The Salvation Army in Nanaimo recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, meaning it not only has existed for 125 years but has assisted Nanaimoites in need during that time as well.
Dawne Anderson, fundraising and promotions co-ordinator for Nanaimo’s Salvation Army, said that the contemporary Nanaimo Corps assists the needy through a variety of programs and services including community-based food programs and addiction services such as Alcoholic Anonymous meetings.
Getting a haircut, taking care of aches and pains of the body and preparing taxes during tax season might be out of reach for those in need but thanks to a Salvation Army program, it need not be as barbers, chiropractors and people versed in income tax preparation (during income tax season) volunteer their services.
“One of the most successful endeavours in recent years is the introduction of the Professional Giving Back Program,” Anderson said. “These services are the result of professionals in their field who generously give of their time and expertise. At first services were offered on a first-come, first-served, basis but the response was so great that we had to schedule appointments. These appointments are set up in such a way that all clients have fair access.”
The Salvation Army opened its New Hope Centre in 2007, which offers emergency shelter beds for adult males and shower facilities for males and females. People using the centre have access to three meals a day and laundry facilities as well.
Meals are also provided for low-income families.
“As a result (of the centre opening), residential programs became available to those struggling with homelessness or are at risk of being homeless,” Anderson explained. “The kitchen staff at the New Hope Centre are amazing. The meal program operates (year-round) and meals are based on Canada’s Food Guide and we provide 75,000 nutritious meals a year.”
Anderson said the Salvation Army Thrift Stores generate funds to finance its community services and she pointed to two thrift store programs that assist with this.
“The thrift stores have expanded to include a recycled metal program at the Bowen Road store and this has increased much-needed funds,” Anderson explained. “Also, the thrift store has a new program in which an individual can donate an old vehicle and receive a tax donation. Mid-Island Towing has partnered with the thrift store to pick up vehicles,” she said.
As for which of the Nanaimo Salvation Army programs is most important, Anderson said it’s impossible to choose.
“To a mother receiving an emergency food hamper, to her that is the most important program. To the client who is able to access a residential treatment program, addiction services is the most important,” Anderson said. “All programs have one unifying goal – to assist those in need.”