saconnects, Volume 7, Number 4, 2021

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Swish! The Red Kettle's history and a slam dunk partnership. VOL. 7  NO. 4, 2021

p. 14

For 12 years, Steven ran from life until one day he entered an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center and into the arms of God. p. 24

Looking for a great gift? Check out your local thrift store first! p. 27

ZORO the Drummer A Christmas gift from The Salvation Army set the stage for his career.

Through your purchases and support of the Others program, The Salvation Army provides fair wages and life changing opportunities to over 1200 artisans in different parts of the world. To see more handmade, quality products and learn more about our mission, visit

Wooden Star Red/White Striped Apron

Embroidered Hearts —JOY

Wood Candle Holders

Journey to Egypt Nativity





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Todd Rapp has seen God's glory in his own life and in the work he does at the Salvation Army church in Batavia, N.Y.

James Hall was all about doing things his way until he learned a better way at the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC).

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Finally, done running


“This is a different ministry than the rest of The Salvation Army,” says Wilfred Leslie, who leads a community outreach built on strong partnerships.

Steven Kaus ran from God for years to serve his addictions, but New Year’s Eve 2019 was a turning point when he found the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC).

Stress is a normal part of life. But when it becomes chronic, it can contribute to a host of health problems. Here are ways to manage it.

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Faith in Action It’s not a church, but offers many of the same services. Meet the special volunteers behind the Salvation Army service center in Hudson, N.Y. page 10

Spiritual Life Development Here are some family– friendly tips to bring you back to being grateful, thankful, and blessed.

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Thrift Store Finds Do you need gifts for the holidays? Visit your local thrift store for a selection of unique and attractive items. page 27




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Butch Conklin Every December, a father and his two daughters make the Salvation Army's mission their own in Middletown, N.Y. page 32

What do basketball and the Red Kettle have in common? Take a shot at this! page 14

COVER STORY Zoro, a legendary drummer, received his first drum set on Christmas morning from The Salvation Army. page 16






The Salvation Army has music programs for people of all ages and skill levels. Each offers the opportunity to engage in a friendly and welcoming, faith-based, musical environment. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT MUSIC.SACONNECTS.ORG




















TERRITORIAL LEADERS Commissioner William A. Bamford III Commissioner G. Lorraine Bamford CHIEF SECRETARY Colonel Philip J. Maxwell COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY Lt. Colonel Kathleen J. Steele EDITOR IN CHIEF Warren L. Maye MANAGING EDITOR Robert Mitchell EDITOR / HISPANIC CORRESPONDENT Hugo Bravo ART DIRECTOR Reginald Raines PUBLICATION MANAGING DESIGNER Lea La Notte Greene GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Keri Johnson, Joe Marino, Mabel Zorzano STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Lulu Rivera CIRCULATION Doris Marasigan

THE SALVATION ARMY MISSION STATEMENT The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

Member since 2015 Award winner 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020

SACONNECTS is published six times per year by The Salvation Army USA’s Eastern Territory. Bulk rate is $12.00 per issue for 25–100 copies. Single subscriptions are available. Write to: SACONNECTS, The Salvation Army, 440 West Nyack Road, West Nyack, NY 10994–1739. Vol. 7, No. 4, 2021. Printed in USA. Postmaster: Send all address changes to: SACONNECTS, 440 West Nyack Road, West Nyack, NY 10994–1739. SACONNECTS accepts advertising. Copyright ©2021 by The Salvation Army, USA Eastern Territory. Articles may be reprinted only with written permission. All scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV) unless indicated otherwise.

In God’s pocket WARREN L. MAYE Editor in Chief

“Drumming ‘in the pocket’ means three things: having great timing, great groove, and serving the music. Playing in such a way allows you to create a ‘pocket’ that gives other musicians in your band space to play. Striking a great balance between these sometimes–subtle concepts is what separates a good drummer from a great drummer,” wrote Mike O'Connor, a noted author at Electronic Drum Advisor. The problem is that, in life, most of us have been taught to “march to the beat of a different drummer” in pursuit of primarily personal desires and dreams, as writer Henry David Thoreau so famously suggested in his book Walden in 1854. Thoreau makes an argument in favor of individualism when he asserts, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” This school of thought has found a lasting place in American culture and is the plotline of many iconic movies and books. But I believe our ultimate sense of wellbeing comes from finding that wonderful place, that “pocket,” that “great balance” where in the rhythm of life, our contribution to humankind comes together with one accord. In this issue of saconnects magazine, you’ll read stories about people who have found that balance in their lives—such as Zoro the Drummer and his ministry of music, Barbie Rodriguez and the hope she brings to people living along the Hudson River, and James Hall through his amazing recovery from drug misuse, to name a few. They are people like you and me who’ve committed to being in God’s pocket, in His spiritual groove, and who serve humanity in His name. This Thanksgiving and Christmas, may you slip into God’s pocket and strike that great balance between work, family, and self. | @saconnects



e c n e i r e Exp i t

Th ere s’ so mu ch ha ppe ning. Come and be a part of it !

