Decatur Salvation Army finds success with programs and prepares for fundraiser – Yahoo Sports | Region & Cash

Aug. 5 – Decatur’s Salvation Army unit’s new transitional housing and its move to a customer-chosen table is progressing as the nonprofit prepares for a fundraising bike ride that will help support both programs.

The Salvation Army shifted its focus from offering overnight accommodation to providing temporary housing, which was moved into by its first family in November. The agency renovated two apartment buildings on its property on Austinville Road Southwest near 14th Street and has enough units for seven families.

Capt. LeAnna Marion of the Salvation Army unit in Decatur said five families totaling 16 people are currently living at the shelter.

“The type of family we serve the most is single moms,” she said. “But we had grandmas with grandchildren, we had single fathers, we had entire families.”

Marion said the transitional shelter is a nine-month program to help people get back on their feet. The Salvation Army also lends a helping hand with items from their pantry, helping families learn how to budget and manage, and how to set and achieve goals.

“We’ve successfully had four families move into their own homes,” Marion said. “We currently have three families looking for apartments to move out. … At the moment there are not many affordable apartments, many waiting lists.”

The Salvation Army used to have a food bank where people got bags of groceries. LeAnna’s husband, Capt. Thomas Marion, said they switched to a grocery store-style program where people get to choose their own items with the help of someone from the Salvation Army.

Thomas said with the new method, “We don’t give them stuff they won’t eat or won’t use.” The method is called Client Choice and the organization switched to it in July.

LeAnna said the organization plans to have a Salvation Army social worker to help pantry visitors learn about the budget.

“It’s our goal … now that the pantry is fully set up and running and good to have prices for things on the shelves. Once they’ve shopped, go over the choices they’ve made so they can stay on budget,” LeAnna said.

The pantry is open Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. LeAnna said in July they were caring for 41 families, including 79 people. Before moving to Client’s Choice, they served 34 families in June and 30 families in May.

Another program gaining momentum in the Salvation Army’s Decatur unit is the thrift store. It closed in September due to staff shortages but reopened in March after renovations.

“The family store is doing better than it was before it closed, but we’re still short on staff and trying to hire people,” LeAnna said. “It’s not at the level we would like it to be because we don’t have enough staff.”

LeAnna said the store funds about 25% of the Decatur unit’s annual budget. Additional money comes from Christmas kettle collections, mailing campaigns, the annual Red Kettle Ride for cyclists, United Way and donations.

This year’s Red Kettle Ride fundraiser will take place on September 3rd. The organizers hope that the response will be stronger than in 2021.

“Last year we only raised $9,000, it’s usually around $20,000,” Thomas said. “Later in the year the sponsorship money went down, we didn’t have as many drivers anymore.”

Thomas said the goal this year is to raise $25,000 and the results from sponsorships are ahead of the game a year ago.

“It (the money) helps us keep our pantry open and it helps us keep our transitional shelters open to help homeless families. So the mother, father or whoever the parents are with their children have a safe place where they can be able to get back on their feet and get back to some normalcy in their lives,” he said.

The Red Kettle Ride had 33 cyclists in 2021, which was fewer than usual. The ride took place on October 30 last year, so Thomas said they’re moving the date to try to interest more riders. The organizers hope for at least 100 drivers.

There will be four different rides: a family ride of up to 14 miles on the Bill Sims Bike Trail, and routes of 30, 64 and 100 miles. To sign up, go to bikesignup.com/Race/AL/Decatur/RedKettleRide.

In another program update, LeAnna said it had “no long-term plan to reopen the shelter, but we do have a plan to open for cold weather this year.”

LeAnna said whether the warming center will be open overnight or only during the day depends on the type of staff they can acquire.

“If we just do volunteers and can’t hire anyone, then it would probably just be a day thing,” she said. “If we’re able to hire for cold weather, we’ll try to get the night done.”

—erica.smith@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2460.

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