Second Chances

"Just as with Holly and many thousands of men and women over the years, we’re committed to saving shattered lives." by Denise Voss

“Nothing left. No Family. No Friends. All worldly things had failed me. My addiction was everything, but what brought me to my knees, to the darkest place of despair…was pain pills. They had me chained and locked up. I was told that both my parents had died that same day while I was in the Salvation Army Rehab Center and everyone thought I would leave. My counselor had me repeat to myself “Be still. I am alive. I will survive.” Holly can say that as a graduate of the San Diego Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). She has eight years of sobriety and her family life on solid ground.

Holly says of the ARC program, “The weekly counseling sessions are guided by a series of workbooks facilitated by trained counselors. I had time for self-reflection on how I got to this point in my life and what I can do to change my life, for my future and my children’s future. The educational classes are taught to help us understand key topics, like chemical dependency issues, from a medical and social point of view. We can see and deal with consequences of lifestyle choices we’ve made. When I lost both my parents while I was in the program, it was a very challenging time for me, but I knew I was in the right place. Now I work for the Salvation Army El Cajon Corps in Southern California, I’m married and I have my two daughters back. I’m grateful to God, The Salvation Army, donors and shoppers for giving me my life back and a second chance.”

The Salvation Army operates 18 Adult Rehabilitation Centers in the Western Territory alone, with 1,856 beds for men and women. Nationally, the Army operates 91 ARCs. This Christ-centered, no-fee, alcohol and drug rehab program provides a six-month residential setting for men and women, ages 21-65 and is the largest, and most successful network of adult rehabilitation centers in the nation. Through holistic work-therapy, group and individual counseling, life skills development and spiritual direction, residents learn to abandon substance reliance.

Many of the men and women we serve come to us as a result of a court order, in lieu of jail time. Some are referred by friends, family or community organizations. The need for safe places of refuge for those struggling with homelessness and substance abuse is very real. Every day in America, more than 6,500 people are hospitalized from drugs or alcohol overdoses. 

By collecting quality goods, either dropped off at neighborhood stores or picked up by ARC trucks on their home routes, the Army gives these donated items a second chance by selling them in thrift stores or recycling them. Proceeds generated through this business model, which relies on well-run and timely practices of sorting, processing, transporting and selling the donated goods to the public, is primarily how the program is funded. 

These donations stay in each local community to support the area’s ARC program, helping men and women turn their lives around. Dedicated staff consisting of Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers walk alongside the program participants, guiding them through a variety of challenges. 

Sobriety, work therapy, counseling and spiritualty are the four program pillars for lifetime success. Through classes such as anger management, relapse prevention, rehabilitation issues, Bible study, reentry into the community and even smoking cessation, participants learn to take back their lives. The completion of the 12-step study program, choosing a sponsor and attendance at weekly Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings are required. Opportunities to strengthen their faith include daily devotions, chapel service and a weekly graduation ceremony. One-on-one counseling, group counseling and the opportunity to receive spiritual guidance is foundational. Often, it’s through these individual counseling and spiritual sessions that participants work through the obstacles of their past, gain new perspective and hope for the future. The Army even provides six-week “adherent” classes for those wanting to become part of The Salvation Army church. 

Too often, program participants have lost their ability to maintain a job—if they had ever been able to hold one. Participants engage in work therapy, helping to process the donated goods for sale or recycling. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ARCs have been limited in collecting donations. Retail operations and intakes of new program participants were paused back in March. Our focus was on the health and safety of those in our program, customers, staff and volunteers and to do our part to help flatten the curve of Covid-19. During this time, we sustained significant financial losses from our primary source of revenue. In the West, we’ve paused routine home pick-ups for the time being, but continue limited special pick-ups including Corporate and Community Partner Organizations, as well as Real Estate Professionals through the Real Estate for Rehabilitation program, started by National Advisory Board members JoAnn and Joseph Callaway. We know that our donors have been busy thinning out their closets during quarantine, and we’ve responded by promoting our hundreds of donation drop-off sites throughout the territory. (Ed. note: Last month, 24 thrift stores associated with 21 ARCs in the Southern Territory remained closed, 19 thrift stores associated with 18 ARCs in the West anticipated opening by August 1,  and the stores for the East’s 35 and the Central’s  17 ARCs were open). 

Outreach efforts to local communities during the pandemic have included use of Call-to-Action flyers and digital images on social media to get the word out regarding how to support local centers and where need has been greatest.

We began our approach to reopen our thrift stores in May and in June. Our Adult Rehabilitation Centers ministry followed suit, resuming intakes with safety and mitigation measures in place. We continue to see men and women transformed through their relationship with Christ and help them heal broken relationships.  

As we face the financial challenges presented by COVID-19, our ARCs are creating operational efficiencies that will serve us for many years to come, including the ability to accept monetary donations to this much needed ministry.

Just as with Holly and many thousands of men and women over the years, we’re committed to Doing The Most Good by giving children back their parents and saving shattered lives.

Visit satruck.org to find a drop off location for donations, schedule a free pick up and other options.

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