DA N C E - T H E AT R E - M U S I C - C O N C E RT S - E V E N T S

The Salvation Army offers programs in music and arts to teach people of all ages how to sing, play instruments, dance, and act. Whether you’re on the stage performing or in the audience worshipping, you can be part of a lifetime of fulfillment and spiritual purpose.

Go to SACONNECTS.ORG to see all we have to offer.



Contributions to The Salvation Army during the 2020 national campaign increased 27 percent from the previous year!

$557.3 million

From its humble San Francisco beginnings in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable campaigns in the United States. It provides Christmas gifts for kids, coats for the homeless, food for the hungry, and countless social service programs year–round.

was raised to provide food, shelter, and social services to

30 million people.

Read more about how the Kettle campaign started on page 14 .

Last year, Jerry

“Christmastime is an opportunity to invite Jesus into your heart and life as Savior and friend.” The Salvation Army provides

—General Brian Peddle international leader of The Salvation Army

food, emergency relief for disaster

misuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.


Jones, Kane Brown, and the Dallas Cowboys showcased #RescueChristmas during the 24th annual Red Kettle Kickoff halftime performance on Thanksgiving Day. The Salvation Army and the Cowboys

survivors, rehabilitation for people suffering from drug and alcohol

Jones, Charlotte

Check out our holiday thrift THRIFT STORE store finds shopping ha s gr ow n in on page popularity recently. But did 27! you know The Salvation Army operates as many as 200 thrift stores in the northeast alone? The next time you go #thriftshopping check out one of our stores where 100 percent of the proceeds fund the Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC), to help people who struggle with alcohol and drugs overcome their substance misuse. Find a store near you by visiting

have helped raise over $2.8 billion for the Red Kettle Campaign.



‘ For Your Glory’ Interview by HUGO BRAVO

Todd Rapp, operations manager, and Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) coordinator at the Salvation Army’s church in Batavia, N.Y., talks about the effects of catching COVID–19 early in the pandemic, how 9/11 introduced him to The Salvation Army, and how God worked miracles as church members helped feed an entire community during the pandemic lockdown.

Twenty years ago, I was an EMS worker at Ground Zero. The day after 9/11, several EMS workers like myself came down from Rochester, N.Y., on a National Guard flight to help with the recovery. As I came off the pile at Ground Zero, a man in a Salvation Army officer uniform handed me a bottle of water. There was a warm connection in that quick, kind gesture that I still remember. Years later, when I was no longer an EMS worker and was wondering what God had next for me, I volunteered at the Batavia church to help during their Christmas distribution. From there, my roles went from helping in their kitchen for the weekly senior lunches to greeting people as they came to the church. Eventually, I was offered a staff position. I feel like it all started when that Army officer offered me water at Ground Zero. To this day, I don’t know who he is, but someday I will.


My wife and I took a cruise to Mexico in January of 2020, before most of us knew of COV ID–19. W hen we returned home, we stayed in Tampa, Fla., at her mother’s house. I spiked a fever and lost my sense of taste. I was taken to urgent care. I thought that I had the flu. But when flu results came back negative, they sent me home, and I returned to New York. For weeks after I was better, I still felt weak at times and had brain fog. After a phone consultation with my doctor in April when I told him about my illness, I went for a blood test. The next day, I was told I had an extremely high number of antibodies from having contracted COVID–19 during my trip to Mexico. I was put on a schedule to donate blood every two weeks for six months; it would be studied and researched for the fight against COVID–19, which was just beginning.

Last December, I woke up one night feeling like I could not breathe. It was like someone was pushing an invisible pillow over my face. I called 911 and was taken to the hospital. The doctors said that having contracted COVID–19 had damaged my heart’s electrical system. I honestly thought that I would not return from the hospital alive. My prayer to God was: “Lord, just help me use this experience for your glory.” He answered by turning my days at the hospital into days of ministry. I met hospital employees who were looking for places to get vaccinated early. I had that info and resources from working at The Salvation Army in Batavia. On my last day at the hospital, there was a homeless man in the bed next to me. He couldn’t be discharged because he had no shoes. The hospital didn’t have any to give him, so I gave him my pair. When the staff asked why I would give a stranger my shoes, I answered, “Why would I not?”

Even though we sent our volunteers home during the pandemic, the employees stayed at the church to face the overwhelming need for food in the community. Before this year, our emergency pantry was used by about 25 families a month. Now we were seeing 100 a day. There were days when, after the distribution was done, we stared at what little we had left, and wondered how we would ever have enough for the next day. Somehow, God always opened the floodgates. Donations would pour in or food from restaurants would get brought to the church, and then we were ready for tomorrow. It was like the biblical miracle of the loaves and fishes, but in a modern–day setting.

My biggest lesson from the last year and a half is that when we have a job to do, no matter how big or small, we cannot do it with our own strength. If God is not at the center of what we are doing, there will be struggle. When we are at our weakest, God is at His strongest, and when we are desperate for a break, God continues to work. He is never on break.

