Helping the Salvation Army of Tallahassee

I’ve been working at the Salvation Army as a Social Services receptionist for about two months now. I greet visitors and let employees know when someone is there to see them. I answer the phone and forward calls to voicemail or let employees know they have a call. Also we have bread and pastries that people can take two items per day. And sometimes we have candy canes if they are donated.

In the area where I work, people come to get food, clothing vouchers for our thrift store, or hygiene kits. If they are transitioning from homelessness to a home and they have a letter from FEMA or Red Cross, or a caseworker, and they have a truck to move it, they can get furniture and kitchen items.

Salvation Army helps people do community service for legal restitution. They mostly help in the thrift store or the warehouse in the back and the basement. Salvation Army does emergency disaster relief, makes presentations on human trafficking, and recently are starting up a program called Pathway to Hope, which involves counseling and assistance for families.

Sometimes, like everyone, I get frustrated with all the bureaucracy. Because the Social Services are funded by grants, there are rules and limitations with regard to how often people can receive help and what kind of help they can receive. Everyone has to have photo identification and part of their social security number is entered into the computerized case managing system.

I’ve enjoyed working there, meeting new people, helping people in need and connecting professionals who do great work in our community. I hope that as I work there, I will become qualified to help people in more and better ways. I feel privileged to have this opportunity to participate in the charitable work that Salvation Army does.

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A Needy Place

“On the turning away

From the pale and downtrodden

And the words they say

Which we won’t understand

“Don’t accept that what’s happening

Is just a case of others’ suffering

Or you’ll find that you’re joining in

The turning away…”

—Dave Gilmour, Anthony Moore,

Song by Pink Floyd

I’m on my fourth week of volunteering with the Salvation Army. It’s become abundantly clear that not everyone is cut out for that line of work. Some, who may have begun with idealism, are now burned out. Some want to help, but not become too close with those who are in need. Perhaps they’ve been burned too much also. There are always those who are going to seek to take advantage, those who ask for a little too much, those who are dirty, smelly, or ugly. So, it takes a special kind of person to embrace such as these. It takes a special kind of person to see them as just like oneself, another human being. To treat them with love and respect, not as a problem. Maybe one day I can be that special person. For now, I’m just starting to learn about this place, where two very different worlds meet and dance a beautiful dance together.