A-OK Division Building ‘Bridges’


Bridges3The Salvation Army is known to many as a last-resort when it comes to paying utility bills, rent or other costly expenses that are incurred in today’s world. Looking to ease the need for people to search for financial assistance, The Salvation Army recently launched the Bridges Out of Poverty initiative to help people break the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. Picking up steam, The Salvation Army’s Arkansas & Oklahoma Division has launched the program in 12 locations, with several more scheduled to launch within the year.

Gaining the attention of local leaders and businesses, The Salvation Army of Shawnee, Oklahoma was recently the recipient of a $220,000 grant from the Avedis Foundation, specifically designated for the Bridges Initiative, which will be spent over the course of 3 years. The funding will allow The Salvation Army to hire a new employee that will be in charge of the Bridges Out of Poverty program in Shawnee, as well as cover the cost of as many trainings andmaterials as possible.

Excited about the launch of the program in his community, Lt. Philip Canning, Corps Officer in Shawnee notes that “the most exciting thing about it all is the realization that we’re bringing the whole community together to address real issues that people have known are a problem, but no one has been able to step up to the plate – and we’re going to do that.”


The Oklahoma Department of Human Services office has also noted the launch of the initiative within The Salvation Army’s Arkansas & Oklahoma Division, and recently recognized the Divisional Social Services Director Debbie Price as a community partner during the DHS Awards Ceremony. Her award was given in recognition of her work within Bridges Out of Poverty.

Gazing Into God’s Mirror: Women’s Retreat 2014

From every corner of the Division, over 300 ladies from Arkansas & Oklahoma travelled to Camp Heart O’ Hills to take part in the 2014 Women’s Retreat. The annual event allows women of all ages to come together for a time of worship and relaxation.

This year’s theme was intentionally designed to point delegates to the beauty that God sees in each one of them, and that self perception is a tool of ‘the world’ that leaves an emptiness that only He can fill.

Breakout sessions provided opportunity to “Gaze Into God’s Mirror”, utilizing prayer, bible study, creativity and music. For an afternoon of leisure, the ladies were treated to games of bingo, massages, and for those who cared to shop, a country store was open for business.

Throughout the weekend, delegates heard from two very gifted guests. Allison Allen, a Christian actress and author, shared her life journey, demonstrating God’s redemption. Singer and songwriter Laura Cooksey shared how God opened doors through her gift of music.  During each of their presentations, they shared life experiences, God’s healing and blessing and how God opens doors for them to bless others.

A special offering was collected on Sunday for the Mexico Children’s Home, and centerpieces provided by each Corps were auctioned off, raising over $2600 towards the World Services Mission.

At the conclusion of the retreat, when asked for one word descriptions of retreat, delegates shared feelings of joy, blessing, friendship and relaxation – exactly what the retreat was meant to instill in each lady who was in attendance.

Logan County Wildfire Update

The Arkansas-Oklahoma Division of The Salvation Army is responding to a very large wildfire that is affecting many in Logan County.   Record temperatures, drought and strong winds are causing extreme fire danger to much of Oklahoma.  The wildfire, which began on Sunday has reportedly burned over 3,000 acres and is responsible for one fatality.  At least 30 structures have been destroyed.

Stillwater:   As recent as last Thursday, the Stillwater Salvation Army was assigned a canteen.   It provides a wonderful tool to not only assist during times of disaster but also as a ministry tool.  The Stillwater Officers, as well as an employee and Advisory Board member just recently attended Emergency Disaster Services training at Camp Heart O’Hills.

Captain Patrishia Knott, Stillwater Salvation Army Officers, reports their team was called last night and asked to deploy early this morning.  She states “It was exciting to put the canteen and our training to use so soon.  The canteen is still so new to us; we were unpacking the coffee pot on the way!   The responders were exhausted this morning, it was an honor to be able to offer a bottle of water, Gatorade, hot coffee, a hot breakfast or snack to those working so hard to put out the fires.  And, it was fun writing The Salvation Army Stillwater on the brand new ice chests and equipment!”  The Stillwater canteen was asked to provide breakfast to those sheltered by American Red Cross as well as first responders.

