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Stories of Change

Bentonville Shelter 20th Anniversary Celebration

September 14, 2017

“Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.”

-Max Carver

(Bentonville, AR) 20 years ago, there was a need. Northwest Arkansas was growing, as companies like Walmart, Tyson and J.B. Hunt pushed the economy forward. Bentonville, AR, a once small community, began to see unparalleled growth.

But not all felt this swell of positive change. As the general population increased, so did homelessness. And there was no refuge for them. The community saw this need, and through the work of The Salvation Army and local partners, a plan was born to build an emergency crisis shelter in Benton County. In September of 1997, the shelter was officially opened to the public, dedicated in honor of Pat and Willard Walker, visionary philanthropists in Northwest Arkansas and strong supporters of The Salvation Army’s work.

20 years later, the community comes together to celebrate the immense impact made in the lives of the hurting and broken through the work of The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter in Bentonville. In the past decade alone, the shelter has provided 75,982 nights of housing to over 7,600 guests, and it continues to meet needs in the community each day.

Mayor Bob McCaslin of Bentonville opened the ceremony Wednesday, September 6th with an invocation, giving thanks to God for the refuge The Salvation Army provides to those in need in Northwest Arkansas. Mayor of Bentonville, since 2006, Bob McCaslin has seen the work of the Bentonville Emergency Shelter in action in his community for over a decade.

Following the invocation, the Bentonville Chamber of Commerce performed a ribbon-cutting ceremony as Captain Joshua Robinett rededicated the Bentonville Shelter to the work of the Lord in Northwest Arkansas.

Attendees were then taken on a tour of the building. They saw where the men congregate to play games and watch TV before heading to their assigned bunks in the dorm room. They toured each family room, walls lined with beds and cribs, that have lulled so many children experiencing trauma to sleep. They got to touch the books, toys, and desks where students work on their homework and play with their siblings, trying to forget the hardships they have endured. Each shelter guest who comes through the doors holds a unique story, but all are seeking refuge. Providing the community with the opportunity to see, hear, and feel those hardships personally as they walk room to room cultivates compassion. And compassion is a catalyst that begs one not just watch need pass by, but rather, inspires action and compels change.

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20 years ago, a need was met in the community of Northwest Arkansas. And needs continue to be met every day. Therefore, “we rededicate this Salvation Army Emergency Shelter for the service of God, the communities of Northwest Arkansas, and those in the greatest need.  May it continue to be a beacon of hope and healing to the vulnerable and hurting for many years to come.” -Captain Joshua Robinett. May it always be a place that sparks empathy to act, and action to make a difference.

Shelter Tours: A fall learning series

August 10, 2017

Dear Community,

Please consider joining us for our fall series: Shelter Tours.

We will be hosting several meet and greet tours this fall to share about homelessness in our community and The Salvation Army’s work to aid those in need.

A Few Facts:

  • As of 2017, there are approximately 2,951 homeless in Northwest Arkansas. Over HALF of that number is represented by children in K-12th grades.++
  • The homeless population in NWA has increased by 152% since 2007, whereas, the general population has only grown by 12%.++
  • In 2016, we provided over 24,217 nights of shelter between our two Emergency Shelters.
  • Additionally, we provided 93,590 meals to men, women, and children who experienced food insecurity.

++Statistics from the 2017 Point-In-Time survey conducted in Northwest Arkansas.

Join us on one of our shelter tours this fall to learn more, ask questions, and better understand the experience of the homeless in Northwest Arkansas. RSVP is not required.

Women & Family Dorms Spruce

May 30, 2017

The big reveal is finally here, and we are so excited to show off our newly renovated spaces! We have a few thank-you’s that we want to make before we show it off.

  1. Our Women’s Auxiliary did a wonderful job at the annual NWA Boutique Show this past year and raised over $11,000!! The largest portion of our renovation budget was provided by them.
  2. Genesis Church- They have been the best partners we could ask for, and this renovation is no exception! They gave time, money and supplies to make it happen. Thanks for painting our walls, providing our ceiling tiles, paying for the flooring and more!
  3. Carpet One- The team at Carpet One did a lovely job laying our new flooring. Really, it is like a whole new space in there.

