The Salvation Army is committed to “doing the most good” in the community. That commitment drew Salvation Army officers and staff from Greater Philadelphia, as well as Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, to The State Capitol in Harrisburg on October 25, to share with legislators the work The Salvation Army is doing to better the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians every day.
120 Salvation Army representatives met with their local representatives and office staff to discuss the need in their respective area and describe the important services they provide to residents such as food assistance, housing, social services, anti-human trafficking efforts, senior citizen and youth community programming, emergency disaster services.
“The Salvation Army provides programs and services in every single zip code in Pennsylvania. It is important that our legislators understand how we are helping to meet the needs of the underserved and impoverished throughout our communities,” said Lt. Colonel Stephen Banfield, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. “We must continue to strengthen our valued relationships with lawmakers so we can work together to positively impact those we serve.”
A special program in the rotunda at noon featured testimonials from individuals whose lives have been changed by The Salvation Army across Pennsylvania, including Diane Bennett, a client in the Pathway of Hope initiative. Pathway of Hope is an intensive case management program that helps motivated families achieve self-sufficiency. With tears in her eyes, Diane told the crowd how The Salvation Army’s guidance and assistance allowed her to get back on her feet and provide for her son.
“I feel extremely secure in my life because of Pathway of Hope,” she said.
In 2015, The Salvation Army provided nearly 1 million meals and over 320,000 nights of emergency housing across the state of Pennsylvania. It also served more than 840,000 individuals through its various community center programs. According to the Human Needs Index, a new and dynamic resource consumption evaluation tool created through a collaborative partnership between The Salvation Army and Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the need for basic necessities among disadvantaged populations in Pennsylvania has increased in the past ten years. Approximately 1 in 7 families in Pennsylvania live in poverty today.
“Meeting human needs, with compassion, caring and love… transforming lives… that is the essence of The Salvation Army,” said Major Tom Duperree, General Secretary, The Salvation Army of Eastern PA and Delaware.
Jim Ellis, a renowned swim coach who was instrumental at turning out nationally ranked African American swimmers in the 1970s and is the subject of the feature film, Pride, also addressed the crowd. Ellis has been a swim coach at The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center in Philadelphia since 2010. But his connection to the Army is much deeper than that. He explained how The Salvation Army’s Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP) has had a positive impact on his 42 year old son, Sean. Diagnosed with autism and intellectual disabilities, Sean is a DDP client living under staff supervision with another disabled individual. A beaming Ellis proudly asked his son and two DDP staff members up to the podium with him and called them “the best team.”
“This is why we help The Salvation Army,” Hughes said. “We create effective partnerships in this building (The State Capitol) to make sure we’re all in a better place.”
“We support you, we thank you, we applaud you,” he added.