How much good can a shoebox do? Answer: The Most Good.
MaryAnn, with the help of St. Bernard in Bella Vista, Bella Vista First United Methodist, and Bella Vista Presbyterian Church, has been helping The Salvation Army shelters in Fayetteville and Bentonville for years by packing shoeboxes with daily essentials for men, women, and special needs shelter guests.
The Shoebox Program in Northwest Arkansas began in 1989 in the home of Bud and Dorothy. The program was used to assist the homeless and those in great need. MaryAnn took over the program and moved it to her church, where she then started packing shoeboxes out of a closet.
“We ran out of space in a hurry because we added more programs,” said MaryAnn, “at first, the churches were just used for packing the boxes.” In these boxes, church members and donors packed toiletries, razors, shaving cream, band-aids, books, combs, deodorant, soap, shampoo, tissues, women’s personal products, and much more.
MaryAnn didn’t stop with The Salvation Army; she went on to distribute these boxes of supplies to elementary schools, 7Hills, Peace at Home, NWA Children’s Shelter, NWA Women’s Shelter, and anywhere she saw the need in Benton and Washington Counties.
MaryAnn described the help of Karen, Diane, and Cheryl to be intricate in the success of the Shoebox Ministry. With a program reaching so many, a strong support system goes a long way.
With the help of MaryAnn, Karen, Diane, Cheryl, First United Methodist, St. Bernard, and Bella Vista Presbyterian Church, The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas’ shelter guests never go without basic necessities. Together, we are Doing The Most Good and fighting homelessness in NWA.
If you would like more information about homelessness in Northwest Arkansas and what The Salvation Army is doing to combat it, call our office at (479) 521-2151.
Addiction. How is there so much power behind one word? How can one word control someone’s life to the point where it takes years to overcome this one word? The road to recovery is never easy. There are often many obstacles standing in the way between addiction and recovery, including homelessness.
When COVID-19 hit and businesses began closing in March of 2020, Princess found herself homeless, sleeping in the bushes outside of a hospital in Siloam Springs following a night of sickness after a shot of dope. Princess had nowhere to go and didn’t know what steps to take.
This launched Princess into a spiral of not knowing where she would be night after night. Facing drug abuse, alcohol abuse, poor living conditions, and even life-threatening situations, she stayed with six different people in just three months before finally finding herself at The Salvation Army of Fayetteville in June.
Even while at The Salvation Army, Princess still found herself struggling with her drug addiction. She would get high, leave for a while, then come back to sleep it off.
“I been in and out of [The Salvation Army] probably six times in just a year… I would get high or something and feel bad and felt like I was being disrespectful. I had to look at it like that,” said Princess.
Traci, Princess’ case worker, worked tireless hours getting Princess on a list to get a voucher from the Housing Authority, as well as putting her on the Hark list.
Princess had multiple applications and lists for housing and felt overwhelmed reviewing them and making a decision. When she finally got approved to move in to one of the many she applied for, she was shocked.
“I didn’t show a lot of excitement because I was trying to take it in. Anything good that happens to me, it’s hard for me to accept it right away because I’m so used to getting nice things and losing them so fast. It’s scary to get new things anymore because I don’t like the feeling of the loss,” said Princess.
The challenge facing addiction is still present in Princess’ day-to-day life. It’s never an easy battle and some days will be harder than others. Princess hopes that by having a place of her own, she will be able to remove herself from harmful situations.
For anybody facing addiction, Princess has found that you can’t always be the anchor for some else’s ship, and you must remove yourself from the source of the problem.
“Put yourself first. It’s the right time to be selfish. And social distancing is not only for COVID,” said Princess. “Thanks to everybody at The Salvation Army, you guys are helping me change my life. It’s a struggle, but it’s happening. You guys gave me chance after chance, and you didn’t make me stay out there and suffer.”
If you or anybody you know is facing addiction or homelessness, please call The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas at (479) 521-2151.
When you think of social work, what do you think of? Do you think of long nights, wondering where someone is or how they’re surviving the night? Do you think of the possibility that you might not be doing enough? Do you think about love, compassion, strength, healing, and hope? Because that’s exactly what a social worker is.
