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Difference Makers

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.




A Heart for the Salvation Army

December 25, 2017

In November, one of our faithful volunteers, and a member of the Women’s Auxiliary of NWA, Twyla Burt, took on a challenge at her workplace to highlight why she volunteers with The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas. This video was entered into an international competition for DHL’s Got Heart. Although we didn’t win the big prize, this video gave us great exposure and showed people around the country and world how we are making a difference here in Northwest Arkansas. The child in this video is an example of a family who benefited from receiving food, clothing, and diapers provided by our social service office. When we tell our story, it makes a difference!! Thanks Twyla!

Twyla Burt DHL’s Got Heart Video from Salvation Army of NWA on Vimeo.

JBU Founder’s Day

April 18, 2017

It was such an honor to join together with John Brown University for their annual Founder’s Day celebration this past week, commemorating the rich history that joins our two institutions. Founded in 1919 by John E. Brown, JBU celebrates their 98th anniversary this year and honors the birthday of their founder through this annual celebration.

Major Dan Matthews (Area Commander) and John Brown III (Former Chancellor of JBU, grandson to John E. Brown)

But what is that rich heritage we share, you may wonder? It was through the ministry of The Salvation Army that John Brown came to know Christ. Brown attributes The Salvation Army with his conversion after they put on a revival meeting May 15, 1897 in Rogers, Arkansas.

John Brown, 1897

After a long day at work, Brown was at a café with some friends when he heard the beating drum of The Salvation Army minister calling those in the city to his open-air meeting. Though not the first time he had heard this summons, that night, Brown was intrigued and followed the minister. Brown would later recall:

“…on the night of May 15, 1897, I made the decision that has so wonderfully changed my life. I am lost in wonder, and to this day, I cannot explain nor do I understand the wonderful workings of God.”

After, Brown not only joined The Salvation Army as a staff worker but moved to Siloam Springs, where he set up an outpost. Brown later left his post with The Salvation Army to pursue full-time, traveling evangelism, and would eventually come to found Southwestern Collegiate Institute – what is now known as John Brown University.

Through the years, this institution has impacted thousands of young lives and multiplied the message of the gospel. It is this foundational groundwork that the present-day members of The Salvation Army of NWA and John Brown University celebrated.

Dr. Kim Hadley (JBU, VP of Finance and Administration), Major Michelle and Cpt. John Robbins (The Salvation Army, Springdale), John Brown III (JBU, Former Chancellor and grandson of founder), Majors Dan and Mary Matthews (The Salvation Army, NWA Area Commanders), Dr. Ed Ericson (JBU, VP for Academic Affairs)

Major Dan Matthews and John Brown III spoke for the student body at the chapel assembly followed by a short reception. We were able to present this print to the university, an image of William Booth (founder of The Salvation Army) in his early ministry, in honor of the evangelistic work of John E. Brown’s early years of ministry.

“We are so grateful for the mission of JBU and for the crucial role that The Salvation Army was able to play early in John E. Brown’s life. God’s work is always multiplied- he causes it to remain”. -Major Dan Matthews

We truly believe that God worked through The Salvation Army to mold a young John E. Brown, who would later help mold the hearts and minds of thousands of young men and women through John Brown University.

The Women Behind our Work

March 22, 2017

March is National Social Work month, as we mentioned last week, and we want to take some time out to thank the women who keep our social services running! Our case workers, Jeri and Verna, serve the impoverished, homeless, and down on their luck each and every day. They work hard, love well, and give of themselves daily.

So “cheers!” to our case workers- and thank you for what you do!

Meet Jeri

She is our caseworker in Fayetteville and Springdale and has been serving with The Salvation Army for a year. She has worked in social services for 17 years in diverse disciplines, such as children with disabilities and corrections.

I was an education major and switched to Social Work because I realized I like working with the whole family and not just the child. What I want (in a job) and what I have here is coming to work and it not feeling like work.

Why do you do what you do day in and day out?

Because I have been on both sides (of social services). As a recovering addict myself, I can relate. I have been a single mother, and I have been on that side of the window many times. I know how it feels to be in that situation.

How has does being on “both sides of the window” inform your work each day?

