Salvation Army Youth are Slaying Stereotypes

Overcoming Stereotypes

I believe everyone has stereotypes and preconceived notions that others use to define them. These harmful labels ensure that that person doesn’t live up to their fullest potential. I have been afflicted by these caricatures all my life, however, whenever straight As appear on my report card or whenever I win a debate tournament, I am defying these stereotypes of myself. This is precisely what the Upward Bound program has taught me to do. To challenge and confront stereotypes.

Faces of the Upward Bound Program

Upward Bound is a remarkably unusual program. We have students from all walks of life; coming from all corners of the world. Each unique in every single way, except one, all Upward Bound students are united in the fact that we are all outsiders. The Pakistani girl who fled an arranged marriage in her home-country, whose parents discouraged her from finishing high school, but now passionately pursues higher education. The Hispanic boy who refuses a life as a construction worker or as a gardener but who one day aspires to become an aerospace engineer. The 6 ft 5 in African American student who hates football and hates basketball but already knows how to code and one day hopes to become a computer scientist. I pride myself on being an outsider. I pride myself in defying stereotypes. I pride myself on being a devoted member of the Upward Bound program.

Higher Education a Reality

It is through this same program I was able to apply for, get accepted to and attend Pomona College with a full-ride scholarship. Were it not for the guidance and support offered to me by my mentors at the Upward Bound program, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Besides the countless weekends I spent getting tutored for the SAT or attending college application workshops, the scholarship award given to me by The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs’ Youth of the Year program made it possible for me to attend my dream school, which is in a state entirely different from my home, 2,000 miles away. I owe all the success I have to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs and the Upward Bound program, and all the people in it that sought to believe in me and to make my potential a reality.

Message to Youth of the Year Participants

To all those applying for the scholarship, I want to commend you on your efforts. I want to let you know that you are a role model for younger friends, your younger siblings, your younger cousins, your younger nephews, and everybody in your neighborhood. Slowly but truly we are making our communities a better place… and The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs, the Youth of the Year program, and Upward Bound are all we have to thank for it.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tesfamichael Negussie was The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year 2017 overall winner, receiving the top prize of $10,250. Negussie participated in The Salvation Army’s Upward Bound Program at Wisdom High School. Currently, he attends Pomona College in Claremont, California.

Negussie is an Ethiopian immigrant who came to the United States at the age of two. During his high school career, he excelled academically and participated in community service activities, including founding the Young Ethiopian Council.

Annual Youth of the Year Scholarship Banquet to be held February 20, 2018

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Houston is proud to announce that this year’s Youth of the Year Scholarship Awards Banquet will take place Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 6 p.m., at the Briar Club, located at 2603 Timmons Ln, Houston, TX 77027.

Every year, The Salvation Army awards thousands of dollars in scholarships through this program. Since its inception, The Salvation Army has awarded over $900,000 to more than 140 participants. Last year, 24 youth received a total of $64,000.

Scholarship Participants

Participants in the Youth of the Year competition are members of the following The Salvation Army Youth Programs:

  • The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Houston: Aldine Westfield Branch, Garden City Branch, Irvington Branch, Northwest Branch, and Pasadena Branch
  • Upward Bound college preparatory program: Wisdom High School, Yates High School
  • International Corps Community Center

This year the Youth of the Year scholarship competition was divided into two divisions:12 & 13 years old, 14 & older. The winners from both will deliver their inspirational speeches at the banquet.

How You Can Help

The Awards Banquet is a fundraising event open to the public by ticket purchase or sponsorship. Individual tickets are $175 and levels of sponsorship range from $1,500 to $25,000. The proceeds raised through this year’s banquet will be used for college scholarships and summer day camp. Tickets and sponsorships may be purchased by contacting Erika Green at 832.201.8026 or via e-mail, erika.green@uss.salvationarmy.org.

About Youth of the Year

The Youth of the Year program is a national Boys & Girls Clubs initiative, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club members and with one club member being selected as the National Youth of the Year.

About The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs serves over 3,000 children annually with a majority of the Club members coming from disadvantaged circumstances, single parent homes, and some even homeless. Your generosity provides a pathway to “Bright Futures” through strong Christian beliefs and hard work.

To learn more about The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, please call 832-201-8077 or click here: SalvationArmyHouston.org/youth.