Central Oklahoma Area Command:    The Central Oklahoma Area Command (COAC) has also been deployed to serve lunch and dinner.   COAC’s new Emergency Disaster Coordinator, Kenny Kelly, is gaining experience quickly.  He was deployed to Arkansas last week to assist with tornado response and today he is overseeing his unit’s response to the wildfire.    Kenny brought a full crew of volunteers plus himself and another employee.   We appreciate our volunteers and couldn’t do it without them!

The Salvation Army is working closely with Emergency Management to ensure the response is closely coordinated with multiple partners.   The Army is also coordinating feeding efforts with the American Red Cross and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.  The Army’s EDS teams will remain on site as long as requested.

Additional updates will be provided as necessary.

Sue Nelson Honored as “Friend of Youth”

Story and Photos by Kendi Cox

SHAWNEE, OK – On Tuesday, April 15th, The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Shawnee held its 17th Annual Don Bodard Friend of Youth Award Banquet, honoring Sue Nelson as this year’s recipient.

Past RecipentsThe Don Bodard Friend of Youth Award was established in 1998 to honor leaders who have made a difference in the lives of young people.  It was named in honor of the late Don Bodard, along with his wife, Nancy, who have been supporters of The Salvation Army for many years, as well as other youth programs in Shawnee.  The Bodards have been very concerned about the Boys & Girls Club and its effect on youth in our community.  Mr. Bodard had a special commitment to the youth of Shawnee, and it was his desire that  youth, especially those in at-risk situations, would have a safe place to play after school and receive wholesome values as they grow up. It was natural to name this award after him.

Sue Nelson was nominated and received this award for her countless hours of volunteer work with the Salvation Army of Shawnee, serving on both the Advisory Board and Women’s Auxiliary, her volunteer work with the International Youth Finals Rodeo (IFYR) and Junior Livestock shows, and for the over 100 “adopted” grandchildren she mentors. She sacrifices of herself and goes above and beyond for everyone, especially the youth in Shawnee, which made her the perfect candidate for this award. The Salvation Army is honored to have Sue as a part of our organization, as she is a constant reminder of what “Doing the Most Good” is really about.

Ribbon CuttingThe Annual Banquet this year also served as a Grand Re-opening for The Boys and Girls Club of Shawnee.  The Avedis Foundation granted The Boys & Girls Club $55,000 in 2013 to fund air conditioning in the gymnasium and a remodel of the existing Club.

Arkansas Response Update 5/1/14

Mobile Feeding Units continue to provide food, hydration and emotional and spiritual care to those affected by the tornadoes that swept through Central Arkansas on Sunday evening.

National Weather Service officials announced today the tornado started West of Ferndale and ended in El Paso.  It was on the ground for 41.3 miles and lasted over an hour. This tornado was at maximum strength near Downtown Vilonia.  Information on the EF-4 rating states that its winds are estimated at 166-200 miles per hour.

Homes and businesses throughout Faulkner County and West Pulaski County suffered serious and at times, catastrophic damage.   Captain David Robinson, Corps Officer of The Conway Salvation Army states “Down each of these roads is a home or a neighborhood that is struggling to rebuild.  We want them to know that we are here for them for as long as we are needed.”

On one stop, there was a home completely devastated and abandoned, and another with roof damage, downed trees, and destroyed vehicles.  Salvation Army feeding teams found a group of neighbors helping the residents’ clear away brush and collect the family’s personal items that littered the yard.  Captain Robinson embraced the family with prayer and gave the group a much needed meal.

As of this Wednesday night, The Salvation Army has provided 3,642 prepared meals, 4,065 drinks and 2,304 snacks.  Over 80 individuals/families have been provided emotional and spiritual care.

On Thursday, The Salvation Army will deploy five canteens to the following locations:

  •  West Little Rock – Kanis Command Post, 34106 Kanis Road
  •  2 roving canteens servicing affected areas in Vilonia and 2 roving canteen serving affected area in Mayflower


Volunteers: There are two Volunteer Reception Centers (VRCs) now open in Faulkner County:

Vilonia Primary School
#4 Bane Lane
Conway, AR
Phone:  501-796-2081

Mayflower High
10 Leslie King Drive
Mayflower, AR
Phone: 501-470-0388


Monetary donations continue to be the most critical need.

  • Donors are encouraged to give online at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).
  • You can also text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”*
  • https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/april2014
  • Donations in the form of checks designated to Tornado Relief may also be mailed to:

The Salvation Army Disaster Relief
P.O. Box 1959
Atlanta, GA 30301