Making a Difference in the Midwest, October 14

Oct 14, 2020

Many words accurately describe The Salvation Army. During the COVID-19 pandemic, nimble is an accurate description. Salvation Army locations across the Midwest have changed their service model to ensure staff, volunteers and clients remain safe from exposure to the virus. Volunteers can make important contributions from home. And, programs help community members to improve their quality of life. 

Pathway to Health

When The Salvation Army Ferguson Community Empowerment Center and the Christian Hospital realized that the same people tend to walk through their doors, they knew that together they could make an impact in St. Louis. They created Pathway to Health, which is a multi-disciplinary program for individuals with limited economic resources. To date, Salvation Army case managers and Christian Hospital community health workers have helped more than 300 clients gain control over their physical and environmental health needs.

Many Pathway to Health clients face the challenge of prioritizing the competing needs of feeding their families, paying rent and managing their health needs. The program has helped clients to take control of long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, and assisted them with budgeting, planning, and improving job and life skills. It also connects them with low-cost doctors. These factors combine to let them live a healthier life.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the physical, mental, emotional and economic health disparities faced by residents in high-risk zip codes. Pathway to Health has seen significant beneficial impact in these high-risk areas. Program directors hope to expand services to provide an even more holistic approach to health and wellness and offer Pathway to Health to communities beyond the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Lake County, IN Team Recognized for Adaptability

The Salvation Army has long been recognized for rapidly adapting to meet changing needs. The Salvation Army of Lake County, IN is no exception and was recognized by Northwest Indiana Business Magazine for its ability to adapt its business model to the needs of a global pandemic. 

Like many Salvation Army locations across the Midwest, the Lake County team has adapted to a reduced contact or contactless model to provide many of its services. For example, instead of applying in person for assistance, clients may now complete interviews by email or over the phone. Similarly, requests for transitional housing are also addressed remotely with the landlord. Emergency Disaster Services canteen trucks have been repurposed as food trucks, offering hot meals to socially distanced lines of people. And, the pre-COVID in-person food pantry which offered a grocery store style shopping experience has transitioned to drive-up service with packaged boxes of food delivered to each car.

While these measures are important to keep staff, volunteers and clients safe during the pandemic, they have also proven to be scalable to meet the increasing needs of the region.

Knit One, Donate Two

Tom Cornish, a 96-year-old WWII Veteran and Salvation Army volunteer, has turned his hobby into a way to do good in the world. Tom began knitting about 20 years ago. After his wife passed away last year, Tom took up his needles and began to knit hats, averaging one hat per day. “Each hat takes me about four hours. It keeps me busy,” Tom said. So busy, in fact, that he recently donated 356 hats to The Salvation Army for distribution in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN area. As temperatures begin to drop and the pandemic continues, The Salvation Army is preparing for increased demand for winter clothing and accessories, hats included. When asked why he knits, Tom replied, “I work for the Lord – that’s what it’s all about.” 

The Salvation Army’s nimble responses to the needs of volunteers, the community and staff allows it to serve when, where and how it can Do the Most Good. You, too, can make an impact within your community. The Salvation Army offers volunteer opportunities which serve those in need across the Midwest. To learn more, visit our Volunteer page.


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