I don’t want people to feel judged by their caseworker, or like they are less than. Everyone has their time of need. Maybe not this year, but you never know when that might happen: when it could be you. I’ve needed utility help, I have needed social services. I have needed rehab services. I have had all of those, and it makes me able to relate to my clients in a deeper way and with respect.

What do you want people to know about social services that they may not know or expect?

Caseloads are overwhelming. And people may think that social workers see their clients as a number or a stack of papers. But that’s not the case. It is hard to keep up sometimes, but they are not a number to me. They are a person, a family, a life. I listen to what they have to say to me… I hear it.

I don’t think the job is hard, because at the end of the day, I feel fulfilled. I try to steer [my clients] in the right direction to get services [they need]. Understanding them, having been in their shoes- that is what makes it easy for me.

and Meet Verna

Verna, our caseworker in Bentonville and Siloam Springs, is going on her 7th year with The Salvation Army. She began as a part-time caseworker and has since become full-time.

Why do you do what you do?

I love to help people and hear their stories. I meet all kinds of people coming through our social service office, and I really do love to do what I can to meet their needs.

I didn’t even really know about the great needs here in Northwest Arkansas until I started working here. And I’ve lived here!

So thank you from the bottom of our hearts to these two amazing women who make a difference in our community each day! Social Work would not be the same without you! Happy National Social Workers Month!

Are you in need of assistance?

  1. Call 479-521-2151
  2. Ask for social services in the city where you LIVE
  3. You will be transferred our relayed the direct line number for our offices across the region
  4. Make an appointment

We help with…

  • Electricity bills
  • Diapers
  • Food
  • Prescription Med Assistance
  • Furniture for house fires
  • Coats in the winter
  • Box fans in the summer

To see all of our Social Service Locations and numbers, read >>>> here.

National Social Work Month

March 15, 2017

The official definition of Social Work according to the International Federation of Social Work is as follows…

Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance well-being.

However, it is so much MORE than that! Social Work is defined by the amazing men and women sacrificing each and every day to serve the needs of others. It is filled with joy, exhaustion, sorrow, warmth, pain, commitment, discomfort, and contentment. But most importantly, it is PEOPLE giving to other people.

Social workers are everywhere. And they are changing our world.

The job is not glamorous. It does not pay generously or receive grand recognition in the media. Social Workers are not often in the limelight, in fact, they often go unthanked for the hard work they put into their job, both physically and emotionally.

So in honor of National Social Work Month, we want to take the opportunity to thank the caseworkers who serve the homeless and impoverished on our behalf here at The Salvation Army, along with the hundreds of other social workers in this community who are making hurting lives whole through their service.

Tune in the next few weeks to meet a few of the case workers on our staff who champion what they do and make a difference for our clients every day!




Our Community

December 23, 2015

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It has been an amazing Kettle Season here at The Salvation Army and we want to share it with you! We cannot make a difference in NW Arkansas without the support of our community. This Christmas blog series has introduced leaders of change, but truly, each and every individual who has served alongside us this year is #afaceofchange to us. We want to highlight many of the amazing memories and moments we have experienced this season: the heart-warming stories, the laughter, the joy, and the people who have supported us. Thank you for bringing the Christmas Spirit to Northwest Arkansas. Thank you for being our #redkettlereason!

Merry & Bright,
The Salvation Army of NW Arkansas

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Why do you guys want to ring bells?

“I want to ring bells to help get money for people who do not have houses.” -Hudson (5)
“I want to ring because I never did it before. And because I want to sell money!” -Oliver (4)

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Paul Bingham, Senior Vice President Sales, J B Hunt Transport

“This experience has really changed my perspective on the significance of ringing the bell for The Salvation Army. So many times I’ve just walked passed the Red Kettles without giving it much attention…that will never happen again. This is my first time to volunteer for the Red Kettle event, but definitely won’t be the last!”

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Laylah, 4 year old Kettle enthusiast

“Mommy, I want to put more (change) in,” said Laylah.
“I don’t have anymore!”
“Then let’s put your (credit) cards in there!”

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Lindsey Strong, PR Director, The Salvation Army

“While ringing the bell one chilly evening, this young lady walked up and offered me some hot chocolate! Her mom told me that it was her idea to give back this Christmas by driving around to all the bell ringers and giving them hot drinks. She quickly became my #redkettlereason!”

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What is your #redkettlereason?