And nowwwww… the REVEAL!!

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–Before–

Women’s Dorm

Women’s Dorm

Family Dorm

Family Dorm- bathroom

Women’s Dorm- the progress

Genesis Church helpers

Fabulous new flooring from Carpet One

–After–

Women’s Auxiliary Members in the Family Dorm

Women’s Dorm- bathroom

Family dorm and child’s welcome kit

Family Dorm- bathroom

Thank you, thank you to everyone who made this possible!
We are a happier, homier shelter because of your generosity.

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!

 

 

 

Finding Serenity

October 6, 2016

My addiction was fine for a while.
But it’s like everything else. Every other addiction progresses and gets worse and worse and then it finally catches up with you.

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The Journey

I lost a great friend, a guy I had known for a long time, grew up with, in a car wreck in October 2014. Then lost my mother in January 2015. Lost Nanna in February 2015. And an oldest brother to suicide in March 2015. And I put on a fine face during the whole time but it was eating me up. I was mad at God. Mad at the world. I ended up in the hospital and called my Reverend.

I knew The Salvation Army was the place I needed to be. I jumped into the spiritual side of it, not just the AA side of it. I needed God in my life. I needed him back in my life. I had lost all faith and all hope. 

It was a pretty big burden, but it just depends on your perspective of it. It was bad at the time but brought me back to where I am today. It’s what it took to get me back.

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Can you describe how you felt before the program and how you feel now?
Lost. Empty. I had lost all faith and hope.

And now how do you feel?
Serene. I just kind of go with the flow with whatever God has got in store for me. And, I mean, it’s all glory to God.

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What is the greatest joy that you have now?

The opportunity that Major gave me [to be employed by The Salvation Army]. Being able to stick around and be able to be a vital part of the Salvation Army. To be a part of the team. The reason that I am strong is the reason the Salvation Army does what it does. To be just even a small part of that, is a great feeling. It’s a great cause. Helping burdened families that have lost everything. Being able to show them that we do care. To be a part of that, it is a pretty neat feeling.

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“He is doing something for a reason and I don’t know. I will eventually know the answers but today I don’t and all I can do is trust. And that is what I’ll do.”

Women’s Auxiliary Provides Shelter Renovation Funds

September 28, 2016

It’s been an exciting month at the Fayetteville Shelter- renovation day finally arrived!! The Women’s Auxiliary chose the shelter as their first project and used the funds raised from the NWA Boutique Show last fall to provide the space with a whole new look!

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“The Women’s Auxiliary functions as a fundraising and volunteer service group, assisting The Salvation Army in meeting the needs of others at their point of need,” says Major Mary Matthews, Associate Area Commander and director of the group. “This Chapter was established in March of 2014 and since then has already made a significant impact in the lives of thousands through programs provided by The Salvation Army.  

Their most current project, just completed, was the renovation of the Fayetteville Emergency Shelter intake and day room.  This was the first large project taken on be the Auxiliary women and was a much needed update!”  

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The women have been looking forward to this renovation day for months and are excited to finally see the room put together.

What’s up next for this amazing group of ladies?

“We are currently in the development stages for our 1st annual fundraising event (May 2017)  which will support a new program called Pathway of Hope.  This program addresses the root causes of poverty through individualized services to families hoping to break generational cycles of crisis and vulnerability. This program fits the missional purpose of this Auxiliary which desires to make a generational impact in the lives of families (women & children). -Major Mary Matthews

 

BEFORE & AFTER

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We are so grateful to the women who helped make this happen and look forward to more great things out of the Women’s Auxiliary! To learn more about the organization and how to join, check out our webpage http://salvationarmyaok.org/nwarkansas/auxiliary-board/

 

 

Family Room Adopted by Local Church

August 1, 2016

The Neighborhood Church in Bentonville seeks to make an impact in their community and in their neighborhood everyday. And what better way to reach the neighborhood than to connect with the homeless shelter right down the street from your new building location!? That’s how we got connected to this amazing group of people-they reached out, they asked to be a part, and then they came!

