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How The Salvation’s Army Critical Services Are Helping At-Risk People

salvation army child volunteer
salvation army child volunteer

From its initial days, The Salvation Army has had one mission: to give everything they can to help those who are in need. So, this year, in the season of giving, they are creating an army of givers. 

Money, time, a hand, a toy, a meal, give whatever you can to whoever. Donating can not only make a person feel good but also do good — everyone needs an army.

“No one in my life gave me guidance until I came to The Salvation Army’s Belkin House in Vancouver,” says Norman, 45. “When I arrived, I was a wreck. All I cared about was selling dope to feed my addiction. I’m on the other side today because of programming, structure, caring and loving.”

salvation army chef

As a toddler, Norman was exposed to the effects of alcoholism at home. Both of his parents were alcoholics. He often witnessed violence and the police were called frequently. By age three, he was living in foster care.

“I lost count of how many foster homes and young offenders’ facilities I lived in,” says Norman. “When I was told I would be a ward of the court, that government would make decisions about my life, I chose to be homeless. I was 13.”

From ages 13 to 40, Norman slept in vestibules, on park benches and in emergency shelters — sometimes at The Salvation Army where he would also get food and clothing.

“When I met my grandchildren, I was physically sick from drugs and alcohol and ashamed of my poor choices. I wanted to be a positive impact on their lives. I was ready for change. In 2016, I picked up the phone to seek help and was referred to The Salvation Army.”

At Belkin House for 23 months, Norman participated in programs such as life skills, anger management and substance use recovery. While there, he graduated from the culinary arts program headed by the Belkin House food services manager. In December 2020, he was hired as a full-time cook.

“The life I live today doesn’t look like the one I lived in addiction,” says Norman. “The recovering me is responsible, self-sufficient, hard-working and substance-free. I am grateful I chose to go to Belkin House. I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for The Salvation Army.”

“The fact that the number of people using our services continues to increase is alarming to us, and means we still have important work to do,” says Lt-Colonel John Murray, Territorial Secretary for Communications. “One in 11 Canadians lives in poverty and 1.4 million children cannot access enough food. This Christmas season, and throughout the year, your committed support gives them an opportunity to be housed, fed, lifted and loved.”

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