“We want to ring the bell to help everyone have a great Christmas and warm clothes because everyone deserves to have the things they need!” Kalli (8) and Teagan (6)

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Pi Beta Phi Sorority

Congratulations on being our Panhellenic #redkettlecompetitions Champions! We hope you guys enjoyed our yummy kettle-corn prize!

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Dawn Rodriguez, Administrative Assistant, The Salvation Army

“As I was ringing the bells with my kids, a gentleman walked up to the Kettle. He said that he was homeless, but that he had stayed at The Salvation Army in the past and they were good to him. He wanted to give all that he had, but all that he had was $.11. He put it in, and I told him that his $.11 was worth a million to us because he gave everything that he had.” 

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Fayetteville native, Natalie Counce speaking at the 2015 Rock the Red Kettle Event in L.A.!

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Vai Talau

December 16, 2015

Vai is a senior at Fayetteville High School. He is a member of the FHS wrestling team and works hard in school! He loves to hang out with his friends and wants to make a big difference for the hurting and broken in his community.

If you were one of Santa’s reindeer, which would you be?
I would definitely want to be Rudolph. Because one, that’s the only reindeer I know. And because he is different; he’s an exception in the group of reindeer. Everyone made fun of him, but he is the difference maker!

Does your family have a traditional holiday food that is unique?
We cook duck instead of turkey. Duck to me is like a finer chicken- it’s amazing! Once I ate it, I was hooked. We roast it, just like a turkey, but it’s a duck.

How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Compassionate: It’s how I was raised. I have a lot of sympathy for people- my heart really goes out to them. I really do enjoy helping others.
Reckless: Cause I am young! I don’t really make dumb decisions but I think [being reckless] is a part of being a teenager.
Funny: Not to be cliché, but I think I’m funny!


Who is your role model and why?
Definitely my mother, because she perseveres through everything. She motivates me every day. Even though she drives me crazy sometimes, I still love her to death. She’s made it through it all, really. Through impossible [situations], she made it possible. I really look up to her for what she has come through, what she is doing for our family, and for raising me to be the man I am today.

How did you get involved with The Salvation Army?
During the summer, I always drive past it going to my friend’s house. I’ve always had a calling to go help the homeless and get involved in the community. I got my friend Kelson and asked him if he wanted to embark on a new adventure with me. So we went out and signed up to do volunteer work at The Salvation Army.

My heart brought me to The Salvation Army: I got a call and I can feel it in my soul. This is what I want to do in life. This is an avenue that I want to pursue. I want to get into helping the community and then I want to be a voice for the people.

I would love to go to school to be a Human Right’s Attorney and a Psychologist. Put that together and I can help folks and defend them. I want to be someone they can go to.

The first time I served there we worked for a little bit alongside a staff member and then took a break. During that break, he told me his life story: how he was an alcoholic, how bad his childhood and family were, and how the program worked for him. He gave me a fresh perspective. He had it rough, and he makes me want to help. Every time I serve, we end up talking about our life stories, and every time it’s like a new light bulb in my head. It’s a humbling experience. It changes my perspective because I always talk to someone new.


What is your #redkettlereason?

I want to make a difference in a corrupt society. I want to help give people a hand up, give them a hand that no one ever gives them. I have a call, and I want to be the hand that picks them up.

I love helping others! Giving someone hope they’ve never had before is great, because you know you helped that person feel better that day. You make a difference in people’s lives; that’s why I do it.

What advice would you give to another student who wants to make a difference in NWA?
Step out of yourself and consider [taking on] a fresh perspective. It’s hard in high school because the notion is that everyone is trying to jump-start their lives. They are wrapped up in themselves and are wrapped up in their lives. My advice is to really think about how you can help someone else. You can donate money. Or think about your skills: what can you do, build, or create to help another person? You can give people hope and purpose.

My role is to influence others, not force, but influence them.

You can create a spark in someone’s mind. The best way is to [serve] together with someone. It’s not about ‘you’ or ‘I’, it’s about us. It’s hard to get a revolution going, but my role is to demonstrate [service] so that they can join. I know a lot of kids that do want to help. It’s not conventional, but we want to make a change.


Bill Copelin

December 10, 2015

Bill is a Northwest Arkansas native and has been working at JB Hunt for 30 years! He began as a Management Trainee in 1985 and is now the VP of Transportation. He and his wife have one son and are avid supporters of The Salvation Army! He currently serves on the Advisory Board.