A Christmas Miracle for the Montemayor Family

Assistance Falls into Place to Help Family of Eight Days Before Christmas

It was a few days before Christmas and it was not looking bright for the Montemayor family. Pablo Montemayor works hard but the money he makes only covers the necessities for his family of eight. As he watched the local evening news, he heard  that The Salvation Army was distributing gifts to families in need for Christmas. The next day, he rounded up his wife and six children, ages 4 to 17, and drove to the nearest Salvation Army location to see if they could receive assistance.

At the Northwest Corps Community Center, it was the final day of distribution and a staff member was outside directing traffic of the families picking up their Angel Tree bags when she met Pablo. Moved by his efforts, and with the officer’s blessing, she asked the family to come back the following day for some items from the toy reserve. It would not be much but she wanted to offer them something.

Fire Department to the Rescue

That same day, the Northwest Corps was getting ready to close for the day when a fire official with the Cypress Creek Fire Department walked in and asked if the Corps would accept a fire truck’s worth of toy donations. They did and the Corps now had a classroom filled with about a hundred toys! When the Montemayor family returned the following day, the children were able to personally pick out toys and stuffed animals from the items the fire station had donated.

Meant to be

When Angel Tree registration closes in October, families who reach out afterwards are referred to the United Way’s helpline in order to be connected with non-profit organizations who are still registering for Christmas assistance. But sometimes things just fall into place and are meant to be, just like it did with the Montemayor family.

As for Pablo Montemayor and his family, they were overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness they received that Friday before Christmas. His message to everybody who donated to the Angel Tree program, “Thank you for putting a smile on children’s faces and especially for the help you give parents through these donations. We are very grateful.”

Sign up to be a bell ringer

The bell ringing season officially kicks off nationally on Thanksgiving Day and runs through Christmas Eve, when the red kettles are packed away for the season.

Thanks to our bell ringers, every year The Salvation Army of Greater Houston is able to raise over a $1,000,000  through our Red Kettle campaign. All the money raised in the Greater Houston Area stays in our community, helping fund our year-round programs and services.

Want to be a Bell Ringer?

The Salvation Army of Greater Houston has six (6) Corps Community Centers that spearhead our Red Kettle Campaign. Each of our Corps Community Centers is in charge of different areas of our city. The best way to volunteer as a bell ringer is to find the Corps Community Center closest to you or to the store you’d like to ring bells at.





History of Red Kettle Campaign

A Salvation Army Captain in San Francisco had resolved in December of 1891 to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area’s poor. He remembered his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England where the boats came in, he saw a large pot into which charitable donations were thrown by passersby. This is how his idea of placing a pot in a conspicuous area for donations came about.  By Christmas 1895, the kettle was used in 30 Salvation Army locations in various sections of the West Coast area.

Today, donations to The Salvation Army kettles at Christmas help support the nearly 30 million people served by the Army and can be found in many foreign countries such as Korea, Japan, Chile, many European countries and Australia.

Community Thanksgiving Meals at The Salvation Army

The Greater Houston Area has been through a lot these past two months. During Harvey -and now after- our community came together to helped each other out during our greatest time of need. There is a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

In the spirit of giving thanks and coming together to help those who have hit hard times, The Salvation Army of Greater Houston is inviting the community, especially those affected by Hurricane Harvey, to join us this Thanksgiving Day at three of our homeless shelters.

Harbor Light Center

Our homeless shelter for men, Harbor Light Center, located at 2407 North Main, will be serving meals to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Family Residence

Our Family Residence, a homeless shelter for families, located at 1603 Mc Gowen, will open its doors at 12 noon, serving until 3 p.m.

Conroe’s Center of Hope

For those living in Montgomery County, we are excited to announce that our Salvation Army Conroe Corps will be bringing back the Thanksgiving Feast, in collaboration with the Friends of Conroe, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at our new individual and family homeless shelter: Wayne Bergstrom Center of Hope, 301 Avenue E.

Pasadena Corps

Volunteer staff from The Cheesecake Factory in Friendswood will once again join our Pasadena Corps Community Center to host the annual Thanksgiving Day Feast with The Salvation Army. From 10 a.m. to noon on Thanksgiving Day, staff volunteers from the restaurant will prepare a full-service, sit-down meal that includes freshly roasted turkey with all the trimmings and The Cheesecake Factory’s famous seasonal Pumpkin Cheesecake. Tickets to the annual Thanksgiving Day Feast have been distributed in advance.