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A true outdoor Army by HUGO BRAVO

A local Salvation Army church and its pastors are usually the hub of the Army’s ministry in a small town. But in places where that church is absent, a Salvation Army Service Extension unit and its volunteers make sure that the community’s needs are met. “This is a different ministry than the rest of The Salvation Army,” says Wilfred Leslie, service extension director of the Army’s Massachusetts Division. “A service extension unit has no corps, no pastors, and no four walls. We have to be out in the community; it’s the only way we’ll be successful.” There are challenges to operate a Salvation Army–centered ministry without a church building to welcome people or uniformed officers to represent the Army in the community. But even without a central hub, it is still possible to create working relationships and continue the mission of The Salvation Army. “Our coalition’s strategy for recruitment is focused on tapping into agencies that have expertise and connections that we don’t. We reach out to senior centers, veterans’ groups, banks, other churches, and even mom and pop stores. When we have their expertise, we don’t have to be experts on everything; we can do what we do best.” Massachusetts has between 400 and 500 year–round volunteers. “It has been such a pleasure to work with and get to know them,” says Leslie. There are members like Tim Veglas, an Army employee who hosts Family Fun Days in parks and town commons with other charities and churches. Every group hosts a different activity for the community to take part in and enjoy. Tim does several of these events per year, which are attended by over 200 children and their families. Volunteers John and Dwin Schuler have been the face of kettle season for years. During the COVID–19 lockdown, the


90–year–old couple learned to use Zoom and talked to the local media about the work the Army was currently doing. Leslie is also proud of Service Extension’s “ministry of presence,” a spiritual referral network of church leaders in the community who serve as a listening ear. Sometimes, that work is just as valuable as food or clean clothes, says Leslie. “When most people come to The Salvation Army for help, they’re in a bad spot in life. We have connections with deacons and pastors of local Christian churches. They will sit with them and listen to what is going on in their lives. We’ve offered that service for 20 years now; I can’t imagine how many lives those church leaders have influenced.” During the Salvation Army’s COVID–19 response, every member of Leslie’s team was encouraged to participate in the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) effort. “It was an ‘all hands on deck,’ and ‘sleeves rolled up’ approach. They had the training, and everyone got involved in some way, from delivering meals to driving trucks for food banks,” says Leslie. Leslie says that ma k ing Ser v ice Extension into a larger aspect of the Salvation Army’s ministry is the next natural step. “If we could become partners in ministry with the ARCs and the churches, there would be no limit to the programs we could provide,” says Leslie. The Bridging the Gap program, another Salvation Army ministry, is an example of what Service Extension can do to better serve the community. “Bridging the Gap has satellite offices; I’d like to see that done with Service

PROGRAMS SPONSORED BY THE MASSACHUSETTS SERVICE EXTENSION FAMILY FUN DAYS Along with games and activities, Service Extension partners with the business community to purchase and distribute backpacks filled with school supplies. VETERAN FUNDRAISERS Service Extension runs “boot drives” to raise funds for veteran assistance. Local service unit volunteers, as well as local partner agencies, commandeer an intersection with open–topped kettle buckets to collect cash donations. BACKPACK 68 In the city of Attleboro, Service Extension delivered the Backpack 68 program from January to June of 2020. Initially, it provided food during the 68 hours from the end of school on Fridays until it opened on Mondays. They've expanded it to 7 days every other week through Salvation Army–branded food boxes. . VIRTUAL KETTLE In 2020, the Service Extension unit in Wellesley, Mass., participated in the 2020 virtual kettle and raised $40,000, the most of any corps or service unit.

Extension too. We could engage in every level and help churches that have to focus on several communities; engagement would not be limited in any single location.” “That’s always the vision of Service Extension; community engagement. It’s the basis of the work of The Salvation Army.”


Hank rings in Christmas cheer!


Hank, a bell–ringing horse, is a common sight at Salvation Army fundraisers in the Lexington, Ky., area. A Kentuckyborn Tennessee walking horse, Hank was abandoned by his owner and left to starve when he was just three. Tammi Regan, an avid horse enthusiast, saw him standing, emaciated and alone, in a muddy pasture. She rescued him and nursed him back to health. As Tammi’s first rescue, Hank became the brand ambassador for the rescue organization that bears his face and name, For Hank’s Sake. Tammi promised to provide a lifetime of love, comfort, and care for Hank and any other horses in need. She has since rescued eight other horses and adoptrd four retired racehorses.