If you were one of Santa’s reindeer, which would you be?
Blitzen- it’s the only one I can remember besides Rudolph!

What Holiday song lights up your holiday season?
So I like two more traditional songs: “White Christmas” and “Silver Bells”. But I also love “Silent Night”. And “Oh, Holy Night”. Mariah Carey really sings that well!!

How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Predictable: Because I see the relevance of doing things a certain way that give you a better outcome. So I trace those steps just about every day.
Persistent: If I believe in something, my passion goes with my vision.
Strategic: I am more of a big picture and ideas kind of guy!


Who is your role model and why?
As a Christian, I would say Jesus is my role model. It builds my faith just hearing his words, “only believe”. He makes it simple, and then he goes out and does it to show us that it’s possible. And I think it can be done. In my life, I have seen instances where miracles took place, and it’s through everyday people.

That’s part of what I really like about The Salvation Army. Their services offer an environment where people are generally more relaxed. Needs are more apparent, and regardless of the gifts you’ve been given, there’s a place for that gift. They find where it interacts with the needs in the world. We all have needs that must be met, and only the Gospel can do that.

How did you get involved with The Salvation Army?
One day I was here and I was going to lunch. I felt a prompting of the Holy Spirit to call the Salvation Army Corps in Springdale and offer to take them lunch. I called, took their order and showed up.

I really thought I would go in for 10 minutes and go on my way, and my day would be complete.

But when I walked in there, they told me that the electricity went out in their kitchen that day, and they would have had to do without lunch. “It’s so interesting that God put it on your heart to bring us lunch”, the officers said. I looked around and saw the people being served and the officers, and I could see that there was more than enough to go around in trying to reach the needs. So one thing led to another and here I am… 10 years later!

I went home and told my wife about it, and we decided to begin attending [The Salvation Army] church. We taught Sunday School and got to know people. Lives that needed to know that they mattered, from the old and weak to the young and vulnerable. It’s a very worthwhile walk that The Salvation Army does for each community: it’s invaluable.


What is your #redkettlereason?

The Salvation Army is God’s hands and feet, his heart and his voice. Of the organization’s I know they are the ones who most holistically reach out to those who are vulnerable.

We see pictures of people, but there are stories behind every person that really connect us. That really means something. There was a young boy who could not get close enough to my wife and me when we went to church there. His brother had special needs. They were early adolescence, and we noticed that they would eat a lot at the church potlucks. We found out that their parents were getting government assistance, but they weren’t using the money to pay for the boys’ lunch at school. They were hungry. The Salvation Army stepped in and made sure that those boys got lunches at school.

Another day I was there, this mother came in and she was frantic. It was freezing outside.  She had two or three little kids. A few things had tripped her up; she was a working single mother, but she just couldn’t pay her bills that month. The heat was going to be turned off, and she needed a miracle that day. The Salvation Army stepped in and paid her heating bill and kept her kids from being cold. That’s a miracle for that family.

I also know a number of people who have gone through the drug and rehabilitation program. I have seen people, who were affluent enough to have their own business and family, but tragedy struck and their ability to cope with it put them in a situation where they lost everything. They were humble enough to go through the Christian Drug and Rehabilitation Program that The Salvation Army supplies. Now they are working, back on their feet, and building back their lives.

What advice would you give to another business man or woman who wants to make a difference in NW Arkansas?

Get involved. Make a commitment. Step out of your schedules and be intentional!

You can give of your time, talents and resources in your home, neighborhood or workplace. Be ready in season and out whether it’s convenient or not. When I was young, I was more wrapped up in my career. It took time for God to soften me and show me that I can give back and live my faith.


Is there anything you would like to add?
I want to express my gratitude to all the people who give fully of themselves in their love for mankind. Those who let go of the world and hold onto the Kingdom. The Salvation Army is a great example of that. One man cared about the souls of people in England, and because of his vision [The Salvation Army] is now around the world.

It goes to show you that nothing is impossible with God.

Natalie Counce

December 1, 2015

Meet Natalie Counce!

She is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas and a Fayetteville native. She is currently studying business and serves as the Assistant Philanthropy Chair for Kappa Kappa Gamma.

If you were one of Santa’s reindeer which would you be?