We want to take the time on World Social Work Day to highlight our amazing social workers and all they do within our organization.
Verna, Chevonne, and Traci have been cornerstones to an extremely difficult year, but the three didn’t realize their calling right away. Verna remembers her job being a “God thing” as she wasn’t specifically looking for a career in social work.Now she’s been with The Salvation Army for 10 years.
Traci earned her first degree in kinesiology, where she became a successful gymnastics and cheerleading coach. She realized her passion for helping others when she saw some of the less fortunate children wanting to participate in school sports and activities. Traci started a program based on fundraising so these children could participate in cheerleading and gymnastics. She later went back to school to add a degree in sociology, so she can work with adults trying to turn their life around.
Chevonne worked in an attorney’s office, helping people from many different backgrounds. She found herself looking for resources for people that didn’t have an income. This helped Chevonne realize her passion for helping others.
Being a social worker can be one the most difficult jobs, but that makes the successes that much more rewarding.
“The success of someone being able to find a new home and job [is the most rewarding]. Just to see them be able to enjoy their life. To be able to go from being stressed, worried, and homeless, to having a home and be self-supporting,” said Traci, who has been with The Salvation Army for seven months.
But along with success comes challenges. The world of social work isn’t always pretty. Chevonne has been with The Salvation Army for a year and says there is one thing that never gets easier.
“The most difficult part is sometimes not having enough financial resources to help everyone that needs help,” said Chevonne.
Patience and passion are resounding key words in our social services department and to anyone wanting to pursue a career in social work. Verna says that you must be incredibly patient. Traci says you must believe in the cause of wanting to help people. Remain passionate. And Chevonne says to find your skills and passion and pursue them entirely.
When you think of social work, think of the men and women working tirelessly to see a change in your community. Think of the love, compassion, strength, healing, and hope that social work provides. Thank you, to all social workers, for making this world a better place.
If you or somebody you know needs assistance, contact The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas at (479) 521-2151.
In a time of unprecedented need, The Salvation Army is still doing everything they can to provide hope to the homeless. From distributing food boxes to hungry families to giving someone a roof over their head, The Salvation Army works around the clock to show love and support to any friend in need.
That’s exactly what Patricia and her son, Richard, needed. A friend to help them out of homelessness. Someone who could walk them down the path and provide the opportunity for a new beginning.
For some, the path through homelessness can be a long, complicated journey. It can come and go with the snap of your fingers, and it can be a battle to get permanently out of. Richard had been in and out of homelessness since he moved to Northwest Arkansas almost 12 years ago.
“I went through [The Salvation Army] drug and alcohol program a few times. That’s how I got to know The Salvation Army,” said Richard.
Patricia and Richard stayed at The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter in Bentonville for six months, where they met Ms. Traci Temples. Traci, a case worker for The Salvation Army, helped Patricia and Richard get back on their feet after over three years of homelessness.
“[Patricia and Richard] came and filled out all their necessary paperwork; they were really good about getting all their paperwork in and doing their tasks every week, and this is the end result,” said Traci.
Patricia talks about how she loves the people at The Salvation Army. She loves the help they’re able to give to not only her, but everyone in need. The Salvation Army is much more than a shelter. It’s a support system.
After not having a place to call your own, moving into your own home or apartment can be quite emotional. It delivers a sense of freedom and accomplishment. A sense of excitement.
“[I’m most excited about] having my own freedom, having my own place. It’s something I can say, ‘this is my place. I did it. Finally, I’m in a place now out of the weather… I’ve been through a lot out there on the streets. I’ve been robbed twice. It’s not a place for anybody to be,” said Patricia.
Patricia and Richard will have a place to call their own for the first time in three years. They’re wanting to start looking for chairs and furniture for their new apartment as soon as possible and are excited to start decorating. They hope some of the people that have helped them throughout their journey will come visit them in their new apartment.
If you or somebody you know is needing assistance in Northwest Arkansas, please call our office at (479) 521-2151 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM-5:00 PM.
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 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 Fayetteville’s Shelter/CSRC Director with The Salvation Army, and does tile work on the side.
Brandon said that coming to The Salvation Army and working there 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.”
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.
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 www.nwasalvationarmy.org/volunteering.
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!
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, 2018at 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.