20/20 Vision Highlights
20/20 Vision is in full swing across the USA Eastern Territory. To help keep you informed of its progress, check here for highlights throughout the year.
Salvation Army corps (churches) are places of worship and social service located throughout the United States and in 131 countries worldwide. Members reach out to people in surrounding communities, offering fellowship, care, and a relationship with Christ. Below are examples of what’s happening in the USA Eastern Territory, which also includes Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
677 S. Salina Street
The Salvation Army provides a shelter and services for young runaways in Syracuse and Rochester in upstate New York.
Linda Wright, the Empire State Division’s director of social services, said the numbers are not large, but the Army has seen some human trafficking victims among the youth.
“We provide safe housing and a case manager who will stay with them long after they are no longer in need of our shelter or safe housing services,” Wright said. “It’s a team approach.”
Wright said it’s often difficult to get the young women to talk and share their circumstances, but the Army does see trafficking victims who are sometimes exploited by an older boyfriend or another person in their life.
“It is underreported and gets lost with all the other factors,” Wright said. “The women are often struggling with a whole bunch of other things and trafficking gets lost in the scenario.
“We connect them with other services and make them aware of the risks their choices are creating for them.”
400 N. Orange Street
Federal and state law enforcement officials recently contacted The Salvation Army and asked for space to house women recovered from human trafficking. The Army, which operates a 52–bed shelter in Wilmington, has set aside two rooms for such survivors—for now.
“In the last three months, we’ve had five people come in and self–identify as being trafficked,” said Captain Tim Sheehan, the Delaware state coordinator for The Salvation Army.
“That has led to a much larger discussion and an aggressive timeline to get a real anti–human trafficking program up and running here in Delaware. The entire state of Delaware has no facilities for this. Women who are recovered are literally being transferred out of the state to safe places.”
Sheehan said The Salvation Army is launching a program called “Restoration Now,” which will culminate with a new recovery shelter for trafficking victims within three years. The plans also call for a caseworker, who will direct survivors to services and help them “get their identity and the beginnings of their life back.”
The Army received a donation for the first–year salary of the caseworker and Sheehan considers that the first phase.
“We are speeding up the process and getting other partner agencies across the state who can help us get the wraparound services needed for these folks,” Sheehan said. “We’re on the cutting edge of putting something together here in Delaware that will fulfill William Booth’s vision: ‘While there is a poor lost girl left lost upon the streets, I’ll fight.’ We’re trying to answer that statement here in Delaware.”
Sheehan said all three corps in the state will also receive anti–human trafficking training.
“We are being intentional about bridging the corps and the shelter,” he said.
Hartford, CT, (Citadel) Corps
225 Washington Street
Connecticut offers a proliferation of rent–by–the–hour hotel rooms, where commercial sex exploitation can often be found.
“Even though we’re a pass–through state, we see a lot of prostitution taking place in our hotels and in our nail salons,” says Krystal Ambrozaitis, the anti–human trafficking coordinator for the Southern New England Division. “We’re not necessarily a destination where people come to buy and sell, but they’re just passing through Connecticut via I–95 and I–84.”
The problem has led the division to open a drop–in center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays at the Hartford (Citadel), Conn., Corps, known as the “Hope Roots Center for Women.”
“We offer the women food, hygiene items, and clothing,” Ambrozaitis said. “It’s very much a drop–in center. They can come in and go whenever they want to. We don’t collect any intake information. We understand the women are still actively engaging in the lifestyle. We’re really providing a safe space for them to come and get something to eat.”
The women who want to get out of the lifestyle are connected to a full–time “survivor support specialist,” who is a case manager. Ambrozaitis, who is also the division’s Pathway of Hope coordinator, said the program is called the “Bloom Initiative.”
“We serve both men and women, so we didn’t want a name that was too feminine, but something that was really transformative and kind of speaks to the services they’re going to receive and the journey they go on,” she said.
“We work with survivors on goals, life skill development, and budgeting. It’s very much survivor–driven. They come to us and decide what goals they want to work on, and we help them make those community referrals and access those services.”
The survivors also have access to spiritual counseling from local corps officers, including Major Candy Fritsch.
The word gets out about the drop–in center during Thursday night street outreach, where trained Salvation Army volunteers pass out “Bloom Bags” that include hygiene items, snacks, socks, and a card with information about the center.