Tammi also made another promise to her veteran father, Duane C. Regan, who championed all of her animal rescue efforts and who loved The Salvation Army. After introducing her dad to Hank and feeling the sublime joy that passed between them, Tammi told him, “Dad, I promise you’ll see me and Hank ringing The Salvation Army kettle bells at Christmastime someday.” For more information about Hank, go to





It’s still the go–to place to get a free turkey at Thanksgiving and toys for Christmas. You also can stop by during the week and pick up a lunch and a food box, all served with a warm smile from a caring staff of volunteers. Housed in a non–descript building in the heart of Hudson, N.Y., the remnants of a former church are still visible here, if you look closely. Where the pulpit once stood is now the entrance to a food storage closet. A simple cross adorns a wall that is stacked to the ceiling with food boxes. From a back office, a wall–hanging that depicts Jesus Christ overlooks the whole operation. The building hasn’t been a church for about a decade, but The Salvation Army Service Center still retains a huge presence in this rural community along the Hudson River in upstate New York. The center has its own advisory board and performs most functions that a Salvation Army church would, except worship services. Service centers are located in mostly suburban and rural areas (see page 7). “We engage the community and try to spread a little love, a little joy, a little hope, and a little Jesus, every day,” says Barbie Rodriguez, the center’s assistant director. Center Director Darcy Connor oversees the operation with 18 volunteers, who maintain staggered work schedules. The center serves lunch on weekdays and distributes food boxes twice a week. Besides Thanksgiving and Christmas distributions, the volunteers also give away hams at Easter and backpacks of food when kids go to school in the fall.


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Center Director Darcy Connor and assistant Barbie Rodriguez unload food boxes.

Cooks Judy Weinman and Dawn Bucci prepare the daily lunch boxes for pickup.

Dedicated to the task During COVID–19, when some recipients couldn’t get into town, the volunteers started “Hope on Wheels” and took food to rural areas and trailer parks. “We’re going to underserved areas where people can’t get to our food pantry so we’re taking the food to them,” Connor said. “We do a lot to stay involved in the community.” The volunteers, who all live in the Hudson area, toil without complaint and handle their duties with aplomb. They dodge boxes in a small space that is crammed with food. People pick up vegetables, bread, and other goods on a table in front of the building. “There’s good energy here,” Connor said. “People want to do this job. They want to volunteer here because they know it’s such good work. I feel so blessed to have all of these people around me who are committed to our mission, and they do it with so much love. “I have a different cook every day of the week and they’re all people who are committed to our community and committed to do good with The Salvation Army. It’s awesome.” One of the more loyal volunteers is 81– year–old Charlie Proper, who lives a block



away from the center and has been volunteering for 12 years. He shows up five days a week and “works harder than anyone I have ever seen,” Connor said. Proper, who formerly worked for two different department stores before retiring, says he does “a little bit of everything,” including packing food boxes and helping with “Hope on Wheels.” “I figure it’s a good cause and we’ve got a good group of volunteers here,” he said. “It all blends together. I just want to help people. We do a lot here. It’s a small place but we get a lot done.”

All in this together Proper is a lifelong bachelor and most of his family members are gone. He knows he could retire and lead the easy life, but his parents taught him to work hard. Today, he’s still going strong. Proper said of his volunteering, “If it helps people get food, why not? It makes me feel good.” The first person to arrive in the morning is usually volunteer Debra Kelsey. She shows up at 5:30 a.m., two days a week, to sort and pack the food and get it ready for the day. “I’m an early bird, so it’s OK,” she says good–naturedly. “I just enjoy it. It’s rewarding. We have a nice group that volunteers. It’s nice camaraderie.” Kelsey attends a nearby Catholic church and said her faith is a motivator. She enjoys hooking people up with support, such as seniors, domestic violence victims, and others. “It all comes down to service and giving back to your community—monetary–wise, time–wise, and friendship–wise,” she says. “We get to know our neighbors by doing this. We know their likes, their dislikes, and their families. Sometimes we can hook them up with some help.” Kelsey met Connor 20 years ago. Today, her comments give voice to the close–knit nature of the volunteers and staff. “It’s very much a family affair,” she said. Rodriguez added, “Everyone who comes here, it’s like they were hand–picked. Everybody’s personality is so different, but it just works. It’s amazing.”


“ If it helps people get food, why not? It makes me feel good.” —Charlie Proper, volunteer pictured above

That’s certainly true for Dawn Bucci and Judy Weinman, volunteer cooks who went to kindergarten together, graduated high school together, and now cook together every Wednesday at the service center.

A community in need Bucci met Connor several years ago when she ran the food pantry at Columbia–Greene Community College in Hudson. Now she’s a regular with The Salvation Army. Bucci said, “I like to cook, and I like to help people. The community needs it. “I was brought up to help others,” she says. “I feel fortunate in my life, so if I can help someone walk away from here with food in their belly, I’m happy.” Weinman, who owns All Aboard Travel in Hudson and attends a local Dutch Reformed church, said her husband, Bob, urged her to volunteer at The Salvation Army when the travel industry slowed due to COVID–19. He serves on the service

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center’s advisory board. For the past year, Weinman has helped cook lunch every Wednesday and has volunteered for the last 15 years or so at The Salvation Army. “There’s a community need,” she said. “Anybody who has the opportunity to spend even one day here will realize how much need there is and would want to help out.” The volunteers say the Hudson area has some homeless people, but many clients are seniors and struggling families who are just trying to make ends meet. The area is also home to two state prisons. Newly released inmates often come by for food and clothing vouchers. Connor said rents in the small, artsy community are “astronomical.” “If they have to spend money on rent, they don’t have a lot of extra money, so they come to us for food,” Connor said. “The pandemic also hit some people hard.” That need helped lead Rodriguez, a former pre–school teacher and mother of eight, to the center as a volunteer last summer. Rodriguez often saw children come to school with no lunch or in dirty clothes and wanted to be more involved. She calls her eventual hiring “Holy Spirit–led.” “I wanted to give back. I looked online, came here, volunteered, and loved it,” says Rodriguez, who attends an Assembly of God church and hopes to lead a Bible study at the center. “When I returned to my full–time job as a preschool teacher, it wasn’t as fulfilling. I prayed about it for a job to open up.”

