. Yes, I did a lot of the one-on-one as her Case Manager, but it is what we here at the Northwest Arkansas Area Command were able to do under our current leadership that has really made the greatest change. We have been given the opportunity to go outside of the box and address each client on a case-by-case basis . This approach is resource intensive; it requires us to drive clients hours away to appointments or to wait with them at medical appointments because our clients have no one else to rely on for help”. 

Dawn related that the cost of this type of programming is “unimaginable and often means we don’t have funds for the small things like brooms or cleaning items for those we are housing.” She went on to compliment the Northwest Arkansas Community. “Sometimes, we reach out on Facebook for help with specific needs and have luck at times. However, to continue to transform our community, we also need the support of our community, our donors and the media to help those who need it most.” 

The Salvation Army is still a safety net for Ronda and will continue to be so. Although this is no a traditional case, it truly encompasses The Salvation Army carrying out the mission and ministry we are called to do and meeting human needs in His name without discrimination.

Volunteer Spotlight: Maggie Berry

July 2, 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Maggie Berry, Rogers, Arkansas

When Maggie Berry retired after 40 years as a medical professional, she wasn’t exactly sure how she would use her free time to make a difference, but she had a few ideas. With a love for arts and crafts and a desire to restore forgotten or used items, Maggie said that God laid it on her heart to share her time with The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas.

It didn’t take long for store manager Kari Luff to find the perfect place for Maggie to begin creating – the extra stock room at the Rogers Family Thrift store. This room is a gathering place for donated wreaths, ribbon spools, floral arrangements, and various odds and ends. Often, it is where items that need a little TLC or some extra glue end up. For Maggie, this space has become a sanctuary where she can create, restore and find a way to share kindness through creative design.

During the past three months, Maggie has volunteered more than 100 hours. If you stop by our store, it won’t take long for you to find an item that she has fixed, designed or restored.  From custom-painted shutters to refurbished tables and chairs, to carefully designed wreaths, gift baskets, and windows, there seems to be no limit to what she can do, much to her surprise. “I didn’t even know I could do all this stuff,” Maggie shared with a laugh. “Sometimes you get so stuck in a rut and think you can do only one thing, but you can do so much more.” For Maggie, retirement has allowed her to reconnect with her creative side, and she is enjoying every moment.

When asked why she volunteers Maggie’s answer is simple, “I volunteer because God gave me these wonderful gifts and skills that I can use to help people. For me, it is about spreading kindness, and our world needs a little more kindness.”

Volunteering with The Salvation Army helps Maggie get to know her community better. Each week, she talks with customers, staff and the men who are in part of The Salvation Army’s rehabilitation program.   In many ways, Maggie’s work represents the transformation that is happening in the lives of so many people but especially for the men in our recovery program who came to The Salvation Army to find hope and healing.

“Our society is such a throwaway world. We want to throw away things that are used or broken – even if they might still be useful. For me, it is wonderful to see how you can repurpose or reuse something and shared kindness at the same time,” Maggie shared.

Proceeds the pieces Maggie restores, and other items purchased at The Salvation Army stores, help provide food, shelter, and resources to support our free drug and alcohol recovery program. If you have an interest in volunteering, let us know, we’d love to get you connected with our team. Learn more about volunteering with The Salvation Army of NWA at

Spring Transformation for Bentonville Shelter

May 24, 2018

It is a beautiful thing to see life change in action. We see this often as we meet with people who have lost hope. Individuals who have had a rough turn of events or who have hit the end of the road because of addiction. People continue to seek out The Salvation Army as a place to find hope and help.  A recent transformation to our garden and landscaping at our Bentonville shelter in many ways represents the change that is happening for guests at our shelters.

This spring several volunteer groups helped us transform our indoor and outdoor spaces. Volunteer teams from throughout the community took our overgrown garden and brought it back to life, groups helped repair our men’s bathroom, de-weeded the entry and provide fresh mulch for the entire front portion of the shelter. These changes are an encouragement to us at The Salvation Army but even more so to the guests who walk through our doors. Below are some before and after photos that capture the improvements.

Thank you to teams from Walmart, the United Way, Neighborhood Church, and some key volunteers like Julie Carr, Tom Richards and Ken Mangold. This wouldn’t have been possible without you!
Thank you for your generosity, time and skill!

