Even when it seems the coast is clear, The Salvation Army Florida Division’s Emergency Disaster Services teams are involved in a most basic ministry, showers. Yes, showers. At the end of a hard day's work or after a trip to the beach, the feeling of a warm shower is invaluable. The Emergency Disaster Services Ministry of the Florida Division is supporting two organizations that are heavily involved with helping others by providing shower services.
The Salvation Army Florida Division maintains five shower units ready to respond to disasters and this year, all five have been deployed. Two shower units are currently deployed and supporting Catholic Charities in DeFuniak Springs located in the Florida panhandle. These shower units provide comfort to volunteer teams engaged in rebuilding homes and lives as a result of flooding in 2013 and 2014 that ravaged the area.
Two other units, located at Van Dyke Church in Lutz, FL. are supporting a weeklong mission camp called RIOT which gives junior high and high school students a chance to volunteer in the community.
In DeFuniak Springs, Florida
A shower trailer is an essential component of disaster recovery supporting partner organizations. The Salvation Army provided the much needed shower trailers to Catholic Charities disaster relief teams in the recovery efforts at no cost. These trailers are currently placed at the city of DeFuniak Springs Community Center, which houses incoming mission teams from organizations around the country. These teams remove drywall, remediate mold growth and even begin reconstruction for those who are either underinsured or not insured.
According to Mr. Gabe Tischler, Recovery Leader for Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, “If teams are willing to get in and get their hands dirty, we welcome them to work alongside us.” He further mentioned that, “…many missions teams arrive on disasters without hot showers, and that makes the days longer and the work a little harder.”
Even after the media attention has dwindled, these projects can last years and it is often community and faith based organizations holding the hands of disaster survivors to navigate the long road to recovery.
In Lutz, Florida
Van Dyke Church’s RIOT (Reaching Inside Out Tampa) volunteers are used to makeshift cold showers. This year, however, in partnership with The Salvation Army, they received a warm and refreshing shower. RIOT is a weeklong service camp organized by Van Dyke Church for middle and high school students. This summer, three hundred RIOT campers and volunteers served dozens of locations throughout the Tampa Bay area. Each day volunteers participated in day long projects which included, cleaning and painting Mort Elementary School and assisting at the Robles Park day camp for community children. Other projects included; delivering fresh flowers to assisted living facilities and aiding in local special needs programs. The youth were asked to mow lawns and pressure wash houses of the chronically ill and elderly home owners.
“Because of the Salvation Army’s generous donation of two Shower Units, our students were able to shower before dinner and our nightly service,” said Chris Stephen, Van Dyke Church’s Director of Middle School Ministries. “It was awesome to see them blessed by this donation. After long work days, they were lively, refreshed, and ready to experience God during our evening services.”
RIOT is a community event to help others, but at the end of the day, it is about raising kids to become contributors in the community they live as a mission of their faith. This week-long extraordinary event that happens every summer through Van Dyke Church is raising new generations to serve God through service.
“The Salvation Army Florida Division is honored to contribute in a small way through sharing our equipment with partner organizations that are truly making an impact on the lives of so many.” said Kevin Smith, Director of Emergency Disaster Services for The Salvation Army. What better way to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Salvation Army found by William Booth on the philosophy of “Soup, Soap, and Salvation.”
Whether in times of disaster or day to day community needs, bringing comfort to the lives of Floridians in need is the mission of The Salvation Army. For more information, please log on to our website at www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org