“ I was brought up to help others.” —Dawn Bucci, volunteer pictured above

service center, she longed to be the director someday and came on board six years ago. “I said, ‘I would love that job because I love what they do and what they represent.’ I am a Christian and it’s in my heart. I’m doing this because of my love of God. I love people and I want to help people,” said Connor, who formerly attended a local Reformed church. “God has been good to me and I’m driven to do this for God.” During COVID–19, the center did more than deliver food to rural areas that lacked transportation or nearby grocery stores. The center also served as a vaccination site. It’s just another way Connor likes to stay connected to the community in the absence of a church. “We do so much here, and I want everyone to know how much we do,” she said. “The only thing we don’t have is the church service, but I pray every day for our people and Barbie will pray with people. We’re both spiritual, so this is perfect for us. “I’m not a Salvationist, a soldier, a captain or anything, but I am so committed to God and so committed to this work. It’s the best of both worlds for me. All of us are so happy to be here and happy to help people.”

Yielding to the Spirit In January, a full–time position opened up, and Rodriguez likes using her spiritual gifts on the job. She asks to pray with people when she feels they may have spiritual needs. “Whatever I feel the Lord is telling me, I will tell them,” she says. “The Holy Spirit lets me know who would be receptive. What fulfills me is being obedient to the Lord.” The motivation is similar for Connor, who is beloved by her volunteers and formerly served on the advisory board when the service center was a full–fledged Salvation Army church. When the church became a


Debra Kelsey sorts bread for the daily food table at the service center in Hudson, N.Y.



Kettles and Baskets by WARREN L. MAYE


ndelible was the mark made on American culture in December 1891 when two inventors of a different kind came up with similar but revolutionary ideas: Joseph McFee, of San Francisco, Calif., and James Naismith of Montreal, Canada. Naismith taught 18 men to play a game which required that they drop a ball into an elevated peach basket. At the time, they were students at the School for Christian Workers (later the International YMCA Training School, now Springfield College) in Springfield, Mass., and needed something to do for recreation. They quickly learned to enjoy the activity, as it attracted crowds who cheered whenever a player scored a goal. Dr. Naismith, who introduced his invention—the game of basketball—never imagined it would grow into a sport that today is played by more than 300 million people worldwide.

their shoulders and a cap. They took turns ringing the bell. Just as Naismith taught his students to drop a ball into a basket, McFee also taught passers–by to drop financial donations into a kettle. In doing so, both ballplayers and donors captured the exhilarating feeling that comes when one finds purpose and meaning in reaching a goal—be it points scored in a basketball game or funds raised to help the poor.

From coast to coast Six years later, Salvation Army kettles had spread from the west coast to the east coast’s Boston area. That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners being served for needy individuals and families. In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first sit–down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a tradition that started long before the first basketball game was played there in 1925. McFee’s kettle was so successful that it launched a global tradition. Today in the United States, The Salvation Army assists more than 4.5 million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile, and many European countries. Contributions to the kettles enable The Salvation Army to continue its year–round effort to help people who would otherwise go hungry.

Keep the pot boiling Meanwhile, Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army pastor, was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco went hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for 1,000 of the city's poorest individuals. However, finding funding for the project was an intimidating challenge for the former English sailor. As he thought about the problem, his mind drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called "Simpson's Pot" into which passers–by tossed a coin or two to help the poor. The next day, Captain McFee got a crab pot from a local wharf and placed it at the junction of Oakland Ferry Landing and Market Street. To elevate the pot, He hung it from a tripod. He also placed a sign above it that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." McFee adorned it with a colorful plant to attract onlookers. He and other officers wore their blue uniforms. Women wore a bonnet and a cape; men wore epaulets on


SA and NBRA team up In June of 2020, the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) teamed up with The Salvation Army to raise money and awareness to support long–term response efforts to help people affected by COVID–19. Members of the NBRA, which includes members of the National Basketball Association, Women’s National Basketball Association and G League, selected The Salvation Army as their partner due to the organization’s ability to provide a wide range of essential, tailored services to meet the needs of local communities, as well as their national and international reach. A $25,000 gift from the NBRA was divided among The Salvation Army USA and The Salvation Army of Canada, representing the breadth of teams in the three member leagues. The funds will be used specifically for COVID–19 response and services, including food, shelter, rent and utility assistance, and other services for people affected by the pandemic. “During this challenging time, we have discussed as a group how we can best give back,” said Mark Denesuk, NBRA spokesperson. “Like so many, our jobs were put on hold, but we are fortunate that the financial impact was not as great for us as it is for the country’s most vulnerable. We know The Salvation Army has the network and capability to use this gift to its fullest potential and impact the lives of those who are struggling in the United States and Canada.” As social restrictions lift across the country, the NBRA and The Salvation Army will plan a volunteer day so that members can see the direct, positive impact that this donation will have.

