’tis the season // to help others // the salvation army

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Debbi DiMaggio

The Salvation Army serves a great number of children, families and individuals in need. The goal of the Oakland Chapter is to give a Hand Up, Not a Hand Down and to Make Poverty Uncomfortable.

Take a moment to learn more about the many programs provided by the Salvation Army; I think you may be surprised, I know I was. I actually had no idea the variety of services provided by the Salvation Army. Thank you to long time friend, Peggy Huntington and board member Mary Theroux for inviting me to a charity luncheon this Christmas season at the Claremont Country Club – Pageant of the Trees – a lovely luncheon, fundraiser and presentation. Of course, hearing the story told by a dad who was served by the Salvation Army was incredibly touching and as always, made me want to help.

Today I had a chance to visit the Garden Center community and tour the campus. The facility includes a kitchen, library, small gym, computer lab, conference room, play room, a church, ministry services, day care center and houses 16 families, some rooms more decorated than others. I couldn’t help but ask if they needed more volunteers and resources to design any of the other rooms that sadly were sterile but still spacious. (Watch out stagers, here I come!)

This Salvation Army program was a testament to the good will, hard work, dedication and passion of those more fortunate (whether that may be in terms of education, family upbringing or job status) helping those in less fortunate circumstances. This is just one of the programs serving Oakland’s underprivileged. As Captain Kim noted, “it’s very hard for our clients to break the chain after generations and generations of poverty and living in rough circumstances.”  As noted above, the Garden Center campus provides housing, computers and day care while creating an environment of support, kindness and generosity. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a hand out — there are rules and there is structure.

One of the things that touched my heart were the children at the day care center– just watching their happy full faces while pushing food into their tiny mouths and looking up to us with big smiles as we walked into the room. I hope this Center will be a start for these young children and their parents to learn how to break the cycle as they see, feel and gain a strong desire through the support, services and examples set by the Salvation Army, and that they continue to work towards broadening their education and setting goals to keep their jobs as well as a roof over the heads of their families. Through the guidance of the Salvation Army it is their mission and great hope that these parents and individuals will find their dignity.

Lastly, one of the things I learned during my visit was that if you know or see someone in crisis or in need of a social service but do not know what that service may be– and it’s not a 911 emergency, you can call 211. I just now discovered there is a website and there is assistance.

Thank you for taking the time to read my Blog.

As we turn the page to 2015 I will continue to serve UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland through Hill Branch, EBAC-East Bay Agency for Children, the George Mark Children’s House, the Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Italy and now the Salvation Army where I will be working with the board to assist with their social media marketing in order to broaden their messaging as well as to engage others to learn more and to become involved. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact me so I can put you in touch with the appropriate person.

Oakland Alameda County serves many locations and offers a range of services from shelter to rehabilitation. Learn More.

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