Rudolph! I want a song that’s after me! I think I might be a little embarrassed if I had a red nose, but Rudolph is a leader, and I would like to consider myself a leader. He also seems kind of clumsy, and that’s me too.

Does your family have a traditional holiday food that is unique?

Well, my sister is very proud of her green bean bundles so we have those. Also, my mom makes the most amazing cheese grits.

How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?

Involved: All my friends would agree with that. Sometimes it is hard for me to find 15 minutes because I’m (constantly) jumping from one place to another. I like to be involved and invested; it’s a good use of my time.

Determined: I do not take defeat lightly. That motivates me in a lot of ways to do well. I love school. I am a nerd. It brings out the best in me I think, when I put a little pressure on myself. I want to do really with what I am committed to.

Loyal: I am definitely a quality over quantity type person. Whether that’s with friends or the things that I like to do, I am loyal.

Who is your role model and why?

My dad is my role model. He is so accomplished and well-rounded. I really look up to him a lot. What he has done in his life is amazing, and he has a lot of integrity, which I think is the coolest thing. He is a strong man of God and determined and he works hard, and he’s nerdy like me. I really hope that people would say that I have those same qualities.

How did you get involved with The Salvation Army?

I first knew about The Salvation Army in the capacity of the Red Kettle. What kid doesn’t like to grab the change out of their mom’s purse and put it in the kettle? My aunt always took me to do the Angel Tree too. We would go shopping all over for gifts, and I just remember thinking it was so cool. Giving can bring so much joy!

When I wanted to start taking ownership of my service, I immediately thought of The Salvation Army as a place where I wanted to give back. It started off as a coat drive with a really small school in the 7th grade, and I continued to do drives throughout high school!

I also did pageants for a couple of years and my personal platform was ‘Community Soldier’, in reference to being a soldier for The Salvation Army in my community. My platform was to spread awareness of what The Salvation Army does and to show how easy it is to give back. I think a lot of people see it as a big task to donate or give their time, but it can be very rewarding if you follow through with it.

[Through my pageants] I was able to do a lot of things. I helped with disaster relief in a small town called Cincinnati, AR when they were hit by a tornado. Volunteers were helping with food, and I got to be a part of that. I’ve worked in the shelter a few times. Last year, a few friends and I made cookies and passed them out at the shelter over Christmas break… it was so fun! They were joking around with us and telling us what kind of cookies they would prefer for next year. It was a blast!

What is your #redkettlereason?

Because giving is simple but the impact is big!

I think ringing the bells represents Christmas Spirit, The Salvation Army, and the people they are helping. It’s so cool because I have been invested in [The Salvation Army] all growing up so to be able to see this time of year when everyone recognizes The Salvation Army is really cool. I think about The Salvation Army year round, but a lot of people just think about it at Christmas.

What advice would you give to another University of Arkansas student who wants to make a difference in NW Arkansas?

I would say take initiative. Know that you can start something yourself! It may seem like a big task, but honestly, there are so many people to help you. It can be as simple as telling people to bring you coats. Take it as your responsibility to provide [for the community]. That’s why I have been so involved with The Salvation Army! It’s exciting to build upon what started as a small thing.

Everyone has some way to give, whether it’s time, money, or physical items. I think people don’t realize that it is easier than it seems to make a big difference. Take ownership of what you are doing and be proud of it!

Did you foresee making such a big influence?

My first coat drive, I got about 100 coats. My second one was 50 coats, but I did more and more (of them). A few years ago, before I was even in a sorority, I talked to the director of Greek Life about what I was doing. I asked if the girls coming in for orientation that year would bring a coat with them. We got over 1,000 coats! It was so successful and I never thought it would be something like that.

Taking initiative, and taking advice from other people- you never know where it could lead.
Start small and it could turn into something big!

Is there anything you would like to add?

I love these coats drives. Even though it is just an article of clothing, a coat represents a lot: warmth, comfort and security.

And that is exactly what The Salvation Army is there to do. They provide warmth, a safe place, and security to people in need. The way they do that is very tangible.

They are the hands and feet of Jesus. They are helping the community by meeting their physical needs. A coat may be exactly what one person needs that day. It may save them. The Salvation Army is there to help people in need and to be there no matter what the circumstance. I love The Salvation Army for how basic that is but how impactful it is.