 

In addition to the Thanksgiving feasts we will be hosting for both our clients and the public at these locations, our other program locations will also be hosting private Thanksgiving activities for our clients and members.

2017 Mall Angel Tree Program

Support The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, which provides Christmas assistance for disadvantaged children and senior citizens. Select a child or senior who registered in our gift assistance program at any of the participating malls below. For questions about the Mall Angel Tree at a specific mall, please contact the Corps Community Center in charge of that location.

Can’t make it out to the mall? Adopt an Angel Online! Click here to get started.

Easy as one, two, three!

  1. STEP ONE: Select an angel tag off our “Angel Tree” at the mall.
  2. STEP TWO: Shop for your angel.
  3. STEP THREE: Bring back the unwrapped gifts to the Angel Tree at the mall.

Participating Malls

The Galleria Mall
5085 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX 77056
 

2nd floor near Play Area

Contact:

International Corps

713-988-5201

Start date: Fri., November 10, 2017

Deadline: Wed., December 20, 2017

Monday – Saturday: 10am-8pm

Sunday: 2pm-7pm

Willowbrook Mall
2000 Willowbrook Mall
Houston, TX 77070
 

Nearest Store: Sears

Contact:

Northwest Corps

832-200-4620

Start date: Fri., November 24, 2017

Deadline: Mon., December 11, 2017

Monday – Saturday: 9am-9pm

Sunday – 11am – 7pm

Memorial City Mall
303 Memorial City
Houston, Texas 77024
 

Near the food court, beside the carousel

Contact:

Temple Corps

713-692-0522

Start date: Sat., November 18, 2017

Deadline: Sun., December 17, 2017

Monday – Saturday: 10 am- 8pm

Sunday – 12 noon – 6pm

Deerbrook Mall
20131 Highway 59 North
Humble, Texas 77338
 

Drop gifts off at mall office

Contact:

Aldine Westfield Corps

713-694-5688

Start date: Mon., November 20, 2017

Deadline: Fri., December 15, 2017

Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

(Unmanned Tree)

The Woodlands Mall
1201 Lake Woodlands Dr
The Woodlands, Texas 77380
 

Downstairs main entrance, by courtyard and valet parking

Contact: Conroe Corps

936-760-2440

Start date: Sat., November  4, 2017

Deadline: Sat., December 16, 2017

Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sunday: Noon – 6 p.m.

For a printable flyer with this information, please click here. 

Major Dan “Noonan” Rooney Inspires at The Salvation Army’s 2017 Annual Luncheon

Click on picture to view photo album of event.

Kicking off the holiday season, The Salvation Army of Greater Houston hosted its largest fundraising event of the year, the 2017 Annual Luncheon, on Tuesday, November 15th, 2017 at the River Oaks Country Club. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and supporters, including the 400 people in attendance, the Army raised over $570,000, which benefits the programs and services offered throughout the year in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

A tradition at The Salvation Army, the Annual Luncheon is hosted every year by The Salvation Army of Greater Houston Advisory Board. Joe Cleary, Advisory Board Chairman, thanked the luncheon co-chairs Beth and Jeffrey Early for their time and dedication to the event, despite having been directly impacted and displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

2017 Honorees Sally and William Slick, Jr.

Jeff Cleary, serving as both luncheon Co-chair and Master of Ceremonies, presented Sally and William Slick, Jr. as this year’s honorees. Bill is a lifetime member of The Salvation Army of Greater Houston Advisory Board, having served on the board since 1973, and emeritus member of The Salvation Army National Advisory Board. Sally is a Founding Member of The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Houston. Reflecting on how attendance by Army supporters has increased over the years, Bill Slick commented, “I used to see a lot more blue uniforms (Salvation Army officers) seated at the tables during these luncheons. That’s changed over the years. We’ve come a long way.”

The Salvation Army’s Response to Hurricane Harvey

Major Kent Davis, Area Commander for The Salvation Army of Greater Houston, also took the stage to thank the attendees for their continued support of the Army, especially during Hurricane Harvey. Davis spoke about how, during Hurricane Harvey, not only did the city come together to help their fellow neighbors but also how The Salvation Army from several Texas cities and states came to Houston to serve as one.