Ambrozaitis said the issue of human trafficking “touches everyone” in one way or another.
“It’s not that everyone is a survivor or a buyer or a trafficker, but even members of the general public are touched by trafficking.”
Manchester, NH, Corps
121 Cedar Street
Major Armida Harper and members of the corps lit a spark when they helped a woman caught up in strip clubs and sexual exploitation escape that life through The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program.
“Seeing this woman doing so much better kind of gave us a passion for this issue,” Harper says.
The corps opened a new drop–in center in February known as “Oasis.”
“There are drop–in centers in Manchester, but none that are specifically for women,” Harper said. “A lot of times, the women are at the drop–in centers with the traffickers and customers who are victimizing them.”
Harper said the corps set aside a room that offers seating, a television and DVD player, a refrigerator, a coffeemaker, a place to do crafts or play board games, a computer, and a phone.
“We’re here and we’re open,” Harper said. “Our hope is to not only invite women we know are trafficked, but women who are homeless or addicted or at risk of being trafficked. Then, as we get to know them through the drop–in center, we can help support them out of the life.”
Harper said Case Manager Daisy Cruz’s workload has increased by 10 hours. She’ll use the time to connect women to program services. Other groups, such as the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force, will help staff the center. Harper has been a member of the group for two years.
“It’s really going to be a group effort in the community, which I’m really excited about,” Harper said.
Harper has been involved in anti–human trafficking education for many years, including when she lived in Kenya, East Africa.
While Manchester is a city where the federal government assigns refugees, Harper said she hasn’t seen too many foreign women coming to the drop-in center.
“A lot of the women who are trafficked are not foreign and many of them are right from Manchester and are staying in Manchester,” she said.
“People who are immigrants could be vulnerable for trafficking, but a lot of the trafficking victims we’re seeing are not necessarily physically trafficked into Manchester. Many people are brought into the life and exploited through coercion or false promises or threats or addiction.”
Harper, who was once stationed in Kenya for The Salvation Army, said the anti–trafficking work in Manchester reminds her of those days.
“I think what gives me the heart for this is the individual who may be out there that can benefit and have their life changed through this program,” she says. “I realize this is a macro problem and I can’t solve it. That was something I had to learn in Kenya—that I could not solve all the issues that were brought to me. I couldn’t feed all the children. I couldn’t fix all the drought or the poverty, but whatever good I was able to do, with God’s help, was still good. I feel the same about anti–human trafficking and this drop–in center.
“If there is one woman or individual who can realize that they have worth beyond what their exploiter has told them, or what they owe someone who is victimizing them, it’s worth it to me. If they see there’s something they can give to society and be a different person, and through this program we can help them get there, it’s worth it to me.”
The Seaford, (Sussex Chapel), De., Corps
22318 Sussex Highway
Ministry leaders here have encouraged children and young adults to help break generational poverty and addiction in numerous apartment complexes and trailer parks. Lieutenants Kathryn and Miguel Alban, corps officers, along with other corps members, reach deep into these communities. Three nights of programming are available to local youth, including troops, music & arts, fellowship, and discipleship programs. Young people report that the programs have inspired changes in behavior and a desire to grow in Christ. Through these experiences, some young people have begun to reconcile with their families.
—Lisa Collier, Spiritual Formation Secretary,
Philadelphia (Citadel) Corps
Springfield, Ohio, Corps
15 South Plum Street
A woman who had been attending the corps made a commitment to Jesus through the Married Women’s group. The group also helped save her marriage. In September 2018, she enrolled as a senior soldier. All glory to God!
Covington, Ky., Corps
1806 Scott Boulevard
Captains Malcolm and Victoria Daniels, corps officers, asked a woman who is passionate about teaching and studying the Bible to teach the Bible studies class. She was excited and eager to lead women in worship. She was also willing to take leadership training sessions for women’s ministries. It was a blessing to see her grow out of her comfort zone!
Lancaster, Ohio Corps
228 West Hubert Avenue
Louella, a woman at the corps, has come here every day to help in the food pantry. In the process, she has learned how to use the food bank’s computerized data entry system. Her confidence has continued to grow as she is now a women’s ministries program leader. Louella has even expressed a desire to lead devotionals. Today, she regularly attends the Aqua Fit class and reaches out to other women through that class.
