Assisting those who need it most |

Assisting those who need it most

Kay Vasilakis
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Nonprofit Spotlight

What comes to mind when you think of The Salvation Army? Brass bands? Disaster relief? The Red Kettle Campaign?

The Salvation Army’s work in disaster relief began in 1900, in response to the hurricane which destroyed Galveston, Texas. It also began its relief effort near Ground Zero less than one hour after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.

The Glenwood Springs Salvation Army office gives assistance to those in need from Aspen to Parachute. Yes folks, there are homeless and nearly-homeless people living in Aspen. Resort communities often have people who work two or three jobs just to make ends meet, and then lose those jobs and can’t find employment of any kind.

The Salvation Army provides help 365 days per year. It is often the last hope for many. When other agencies can no longer help their clients, they refer them to The Salvation Army.

“I’m telling people they need to make critical decisions,” said Salvation Army Caseworker Karen Lee. “People are dumfounded, because they don’t have the ability to pay their bills, and they’ve worked hard all their lives. Do they pay their rent, get their power or water turned off, or live in their cars?”

“We’re seeing people who are not your typical down-and-out people,” she continued. “These are middle class, working people with families, who never thought they would be in this predicament. When they lose their jobs, some of them feel completely lost. They begin to lose their sense of purpose, and really suffer.”

“They come to our office and need someone to talk to. I feel good when they can leave with some kind of strength.”

Lee finds funding for the “new homeless,” as she puts it, for tents, sleeping bags and camping stoves. She also finds money for vouchers for Colorado State Troopers to use for emergency assistance when people with children have broken down along the highways.

Recently, Lee provided funding for school children to acquire school supplies.

“The kids had a good day, the adults who helped them had a good day, and I had a good day. It’s nice to see people feel strong, to build on moments of good memories in the midst of hard times.”

When you donate to the Glenwood Springs office of The Salvation Army, your donation stays in the Roaring Fork Valley, unless you specifically request it go to Haiti or another disaster fund.

The organization supports a mobile canteen, which is a cafe that feeds emergency workers, such as firefighters. It needs volunteers to learn how to run the mobile canteen.

The Salvation Army also needs volunteers to be active members of its executive committee, which it is revitalizing.

“We need people in leadership positions, especially up-valley representation,” said Amy Barr, business manager for the Glenwood Springs office. “We work very closely with cities and the county, so we need people who can help in all kinds of capacities.”

On a positive note, Lee said, “The people of the Valley should be proud of its long-term volunteer base for the Red Kettle Campaign. Hundreds of volunteers, Kiwanians, Rotarians, high school students, all ring the bells.”

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle season starts at Thanksgiving and runs though New Year’s Eve. All the money from the bell-ringing at various locations stays here.

“The Salvation Army is the most audited organization in the world,” said Barr. “We don’t have the ability to write checks and we do not deal in cash. It’s amazing the amount of paperwork we process.”

But that’s why many people feel their donations are safe with the Salvation Army.

With your donations and your volunteerism, you can help The Salvation Army pull worthy Garfield County families back from the edge.

“There but for the Grace of God go I,” – John Bradford.

– Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column appears every other Wednesday in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. To contact her for a possible mention of your positive local nonprofit event or news item, please e-mail or call 618-6689.

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