Major Dan “Noonan” Rooney Inspires

To round out the event, United States Air Force Pilot and PGA Golf Professional Major Dan “Noonan” Rooney inspired attendees as this year’s keynote speaker. Rooney spoke about volition, the power of choice, and moving from an “I won’t” or “I can’t” mentality to “I’ll try,” “I can,” and “I will.” Rooney said, “It is up to you to overcome challenges in your life. Those challenges shape you into who you are. Do not let ‘experts’ or your own fears get in the way of your dreams.”

The Upcoming Holiday Season

The Annual Luncheon gives way to The Salvation Army’s busy holiday season. Next week, several Salvation Army locations will host special Thanksgiving events, including serving Thanksgiving meals for those in need at Family Residence, Harbor Light Center and the Center of Hope in Conroe. The Red Kettle Campaign, the largest fundraising campaign of the year, will kick off citywide on Friday, November 25th.

 

Hurricane Harvey – One Month Later

Getting Ready for Harvey

Since before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, The Salvation Army of Greater Houston had been meeting the needs of those potentially impacted by opening the door to all four of our homeless shelters, not turning anyone away. Our Corps Community Centers also stocked up on water, snacks, and items to make meals, so they could meet the potential need in their communities.

On August 25th, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a category four hurricane with 130 miles per hour winds. From August 26th through the 30th, Harvey covered 70% of Harris County with 1.5 feet of water, flooding an estimated 136,000 structures.

By August 30th, some Salvation Army locations had already begun operating as “shelters of last resort” and had started accepting guests that had been impacted by flooding. Relief teams were starting to reach communities and pockets of residents who had, at that point, received little or no assistance since Hurricane Harvey moved through the area.

Salvation Army Reinforcements Arrive

As the water receded, it left behind a stark picture of the overwhelming relief work and recovery that was ahead. 29 mobile feeding units deployed to provide meals, drink and emotional and spiritual care throughout the city.  The Salvation Army Florida Division arrived with a field kitchen, with the capacity to produce 15,000 meals a day to support the increased feeding efforts. They also brought two shower trailers to the area. A warehouse was quickly set up in Houston to house donations and support feeding efforts.

Just days later, threatened by the potential landfall and devastation of Hurricane Irma, assets and personnel from Florida serving in Houston returned to Florida to make necessary preparations.  Houston’s Harvey operations continued, uninterrupted with a new deployment of equipment, officers, staff, and volunteers.

On September 8th, the international leader of The Salvation Army, General André Cox, visited Houston. General Cox spent the day meeting with The Salvation Army leadership team, visiting with survivors, and encouraging Salvation Army officers, staff, and volunteers involved in the response efforts. As General Cox spoke to residents, he gave them the assurance that, “God loves you, The Salvation Army loves you, and we will be here to help.”

As water continued to recede throughout affected areas, The Salvation Army ramped up relief efforts to its highest level since the storm ended. An incredible forty mobile feeding units (canteens) responded to hardest hit communities throughout greater Houston. Polaris four wheelers brought supplies to areas inaccessible to our canteens due to debris from the storm.

Our Work Continues

The Salvation Army continues to serve in numerous locations along the Texas coastline including the Corpus Christi/Coastal Bend area, Victoria, Freeport, Galveston County, and the Golden Triangle area of Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur. More than 70 mobile feeding units and response teams are deployed throughout Texas, peaking at 96.

Because of our generous donors, The Salvation Army was already on the scene to provide relief from the storm. We will continue to help until the healing is complete.

Bringing Light to Those Suffering from Hurricane Harvey

The two-person Salvation Army crew from Kentucky rolled into Houston after dark on August 29. Just as they were ready to head out on their mobile feeding unit the following morning, residents in the Redwood Heights apartments were seeing the sun – and dry ground – for the first time in days. Their day was made a little brighter when Lt. Jane Monroe (pictured above) and Capt. Sarah Quinn arrived in their parking lot in north Houston.

