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The Salvation Army in London
Making a Strategic Difference When it Matters Most

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By Haydn Jensen

Do you agree with this statement:

"It is part of our responsibility as Christians to make a difference in our community"?

Think about it. That word “responsibility” is a serious word that carries enough weight to make half-hearted agreement almost as negative as outright refusal. The second part of the statement, about ‘making a difference’, allows more wiggle room because making a difference could be anything from helping an old lady cross the street to funding a new hospital wing.

The Christian’s responsibility to make a difference is what Perron Goodyear learned as he grew up in The Salvation Army church. Now he serves as Public Relations and Development Representative for The Salvation Army. He shared his thoughts on how the organization thinks and moves in the community and also told me about some programs and events that deserve to be better-known.

Perron commented that The Salvation Army has been called “the church with a social conscience”. This reputation harkens back to founder William Booth’s philosophy that there is little point preaching ‘salvation’ to hungry people. The concept of ‘soup, soap and salvation’ took hold, later to be developed into the comprehensive social service programs The Salvation Army operates today. Originating in Britain in 1865, it began its work in Canada in 1882 and has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country. The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people today and every day in 400 communities across Canada and 126 countries around the world. The organization offers practical assistance for children and families—often tending to the basic necessities of life. It also provides shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction.

Besides the well-known Christmas Kettle Campaign, and Red Shield Appeal, Londoners are also familiar with The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope, a 267-bed emergency shelter near Wellington and Horton Streets. And yet, there are many other Salvation Army programs and services that are not as well known, but should be. Let’s spend some time on one facility in particular, because it has a long history here—its 60th Anniversary is coming soon. Friday, September 12, 2014 will mark the 60th Anniversary of The Salvation Army London Village, located at the corner of Highbury and Dundas. All are welcome at the Open House event to celebrate “60 years of caring”. The event features a free BBQ, tours, and stories from those who have a special connection to the London landmark. Originally an orphanage, the site has transformed in response to changing needs in the community. Presently, the London Village offers three primary services:

Childcare program - providing licensed Christian child care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children in east London.

Respite program - supporting adults and children with intellectual disabilities, and their families, through the provision of respite services ranging from 24 hour to full week stays.

Adult day program - developed to specifically meet the needs of individuals living in the community with Alzheimer disease or a related form of dementia and persons who are frail and elderly.

As part of these core programs, The Salvation Army has observed and responded to a number of specific needs by adding on some addition programs:
  • Door-to-door transportation for all the programs.
  • Sibshops. These are workshops offering both recreation and therapeutic activities for children/youth that have a brother or sister with special needs. These workshops are planned and facilitated in partnership with Community Living London, CPRI and Autism Ontario-London Chapter.
  • Comp-U Give. The Salvation Army also works in partnership with Western University to host the “Comp-U-Give” program at the London Village. Started initially by private citizen Colin Toth and his family, Comp-U-Give wants to make sure every household in our community has a computer available to them. Over the past couple years they have recycled and refurbished dozens of computers for families, complete with installed software and training to help families use them. Perron says the program has been very popular and feels the service is especially valuable now in our technology-driven society where children need “equal access” to succeed in their school work and beyond.

Perhaps the best way to get the full picture of how The Salvation Army wants to connect with the community is to take a look at “In Community”, the Ontario-Great Lakes Division’s infographic which beautifully illustrates their Strategic Plan:

Link: www.salvationarmy.ca/ontariogreatlakes/the-salvation-army-in-community

Each building in the mural represents a core element to their vision and provides a “street level” perspective on what each looks like within a community. You can click on each building to read more about why that piece is important and where the organization wants to fulfill that part of the vision. Clearly, The Salvation Army envisions a comprehensive reach into our neighbourhood, a clear expression that “making a difference in our community” really is what Christian service is all about.


You can follow these links to find out more about The Salvation Army in London and beyond:
The Salvation Army Ontario Great Lakes Division: www.salvationarmy.ca/ontariogreatlakes
The London Village 60th Anniversary Open House: www.salvationarmy.ca/ontariogreatlakes/files/2014/07/Anniversary-Invite