The Salvation Army annually helps nearly 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol misuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is “doing the most good” at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first–ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct– service nonprofit. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

To contribute to the NBRA’s donation, visit




he musician known as “Zoro the Drummer” is one of the most famous percussionists in the world, but his long career in the music business might never have happened without The Salvation Army. Zoro, who has drummed for some of the music industry’s biggest acts, including New Edition, grew up in a family of poor Mexican immigrants. He guesses the family moved 30 times as his single mother, Maria, struggled to raise seven children on her own. He was just 10 years old when his family moved from the rough streets of Compton, Calif., to the small mountain town of Grants Pass, Ore., in April 1971. Zoro was still going through culture shock eight months later, and his mother wanted to make his Christmas special. She went to the local Salvation Army and signed up for Zoro to receive a Mickey Mouse toy drum set, which he had seen in the Sears catalogue for $9.99. The young Zoro still wasn’t sure if he would get anything that Christmas until Salvation Army officers showed up with presents for him and his siblings. The Mickey Mouse drum set was among the

bag of goodies. “That drum set is what got me started,” Zoro recalls. “It’s what got me excited about drumming. I remember destroying it pretty quickly because it was only made of paper heads, but it was enough to connect me to my destiny. From that point on, I wanted to join the school band and play the drums because I was ignited by that Christmas.” However, stardom seemed like a longshot at the time. When the family moved to Oregon, five members of Zoro’s family lived in a 1962 Chevy Nova. The family later acquired a tent and then a 13–foot camper, but they had no running water or electricity and lived on a small parcel of land. Zoro and his family also experienced racism in Oregon and often scrounged through charity drop–boxes just to find clothing. “You could say it was a pretty tough and challenging upbringing, but God had a plan for my life and used all of it to make me who I am today,” Zoro says. “Mine is like a ‘Rudy,’ ‘Rocky,’ ‘Forrest Gump,’ ‘The Blind Side’ kind of story.”

A prodigy discovered Despite the poverty, Zoro said he felt God’s presence “as far back as I can remember.” His mother made sure the family attended Catholic churches in Compton, but a group of young 1970s “Jesus freaks” known as “The Shilohs” befriended the family in Oregon and let them take showers. A Baptist pastor would pick up Zoro and his family to attend church. “When I look back on my life, no matter how difficult or rough it was, God sent people with the Father’s heart all along the way. It was full of hardship, but full of the faithfulness of God too,” he said. Zoro tried many times to get into the music program at Jerome Prairie Elementary and Lincoln Savage Junior High in Grants Pass, but he was turned away and told there were already too many drummers. He soon landed a job as a custodian at his high school, where he also cleaned the band room when no one else was there. “I could do it really fast and I always left myself 10 minutes to just jump on the drums,” Zoro recalls. “I was just sort of daydreaming while playing on the drums. God had given me an ability to play from the word go without any instruction. I could already play. I wasn’t great, but I had the rhythm. I could hear the beats, and I had some natural talent.” One day during his sophomore year, the band director caught him jamming. Zoro thought he would be fired, but the director went to get another teacher to hear him drum some more. “They looked at each other, and the band director said, ‘You’ve got a musical gift, kid. We could use you in various bands.’ I was discovered as the janitor at my high school,” he said. Zoro worked two summer jobs—16 hours

The set that started it all: At age 10, Zoro received a drum set just like this one for Christmas from The Salvation Army. It was the spark that eventually led to a long and successful career as a musician.


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a day—before his junior year and bought his first professional drum set for $1,500. He also took some drumming lessons. “I came back to school with my new drum set and was ready to do this,” he said. “From the moment I started, I just felt like this is what I’m going to do.”

Hitting it big While growing up, Zoro listened to rock music by such artists as Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, and the Doors, but he also enjoyed R&B, jazz, big band, Latin, and fusion. His early musical influences included several Motown acts such as The Supremes, The Temptations, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown, Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin. His mother also made sure he heard other great vocalists like Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Doris Day, and Frank Sinatra, who he saw in concert as a child and called it “life–changing.” Zoro’s mother also introduced him to mariachi, a genre of regional Mexican music. “I pretty much heard everything, and that had a big influence on me before I played one note, because I heard all that different kind of music—and I loved it all. I still do.” Zoro moved to Eugene, Ore., in 1980. After graduating from high school there, he joined a band with aspirations of being the house band at Disneyland. While his band didn’t get the gig, the move left him in the Los Angeles area, and family urged him to take advantage of the opportunity. “I felt like the Lord gave me this idea, and I went to the lawn of Beverly Hills High School and just started jamming,” Zoro says. “I thought I would get noticed cranking Earth, Wind & Fire on my boom box. I would go there and just jam each day. I just kept going to the school every day as if I was a student. No one knew I wasn’t.” Zoro soon met Kennedy Gordy, the son of Berry Gordy, the founder of the Motown record label that represented many of the artists he listened to as a child. He also met Lenny Kravitz, who he would later play drums behind. The two also became lifelong friends.