Before the flood waters receded, rainfall from Hurricane Harvey had covered cars in the parking area and caused a loss of electricity in the 96-unit apartment community. The residents felt stranded and alone. Lt. Monroe and Capt. Quinn were met with smiles and cheers when they arrived on Wednesday morning. “They said we were the first ones on the scene. No one checked on them, and they felt forgotten,” said Lt. Monroe.

The Redwood Heights residents appreciated the food and the water, “but what they really needed was for someone to listen. To be present for them to talk.” As officers of The Salvation Army and skilled disaster personnel, Monroe and Quinn are trained in the “ministry of presence,” with the ability to comfort those in stressful times.

After they spent a few hours with the Redwood Heights residents, Monroe and Quinn compiled a list of supplies needed by residents and returned at dinner time with many of the items, including hygiene kits, as well as more food and water. “We ran out sandwiches and hot dogs, and burgers, so now we are passing out MREs (meals ready to eat),” said Capt. Quinn.

As of Sept. 7, The Salvation Army has served 311,955 meals, 255,522 snacks, and 321,093 drinks statewide in response to Hurricane Harvey. Emotional Spiritual Care Officers have spoken with 21,411 first responders and survivors; employees and volunteers have provided 42,938 hours of service.

“It brings us great joy to be able to help them when they felt like no one cared.”

To make a financial donation to support the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts please go to www.helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1-800- SAL-ARMY, text STORM to 51555.

(photo caption)

Lt. Jane Monroe, Salvation Army Ashland (KY) Corps Community Center, distributes meals to those affected by Hurricane Harvey in north Houston.

 

General Andre Cox Visits Houston in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

The world leader of The Salvation Army, General André Cox, spent the day in Houston visiting with families impacted by Hurricane Harvey, as well as Salvation Army workers providing disaster relief. “It’s been humbling to see how The Army has been responding here in Houston. I’m not sure that I remember any time in recent history that we have had to mobilize just about all of our emergency response units on one incident,” said General Cox. “It is phenomenal to see the robust and energetic response that The Salvation Army is bringing here.”

General Cox began his day with crews preparing to head out on mobile feeding units to provide food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care. Workers from across the United States and Canada continue to serve in Houston supporting efforts in the affected area. Twenty (20) mobile kitchens and response teams, with an average individual capacity to serve 1,000 meals per day, continue to provide hot meals, snacks, and hydration to Hurricane Harvey survivors, in addition to cleanup kits and other supplies.

General Cox was joined by Majors Kent and Melody Davis, Area Commanders for the Greater Houston Area Command, Lt. Colonels Ronnie and Sharon Raymer, Divisional Commanders for the state of Texas, and Commissioner Don Bell, Territorial Commander of the Southern Territory of The Salvation Army. After mobile feeding unit crews headed out, the General visited with families in a Houston community working to recover after severe flooding. Salvation Army mobile feeding units had been there for several days distributing meals, supplies, and food boxes. “I spoke with families who were devastated. It was especially frightening because these people were already vulnerable and living in the margins,” said General Cox.

After driving through Houston streets lined with trash and debris from homes in the process of clean up and repair, the General visited The Salvation Army Aldine Westfield Corps Community Center. Every day since the rains let up, the Corps Community Center has been feeding neighbors lunch and dinner. A place of comfort for the community, it also became a distribution center for food and supplies, such as hygiene kits, infant supplies, clothing, and towels and sheets. General Cox greeted the families waiting for much-needed relief and volunteers, “I am grateful for Salvationists who are mobilizing, who are working incredibly long hours trying to get the work done in impacted communities such as this one.”

The General’s last stop in Houston was The Family Residence in midtown.The center provides a place of safety and healing for women and children 365 days a year. Many of the residents are victims of domestic violence, crime, and generational poverty. In addition to the families already in the program, the Residence took in displaced families during this crisis. The General also had an opportunity to visit the adjacent Young Adult Resource Center (YARC), that addresses the needs of a growing number of young adults ages 18 to 25 experiencing homelessness.

Several times during the day, amid throngs of community members and disaster relief workers, General Cox offered prayers of comfort and inspiration, “We are concerned for those here addressing the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey because it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. They need prayer support. They need to know people are behind them praying. We want to be here, not just distributing meals for a couple of weeks and then moving on, but to be here to work alongside these people and support them in a journey that will likely take years.”