Speakers Caleb Senn & Joy Martinbianco (Development Director) from the Salvation Army spoke with us today about various programs operated by the organization:

  • bellringers, both volunteer and 8-week employed, who will be out at various locations until New Year’s, who serve as the primary and most familiar funding source for their mission’s work, but are increasingly impacted by online shopping, liability fears, and unpredictable weather patterns,
  • a 2 day distribution of gifts and clothing (occurring just last week),
  • “Lunch in July” to augment the diet and nutrition needs of students who might otherwise go hungry during the summer away from school lunches
  • “youth camps of various types and with various foci,
  • “Pathway of Hope” projects that provide “a hand up rather than a handout”, empowering participants to self-sufficiency (some of the bellringers are Adult Group Home residents), and
  • A 6-month Substance Abuse Rehab Inpatient Program (morphing over the years from older male alcoholic focus to a growing younger prescription opiate problem theme)

Started by a Methodist minister in London in order to expand  the church’s welcome to a less fortunate, “streetwise”, and otherwise “excluded” population, the Salvation Army continues to change with the times and needs of the community. For instance, they have developed a “txt-to-give” program (Text “Season” to 91999.), have pressed to reinstate the Band’s appearance at Genesee Valley in the context of diminishing cooperation from many commercial venues, and they have linked with the Independent Auto Dealers in the area who have agreed to match gifts given up to Christmas Eve.

President Peter Venos did his own bell-ringing, then had Jeff Dennings lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Greg Hilliker say grace. Bill Hentgen clearly trying to protect himself from the negative side of the “Naughty & Nice” list, bought the Crown for  $3.25 after Jeff finally dropped out of the expensive auction. (He had learned his lesson from the Whaley Silent Auction experience.) John Losinski paid a fine for saying the Pledge from outside the meeting, “King” Bill imposed fines against people whose photos weren’t in the “My City” magazine, and against anyone ignoring the Holiday Pops event, and Crysufer Reed was assessed fines for looking better in a hat and for trying to pass our meeting’s breakfast off as a Holiday Feast. (The 21 people present were impressed by how his wife Emily paid his fines.) Jim Riegle sold “50/50” tickets for Patrick Naswell, who was still recoiling from last week’s MSD Pancake Breakfast and arrived late, and Art Ridley was happy to announce that he held the winner, before the Honorable Joe Farah proved that he still recalled the words of the Creed.

Until next time, “Promise Yourself…”