“At the end of the service, we often say ‘the worship is over, but the service is not’. We want to be present in our community and to impact lives.” Cheryl and Colleen, The Neighborhood Church

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The Neighborhood Church adopted one of our three family rooms at the Bentonville Shelter. All decorations, furniture, and linens were provided by them! The room truly has a whole new feel. It’s like walking into an updated apartment rather than a room an emergency shelter.

“Giving back like this makes a bigger impact than you’ll ever know. When people come in and see a nice room it calms anxiety and helps them move from a state of chaos to stability, from despair to hope.”
Danny Camarillo, The Salvation Army, Bentonville Shelter Director

Take a look at the before and after shots! And a huge thank you to The Neighborhood Church for taking that first step and making a difference for your neighbors!

Neighborhood Church Before and AfterTNC Update 2

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Easter through the Eyes of an Addict

March 21, 2016

In planning and anticipation for Easter, I often forget to sit back and truly reflect on the tragedy, loss, exhilaration and restoration that mark Holy Week. Rather than being invested in the story of redemption, I seem to focus on the events going on in my world: the candlelight service, the yummy lunch or the Easter egg hunt that will shortly follow.

This year, I don’t want to let the week go by unnoticed. I want to remember the beautiful story of Easter, an event that happened several thousand years ago and yet is more relevant to today than any other story. This story brings freedom, light, belonging: it brings life.

People have remarkable stories if we will simply ask, if we will simply listen. I thought who better to tell the story of freedom and light than those who recognize their bondage and have found a way out! So I asked several of the men in our addiction recovery program….

Why is Easter special to you-

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“It represents Jesus and his rising after 3 days. It’s a very special day. It’s special for me because he rose, so I am saved. And this Easter is more special because I am free of a lot of things: free of my addictions and everything else. And knowing that my twin daughters can see that is very special.” -Larry

“Easter is when Jesus was resurrected, and that’s where my faith is: in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. And this Easter is more special, because I am surrounded by Christian people.
For the past few Easters, it was just another drunk day. But not this year, it’s more of a celebration. It’s back to the basics!” -Michael

“It means freedom. Freedom from sin. I used to be in bondage and I don’t have to be anymore because of our great Savior, Jesus Christ. I can be confident and full of hope.” -Brett

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William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army said, “I will tell you the secret: God has had all that there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, even with greater opportunities, but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with me and them, on that day I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in The Salvation Army, it is because God has had all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.”

Now, that is something to celebrate this Easter: the lost, the broken, the hurting and the poor being given hope and life though the Gospel of Christ and through his church. Not through the efforts of man, but through grace.

Transformation

February 22, 2016

One of the most incredible things The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas is able to offer is a free Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Program. Here’s a little info on our program:

  • It is a 6 month, faith-based work therapy program.
  • We currently offer 16 beds.
  • It is totally free of charge to the men who attend.

Brian is going to tell you his story. But before he does, will you just take a moment to celebrate with us?! In the last two weeks, we have had two men graduate from our program, and we have another FIVE up for graduation over the course of the next four weeks! We are beating the odds! For a quick look at drug abuse statistics in America, check here.

Now, for a story about a life changed that is guaranteed to change your life.

Brian 1

How did you find The Salvation Army?
I was in my third drug and alcohol treatment program. They had all been thirty day programs before this one [at The Salvation Army]. I called a man named Jim Reaves, a good, good man. He helped save my life. I told him they wouldn’t let me leave my program unless I had a sponsor to talk to when I got back to Northwest Arkansas.

He told me to come see him as soon as I got back in town and we’d talk. He owns Razorback Pizza, so we met at the one on 6th Street, and he told me about the [Salvation Army] recovery program. That was in 2000.