More than a musician: In addition to being an accomplished, internationally recognized drummer, Zoro is also an author, motivational speaker, and one of the pastors for Bayside Church, a megachurch in Northern California. For more information, go to:

He stayed in Los Angeles and was recommended for other big gigs. By 1983, he was performing for Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire and other Motown acts. His big break came in 1985 when he auditioned for New Edition, a group he called the “Jackson Five of the ‘80s.” “That’s when my ship really came in, because they were huge,” Zoro says. “Soon I was playing at Madison Square Garden and all over the world with Bobby Brown.”

Why the name Zoro? Over the years, Zoro has also toured and recorded with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Jody Watley, Sean Lennon, Philip Bailey, Lisa Marie Presley, and many others. He also has been honored by several drumming magazines, including Drum! and Modern Drummer, the latter naming him the No. 1 R&B drummer in the world. The drum magazines often highlight Zoro’s persona. His real name is Danny

Donnelly, but he explains that the nickname comes from his days in Compton, when friends would encourage him at age 7 to go into stores and steal. Not wanting to be recognized, he would don a black plastic mask. Being of Mexican descent, Zoro related to the fictional character, though he spells it differently. “I felt like the real Zorro, robbing from the rich to give to the poor,” he said. “I felt I was like him because I always had a heart for the underdog.” When Zoro landed with New Edition, the name and image stuck. He wore a Mexican bolero hat, and it caught the attention of popular teen and drumming magazines, where he was often featured despite being a backup musician. “Because of my persona and my name and my image, it caught on and I became very much a celebrity of my own,” he said. He’s toured as a musician for more than three decades and, while he admits he


didn’t always lead a perfect life, Zoro didn’t indulge in the negative excesses of the music industry like so many others. “I was never attracted to drugs and drinking,” he said. “To this day, I’ve never been drunk or high in my life. It wasn’t anything for me to resist. I grew up so poor that the idea of throwing away any money seemed foolish to me. I was trying to build something in my life.”

Music and ministry While he shared the stage with household names, Zoro said the only place he has ever found fulfillment is in Christ. He has watched other famous musicians put their trust in fame, their careers, health, and politics, but nothing ever seemed to satisfy. Nothing filled the spiritual void in their lives—or his. “Christ is the only thing that really has any significant meaning,” Zoro says. “Life is very fleeting. You’re here one minute and gone tomorrow, and nothing has any lasting value that we put our hope and trust in other than Him. The only thing that has any real depth or that makes my life full and purposeful is my closeness to Christ. “Christ is everything. I have a lot of peace in my life, even though I live in a world that has no peace. It gives me peace, because for all the things I don’t understand, I put my trust in Him.” Zoro the man is a lot more than an accomplished musician. He is also an author, motivational speaker, and serves as a pastor at a California megachurch. He sees himself as an amalgamation of several Bible characters by expressing the heart of David as a minstrel and worshiper, John the Baptist’s evangelistic fervor, Paul’s teaching ability, and the encouragement of Barnabas. “I’m all of them in different seasons, and, on different days, I use different gifts,” he says. “They’ve all opened different doors and allowed me to reach different people. God has wired me to be all of them. “As a kid, God gave me the dream of being a drummer, a preacher, a speaker, and a teacher. I’ve been doing all of those things for a majority of my adult life.” Known in the music business as the


“Minister of Groove,” Zoro ministers to young married couples at Bayside Church, which boasts several locations in Northern California. He and his wife, Renne, have attended Bayside for three years. The couple, married for 26 years, has two children, who are both serving Christ.

“Ministry has always co–existed with my music.”

Everyone has a gift It’s also not uncommon to see Zoro speaking, teaching, and drumming in the praise band, featuring Christian musician Lincoln Brewster. The work is nothing new for Zoro, who has been ministering independently for 30 years, speaking at churches, conferences, seminars, and even prisons. “I would be on tour with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and then, on an off night I’d be speaking at a church,” Zoro said. “Ministry has always co–existed with my music.” Zoro over the years has led countless people to Christ and given away Christian books, including one of his own: Soar!: 9 Proven Keys for Unlocking Your Limitless Potential. His speaking follows a similar theme and is one of Zoro’s passions. “How do you take the gifts God gave you and develop them and use them for God? It’s really about discovering your gifts and developing your gifts, so you deploy your gifts for God,” he said. “It’s why we’re here.” Zoro said he usually shows slides from his past and tells his story when he speaks. “That’s always going to come out of me,” he said. “The burning message in my heart is to equip people to reach their potential. There are many people who want to reach their potential and calling, but they just don’t know how. Every preacher or speaker kind of has a burning message that lives within them. That’s mine. “I always talk about purpose, about identity, and using your gifts to make a difference. I’ve always been very practical and pragmatic, so I know how to do it, because the Lord has shown me these things throughout my life. I share the hardship of my life and how to have vision and tenacity and perseverance and to push through to develop what God has given you. It’s always been in my heart to help people find Jesus,