Meriden, Conn., Corps
23 Street, Casimir Drive
Lieutenant Claudio Cano reports that the Hispanic Women’s Group recently celebrated a ceremonious enrollment of 11 new members. “God answered our prayer to start
a women’s ministry in Meriden where there was a need for such an outreach,” said Cano. It all began in November 2018 at the food pantry. “I invited a woman who brought another friend. Today, 18 women are members of the group. Four of them attend church regularly.”
Lebanon, Pa., Corps
1031 Guilford Street
Lieutenants Marlon and Ivonne Janet Rodriguez are excited about their Second Harvest Program. “It’s a program that helps families who need food,” said Lieutenant Marlon. “Our hearts are filled with joy because we know that these families are going to have the opportunity to receive groceries and have a meal on their table.” The program happens twice a month on every other Monday. “We open the gym doors to the community, and they come with their shopping bags,” said Lieutenant Ivonne Janet. “We serve more than 300 families.”
Manhattan (Citadel), N.Y., Corps
145 East 125th Street
Captain Antonio Rosamilia and members of the corps will host a “Resurrection Sunday” event April 21 at 2 p.m. “After our service, we’ll have a ‘Witness Parade’ here in Harlem,” said Rosamilia. “This year, we’ll have the NYPD Police Band and more than 50 members of The Salvation Army.” Colonels Kenneth O. and Paula S. Johnson, chief secretary and territorial secretary for Women’s Ministries, will highlight the event as special guests.
Cincinnati (Citadel), Ohio, Corps
120 East Central Parkway
Lieutenant Felix Padilla III says the corps was scheduled to enroll an Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) beneficiary on March 17, shortly after his graduation from the ARC program. “Our corps has recently developed a great relationship with our local ARC. Beneficiaries have the option to worship with us on Sundays and our corps leads a Bible study once a week there,” said Lieutenant Padilla. Other related initiatives are also making a difference. “We have recently started a weekly community outreach where we serve meals out of a canteen. While we minister to the homeless, the goal is to have a couple of ARC beneficiaries there to encourage people with addictions to enter our program.”
Recreation is effective as 17 ARC beneficiaries are planning to attend a Salvation Army–sponsored bowling event. “We also plan to have some attend men’s camp this year,” said Padilla. So far, we have had great success.”
Bronx (Tremont) N.Y., Corps
2121 Washington Avenue
Tiffany Garcia’s testimony is amazing. As a nine– year old, she and her family came to the United States from Honduras with nothing, found The Salvation Army, and experienced the love of God far beyond anything they could have previously imagined.
Now in her teens, she says, “The Salvation Army was there when we most needed it. They didn’t treat us like everybody else treated us. The Salvationists were heartwarming.”
Garcia said her family soon learned that they could always rely on the Army. “That was our safe place.”
Video created and produced by The Salvation Army, Greater New York Division.
Akron (Citadel), Ohio Corps
190 South Maple Street
The Billy Booth Music & Arts Program, a component of the Learning Zone After School Program, offers educational support and a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program. Master’s–level volunteers from Akron University and Kent State University regularly teach brass instruments, piano, timbrels, guitar, and dance. Learning Zone students explore all the aspects of theatrical production. In 2018, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Aristocats” were among the offerings.
Philadelphia, (Citadel) Pa., Corps
5830 Rising Sun Avenue
Majors Eduardo and Janet Zuniga have followed up their four–week spiritual formation seminar with a monthly meeting focusing on the practice of spiritual disciplines. More people are engaged in studying the Word and are developing deeper relationships within the congregation. In addition to Bible study, each small group shares in worship, fellowship, service, and evangelism.*
Philadelphia, Pa., (Tabernacle)
3150 North Mascher Street
We enrolled 78 junior soldiers and 84 senior soldiers in 2018. Attendance has increased in Sunday worship, Sunday school, corps cadets, and junior soldier meetings. Soldier Yelin Jimenez says that it has been a blessing to see men and women find the love of God and see their lives changed. Alexi Martinez, recently commissioned as the corps sergeant major, says that he has witnessed the move of God in the corps.
Hamilton, Ohio, Corps
235 Ludlow Street
Brenda came to the Army looking for an opportunity to do community service in order to receive state benefits. She had been a radiology technician in Puerto Rico. We invited her to worship with the women’s small group and attend church worship. Recently, she led a part of the program. She has brought her mother and son into the corps. She works full time and has moved into a new apartment.
