The Salvation Army of Greater New York recently launched its mobile Social Service Response Unit (SSRU), partnering with several other non-profits who are working tirelessly to eradicate homelessness.
The SSRU canvases the streets of Manhattan in our bright blue branded vans, providing services to the 60,000 men, women, and children experiencing homelessness.
Roberto Calderon of The Salvation Army dedicates his time engaging with our homeless neighbors, offering help and hope with each encounter. ”We are looking at homelessness as a very slow moving disaster that impacts many of New York’s most vulnerable,” says Calderon, “people who are going through different mental health, spiritual, and social crises. We are engaging with them in the most dignifying way possible, offering friendship, support, and to most a connection to many other resources such as food pantries, housing, shelter, rehabilitation, and detox services. We will try to meet whatever need and to show them that they haven’t been abandoned and that they are loved.”
“I was homeless and I had just come out of a detox,” shares Agustin. “The Salvation Army gave me structure. I felt like a human being. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for The Salvation Army. They understand and they’re just truly doing God’s work.”
The SSRU is not only combatting poverty and homelessness; it has also joined in the fight against human trafficking. Within 8 short months, we’ve made tremendous inroads through our outreach program, Pearl Essence. This effort focuses on illicit massage parlors and strip clubs where girls and women are often exploited for sex. Our objective is to offer first-step services to empower these girls and women who are highly vulnerable to trafficking because of extreme poverty, trauma, immigration status, and domestic violence.
“I guess our end goal would be that we aren’t needed anymore,” says Calderon. “That would mean that there is enough people that are housed, restored, and set free from whatever has pushed them to this life.