But between 2000 and 2002, I had to do what we like to call “research”. I was stealing stuff, lying, cheating; I was a pretty vile character. I had been down that path before but not to this extent. And that was after I had already gone through three recovery programs.

In 2002, I hit rock bottom.
I snuck into my daughter’s bedroom and stole money out of her piggy bank so I could buy alcohol or drugs or whatever I was longing for at the time. It was heart-breaking but it wasn’t enough to curb me. Addiction is pretty strong.

Finally, I went through the program and graduated December 26th of 2002. And I have been here since that day!

Brian 4

Did you want to be in the program when you started in 2002?
To be honest with you, when I came here to stay my four months for the program, I was not there to get sober. I thought, “OK, I’ll go through the program and do what I need to do to make people think I am getting sober”.

But this is what proves to me that God is gonna come find you wherever you’re at.
I was lying in my bunk one day thinking about how I could get away with [my addiction] better the next time rather than latching onto a cure. If I could just hold on a little longer, and get away with it a little better where I don’t get caught next time, things will be OK.

But God came to me, and he said, “No, I have better plans for you.”
He said, “We are building an army out of the sick, out of the oppressed, the lonely and broken-hearted. There are other people out there going through the same situation as you are. They have gone down the same roads that you’ve gone down, and they are going to learn something from the pain that you’ve gone through.”

What makes this program work?
The first thing that has to go is all the junk [in your heart]. Once the confession was there, the healing began. Once I met Jesus at the foot of the Cross, then healing came. And real, genuine love- I could finally understand it. It was a life changing event.

Then there is the absolute love that the men in the Corps (church) have for the people in the program. They took care of my family while I was in the program. They paid bills. They pretty much put themselves out there to help me and my family be successful. Their love made me want to come back. It really stuck strong with me.

Also, the camaraderie of the men that I went to the program with was way different than anything I had ever experienced before. We were all actually invested in changing our lives and the lives of people around us. It’s amazing how beautiful it is when everyone around you is of a like mind. There is no judgment. All we were trying to do was please God.

Briand 5

What do you currently do with The Salvation Army?
I head maintenance for Northwest Arkansas Area Command.

By trade, I am a master electrician. I prayed to God that if The Salvation Army was where He wanted me to serve, then He would open a door for me. I was in between jobs when the new Major came in and they presented me with a job.

It is such a blessing that I never thought would come true. I am around the program guys every single day. I actually get to work with one of them! I get to tell them what the Lord did for me and what he can do for them. I spend time with them, because that’s what was done for me.

What would you say to addicts who are struggling?

You have never gone too far, to not be brought back.
There is absolutely no distance that you can go, which you can’t come back from. There is no depth too deep that God won’t bring you back from if you seek him. And that’s the truest thing I’ve ever said.

Living sober is absolutely attainable; it’s not impossible. Once you move from one side of the fence to the other, life is so much better. The worries are less, the stress is less. There are so many benefits to living a sober lifestyle. It is indescribable.

Brian 6

What would you like to tell our community about The Salvation Army?
God is moving in this place. People are being helped; lives are being changed. There are a million things I could say, but I think the most important is that lives are being changed for the good.

I saw a picture one time.
It’s simple but it blew my mind.

You see the sea of despair. There are ten foot waves and people all in it. Up the valley there is a line of people, hand-in-hand, all the way to the edge of the water. The people who just came out of the water are dripping water, and they are reaching their hands down into the sea to pull the drowning up this hill.

And that’s the way it is here. Exactly how it is here.

The love that these guys showed me when I was a horrible, horrible person and didn’t deserve anything was amazing. For them to love and accept me for who I was, to try and lead me in a different direction, that meant everything in the world to me.

That’s why I keep hanging out with the guys here.
Cause I love them, and I am one of them.


Is someone you love in need of transformation?
Please give us a call at 479-521-2151.

Want to give back to men in recovery?
You can donate online here.