Canton, Ohio, (Citadel) Corps
420 Market Avenue South
The Canton Corps has developed a Health & Wellness Program. Fitness classes include cardio drumming, bar flow exercises, and yoga. These classes are offered to the public, to staff, and to participants of the Learning Zone, Senior, and Summer Day Camp programs. A diverse group of 25 people attended a “Pamper Me Day” event, which included class demos and healthy snacks.
Newport, Ky., Corps
340 West 10th Street
A downtrodden woman called the corps seeking assistance. She had a job, but lived in her car. The receptionist invited her to the women’s program. They prayed for her, encouraged her to return, and referred her to social services. The women called her regularly. She recently entered a new apartment. She now attends the corps, the women’s program, and the Bible study.
Brooklyn, N.Y., (Bensonhurst) Corps
7307 18th Avenue
The seniors program serves 200-250 mostly retired people, ages 55–99. Some are new immigrants and others lack English skills. The program helps them meet friends, exercise, and resolve daily problems. The Chinese New Year, the Thanksgiving luncheon, and Christmas Angel Tree programs are just some of the offerings.
Rochester, N.Y., Temple Corps
915 N. Clinton Avenue
Members of the Rochester, N.Y., Temple Corps have found a way to reach out to and help kids in their community by providing backpacks full of school supplies.
Captain Dolores Minaya, Rochester Temple’s corps officer, said local businesses donated the first 50 backpacks. When more were needed, the Home League held a garage sale to buy 60 more. “This was a fun and wonderful activity that gave us the opportunity to reach some families for the Lord,” Minaya said. “We are excited because the community was eager to see the Army at work in their favor.”
Toledo, Ohio, Temple Corps
620 N. Erie Street
The Toledo, Ohio, Temple Corps and beneficiaries from the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) teamed up for a fall festival that reached out to the neighborhood.
“We came together as a corps body and worked together to make this a great event for our community,” said Captain Angie Smith, the associate corps officer. “This was a way for us to be outside of our building and provide a wonderful opportunity for the children to experience a safe, fun atmosphere—free of charge.”
The corps used funds from the Divisional Headquarters to rent a bounce house and provide cotton candy, snow cones, and hot dogs in the parking lot.
“The children even had the opportunity to have their pictures taken alongside a parrot,” Smith said. “For some of the children, this was the first time they had been so close to such a bird.”
Blue Point, N.Y., Corps
211 Blue Point Avenue
People in nursing homes sometimes live lonely lives, particularly if visits from family members are rare. Lt. Charmaine Romano and Lt. Frenie Antoine of the Blue Point, N.Y., Corps know that all too well.
Recently, the officers visited 14 women at Cabrini Gardens Senior Citizens Housing. “They were happy and excited,” Romano said.
“They were laughing, smiling, and enthusiastic to share their stories with Lt. Frenie and me,” she said.
The group also sang praises to the Lord.
“We decided that delivering food boxes to the residents was not enough,” Romano said. “Although we love that we are able to provide assistance to the residents by way of food, we wanted to also go out and meet with them.
“We thought the ladies would love to do a craft. So we thought of a great craft they can enjoy, which was making edible arrangements. The women made pretty fruit baskets.”
The Blue Point Corps is located on New York’s Long Island.
Tonawanda, N.Y., Corps
46 Broad Street
Commissioners G. Lorraine and William A. Bamford, territorial leaders and authors of Vision 20/20, helped enroll 11 new senior soldiers at the Tonawanda, N.Y., Corps recently.
“As part of Vision 20/20, we are excited that God provided us with people— new souls, new hands, and new feet—serving the Lord as soldiers of The Salvation Army,” said Major Celestin Nkounkou, the corps officer.
Nkounkou said some of the new soldiers teach Sunday school, serve in the band, and take part in Home League and youth activities.
“Our new soldiers are now excited to be part of the Army and serve others through the different avenues of service we offer,” he said.
Testimonies of the new soldiers included a wide range of responses:
“This is my family.”
“I found a church home.”
“I’m glad to serve in the band.”
“I’m happy to help out whenever I can.”
Nkounkou said, “We are on a path to equip and empower people through our programs to fulfill the Great Commission.”