Garden Transformation


Front Landscaping & Mulch


Bathroom Repair & Pantry Organization


Summer Brings New Client-Choice Pantry & Meals for Fayetteville Kids

May 18, 2018

New Client Choice Food Pantry & Summer Program
Kids, parents, teachers and really everyone looks forward to Summer – taking a swim at the local pool, heading to camp, enjoying some time off, and simply changing up the routine. And while Summer is often a highlight, it can also be a challenge for families and kids who are short on food.

To help meet the needs of our community, The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas has partnered with Fayetteville Public Schools (FPS) to identify and provide meals for kids who are home during the summer months. Our new client-choice Food Pantry in Fayetteville will officially open Friday, June 1 at 9 am. FPS families, who signed up through the school district, will have the opportunity to “shop” the pantry every Friday for 11 weeks at no cost.

This is the first client-choice Food Pantry for The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas and it offers a whole new way to think about food insecurity. “We are excited to begin providing food for families in this way. Often times families are given a box of food but the items inside may not fit their needs in the best way,” said Captain Josh Robinett, NWA Area Commander. “By opening a client-choice food pantry we are giving families dignity and caring for their needs on a more individualized basis. This helps us love and care for the people of our community even more.”

The Salvation Army Client-Choice Food Pantry will be open every Friday, June 1 through August 10 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. The pantry will be housed in our  Activity Center building located at 219 W 15th street, Fayetteville, AR. Each week the pantry will be stocked with food options that kids and families can easily prepare for breakfast and lunch. Additionally, this pantry will provide for Washington County clients throughout the week by appointment.

To celebrate the opening of this pantry, we are hosting a Ribbon-Cutting on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 10 AM. All are welcome to attend and tour the new pantry space.

This project would not be possible without support from the Walmart Foundation, the NWA Food Bank, The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, Fayetteville Public Schools, and many volunteers. Together, we have been able to develop a summer program that will meet the needs of hungry families in our community. During the past three months, our team has worked to create this new shopping space. The project has included a complete remodel of our warehouse, the installation and addition of refrigeration coolers, lighting and shelving, plus the addition of many new food products – which will be added throughout the summer.

As we begin this new program, we are looking for volunteers to help stock the pantry and serve as shopping assistants each Friday. If you’d like to help in this way, please sign up for a shift here, or give us a call.

For more questions, please contact us at 479-521-2151 x 103, email

Salvation NWA Hosts Spring Shelter Tours & More

March 14, 2018

This spring The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas invites you to get an inside look at our shelters and services as part of our 2018 Spring Tour Series. In addition to providing a tour of our facilities, which currently hosts an average of 60 people per night, you’ll also hear from community leaders who are helping address homelessness and fight food insecurity in Northwest Arkansas.

Our spring tour series begin on Thursday, March 15 at the Fayetteville Shelter, and Thursday, March 22 at the Bentonville Shelter. As part of this tour, Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick from the University of Arkansas will present information about the state of homelessness in Northwest Arkansas. Dr. Fitzpatrick is the director of The Community and Family Institute (CFI) in the Fulbright College of Arts and Science for the University of Arkansas. This group researches information related to homelessness and food insecurity in our community.

Anyone in the community is welcome to attend these free events. Tours will take place from 12:00 to 1:00 PM on March 15 and March 22, light snacks will be provided. Our spring tour series continues April 19 and 26; and May 17 and 24, 2018. For more information contact Jennifer Brown at or Dan Miller at


Learn more and sign up for a tour at


Salvation Army Tour Dates

Thursday, March 15  – Fayetteville

Thursday, March 22 – Bentonville

Speaker: Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick, University of Arkansas | Topic: State of Homelessness


Thursday, April 19  – Fayetteville

Thursday, April 26  – Bentonville
Speaker: Arvest Bank, 1 Million Meals campaign | Topic: 1 Million Meals Campaign


Thursday, May 17  – Fayetteville

Thursday, May 24  – Bentonville

Speaker: Angela Belford, Chair of NWA, COC | Topic: Continuum of Care and Homeless Prevention


Shelter Locations

Fayetteville Shelter: 219 W 15th St. Fayetteville, AR 72701

Bentonville Shelter: 3305 SW I St. Bentonville, AR 72712


A Happy Heart & a Warm Home

February 14, 2018

“I am back on my feet now, February 2018” were the opening lines of a Valentine’s Day card we received at the Salvation Army offices just a few days before the holiday. Our hearts filled with joy seeing these words from a woman who spent time at the Salvation Army shelter during the summer of 2017. “I so appreciate your wonderful staff and ministry. You gave me shelter, food and encouragement when I was homeless for eight days in July. You were a God-send,” our guest shared.

