Celebrating the Army Behind the Army
It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week and National Volunteer Month! What a great excuse to express how grateful we are for the many selfless volunteers who enable us to Do the Most Good. Suzie Brashler, Volunteer Resource Manager for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division, couldn’t pass up this opportunity to sing the praises of what she calls “the Army behind the Army.”
Volunteering, like many other things, has certainly looked different this past year. One thing that has remained constant is the gratitude Salvation Army Metropolitan Division staff, officers, and clients have for the dedicated volunteers who have so graciously given of their time when news around the pandemic has been uncertain and scary.
This time last year, volunteers both seasoned and new put aside personal concerns and brought hope to neighbors who were stuck in their homes, had lost wages, or took on additional caregiving roles to loved ones whose health was compromised. The Emergency Disaster Services warehouse space allowed volunteers to serve in person safely – six feet apart in physical distance but close together in commitment to the mission of #DoingTheMostGood. Hundreds of staff and volunteers stood on their feet for long hours packing grocery boxes and dozens more drove and delivered these essential items to those who were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to pre-existing health conditions or age.
While it was not easy asking most regular volunteers at corps community centers and institutions to stay home until it was safer to be together in person, we witnessed volunteers step up in other ways. The community got crafty sewing face masks and knitting winter hats. Students and seniors wrote greeting cards with encouraging messages to bring hope and much-needed grins to families facing homelessness at Evangeline Booth Lodge and seniors at Booth Manor.
The volunteers who stuck around or just started in person were essential, picking up extra shifts and pounds of food, they assisted in food pantry preparation and contact-free distributions. Others helped with administrative tasks, kept facilities clean, and rang bells at red kettles over the holidays to raise funds and #RescueChristmas.
Corporate, civic, and school groups also played a huge role. Some hosted coat collection drives and others provided gifts to individuals and families who otherwise wouldn’t receive them through our Angel Tree and Adopt a Family programs over the holidays. Some groups even hosted virtual volunteer hours to stay connected as a team and support The Salvation Army in a new way!
A quote I reflect on often by Arnold H. Glasgow, “Make your life a mission, not an intermission,” I’m sure resonates with many of you as well. This past year has felt like both a mission and an intermission. The need for food, financial assistance, and physical contact and connection with family and friends has increased. Our volunteers, the Army behind the Army, continued to live out the mission in a year that has in many ways otherwise seemed like an intermission, a break from familiarity.
This National Volunteer Month, I’m thankful for the volunteers who’ve been steady and ready to help when and how needed. The Salvation Army truly can’t Do the Most Good without the helping hands and servant hearts of volunteers. Thank you for all you do!