It is moments like these that remind us of the why behind what we do. By providing a shelter bed, a warm meal, and encouragement to people in immediate need, we can be a resource and a place to where people discovery hope. This guest is just one of many during the past year who have been able to move from emergency shelter to a permanent home. During 2017, in Fayetteville alone, we were able to help 183 people find housing.

This Valentine’s Day as you sit down to enjoy an evening meal, we hope you will take a moment to think about and pray for people who might be waiting for a place to call home. Today our hearts are full as we continue to see the hope that our emergency shelters can provide.



Local Elementary Students Bake for Good!

January 17, 2018

Learning to cook is a life skill that truly makes a difference. And this month, local elementary students not only learned about the science, math, and details that go into baking bread but they also learned about helping others who might be hungry, thanks to the King Arthur Flour Bake for Good project.

This month, both the Fayetteville and Bentonville Salvation Army shelters received freshly baked bread made by students and families in Northwest Arkansas. In all, five local elementary schools participated in the “Bake for Good” program that teaches kids about baking by providing flour, materials, and instructions on how to make bread of various sizes and shapes.

Fourth and fifth-graders are given a kit to take home over the weekend and encouraged to bake a loaf for their family and make an extra one to bring back and give away to a local organization. Lowell and Tucker Elementary in the Rogers School District, and also Lincoln Elementary, donated bread to the Salvation Army. This freshly baked bread is quite the treat to people staying in our warming centers (on extra cold days) and also to guests staying in our emergency shelters overnight.

“We are encouraged when we hear about projects like this, where families and teachers work together to help meet the needs of hungry people in Northwest Arkansas,” said Captain Joshua Robinett, Area Commander, Northwest Arkansas. Both the teachers and students at the school said they “had fun” making the bread and were excited about helping people in need here in Northwest Arkansas.

Not only did the Salvation Army benefit from these young chefs but several other local food pantries also benefited. Mathias and Grimes Elementary donated bread to the food pantry at Grace United Church in Rogers. Tucker Elementary also donated bread to the food pantry at First Baptist Church in Lowell.




Red Kettle Wrap Up for 2017

January 5, 2018

For the 2017 giving season, The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas raised $361,829 as part of its annual Red Kettle campaign. Donations collected at Kettle locations in Northwest Arkansas equaled $352,161 with an additional $9,668 coming in through online gifts for this campaign. We concluded our Kettle season at 86.1% of our goal of $420,000.

“We want to thank each community in Northwest Arkansas for their generosity this year. As the kettle season came to an end, we asked for your continued support and many people stepped up to help make a difference. Your financial support will allow us to continue to provide for people when they need it most. This means providing shelter from the cold, food for the hungry, clothing and utility assistance for families, and hope for men seeking to break free from the bondage of addiction. We enter 2018 with much anticipation as we look for new ways to meet the needs of people here in Northwest Arkansas,” said Captain Joshua Robinett, Area Commander, Northwest Arkansas

Not only did people give generously this season as part of our Red Kettle campaign by many companies, churches, groups and families gave their time as bell ringers to make a difference. Thank you to everyone who joined us this Christmas season.


Angel Tree Volunteers & Supporters Who Made Christmas Possible

January 3, 2018

We cannot stop thinking about what a great Christmas season we had at The Salvation Army. This year, more than 21 companies (and various teams and departments) took the challenge to collect gifts in their offices and even volunteer for hours in our chilly warehouse.

Below are a few of the photos we captured of teams helping make Christmas possible. If you have a photo of your team you’d like to add to our gallery, please email these to us here.

Thank you to these companies and teams that went above and beyond to make Christmas possible for 2,200 kids and senior adults: Walmart (area stores, Home Office, Global Business Services, Relocation, Auditing, IT & Marketing teams), Sam’s Club, JB Hunt, Tyson Foods, Oakley Chapel United Methodist, Hewlett Packard, Holy Trinity Church, UArk – Greek Life, Student Support SVC, Pinnacle Country Club, Fastlane Entertainment, Transplace, Heritage High School, Mondelēz International, Rogers High School, SERCO, Behrents Endodontic Specialists, McClelland Engineers, Procter & Gamble, Flake & Kelley, Black Hills Energy and The Mars Agency.

In addition to some incredible gifts, Schmieding Produce donated thousands of bags of potatoes and Tyson Foods gave 7,680 whole frozen chickens and also Schmieding Produce that provided 20,000 lbs of potatoes.


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