Volume 7 Number 4, 2021

Tough and challenging beginnings: As Mexican immigrants, Zoro (far right), his mother, and his six siblings were forced to move frequently. Sometimes they lived in a tent, in a camper, and even out of their car. For more on Zoro’s story, visit:

and through my story, to find hope that you never count yourself out. God always has a plan, even through the darkest stages. My life is literally an impossibility.”

Coming full circle In fact, Zoro said he has been reminded of his past and God’s provision many times in his life. During one speaking engagement several years ago in Oregon, Zoro told the story of a pastor who had bought him shoes when he was a boy and sent him to Camp Canby Grove. When Zoro had finished speaking, the engagement organizers told him the camp was two minutes away and asked if he wanted to go. When they arrived, he saw that the rustic camp looked much like it did back in the day. “When I entered that same sanctuary, I had this overwhelming sense of God’s hand on my life from the very beginning,” Zoro says. “That’s where I officially walked to the altar and invited Christ into my heart. I felt an overwhelming sense of God. I felt my life had come full circle. That’s where the journey began. I guess you could say He sort of called me out.” Zoro feels the same way when he looks back to that Christmas in 1971. His family has found several photos of that visit by The Salvation Army, but no one took a shot of Zoro with his drum set. A few years ago, his brother found the exact vintage drum set on eBay and bought it for Zoro. “I’m very nostalgic,” Zoro said. “It’s something I still have in my office. That shows you how important it was to me.” Zoro said The Salvation Army earned a special place in his heart, and he


thinks people sometimes forget what the organization’s name actually means. “Sometimes you hear a name so much you don’t even remember what it is because it’s a common phrase, but it’s The Salvation Army,” Zoro says. “They’re about the business of Jesus, and they’re about the business of God through what they do. There are no words to properly show my gratitude for just what they’ve done for millions of people as an organization and how they’ve lived out the calling of the Gospel. “The benevolent work they do to help society and to help the underprivileged and to bring the gospel to people is unprecedented.” Zoro says he would love to reconnect with The Salvation Army by speaking at events as he does with Big Brothers Big Sisters, another organization that helped him as a child. “I would welcome the opportunity,” Zoro says “I would be very open to that. I usually open up with a big rousing drum solo and then I go into my story. I think the tie–in with my first drum set being a gift from The Salvation Army, and then me playing the drums at a Salvation Army event, I think that’s another full circle moment that has to happen.”





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Surrendering his will by ROBERT MITCHELL

In July 2019, James Hall and a friend were traveling from Detroit to his native Kentucky when police pulled them over in Toledo, Ohio. A search of the car revealed 2.5 ounces of opioids the pair was taking back to sell. “By the time I got to booking, I made a decision I was going to at least make a go of recovery,” Hall recalls. Hall, who had been a passenger in the car, was given a choice: six months in jail or go to recovery at the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Toledo. He chose the ARC, but admits he was apprehensive at first. “I had been raised in the church and kind of walked away with a bad taste in my mouth. Frankly, it scared me to death

to have to go face–to–face with God again,” Hall says. “Once I got to the ARC and started on this journey, all that changed. I really got serious about my recovery and about God, and it’s really changed my whole life. “I’ve been to other rehabs, but they never worked. This one worked, and I feel like I owe my life to The Salvation Army. God’s the one who led me here. It wasn’t my choice.” When James walked away from church at the age of 12, he eventually replaced it with pot, alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamines. “Anything mind–altering, I was all about it,” he said. “The drugs took precedence over anything else I was doing that was honest and good. I lost interest in God. I tried to do everything my own way and through my own will, and it got me nowhere.” Following that traffic stop, everything came full circle when he entered the ARC a month later and met Envoys Mike and Lori Price, who helped him work through his issues. “They convinced me I needed to surrender and give up my will and my life to God,” he said. “It took about a month. I recommitted my life to Jesus. It’s an overwhelming and wonderful feeling sometimes. I try to give back what was given to me and stay immersed in recovery.” Hall, 47, a former elementary teacher and coach in Ashland, Ky., graduated from the ARC program in January 2020 and is now helping form a recovery non-profit called "The Gap of

What makes the ARC program so successful? It’s a perfect mix of recovery, work therapy, and spirituality—if you come in and surrender to the program, which is what you must do. If you don’t, it’s not going to work for you. If you don’t do that, you’re not ready anyway. It’s about the commitment. They provide the service, but you must put in the work. I mean that both literally and figuratively. You must put in the work for your recovery. Work therapy is also an integral part of why it works. My occupation when I came into the ARC was slinging dope; I had no pride in what I did. I did it so I could support my habit and make a living. To come in here and do some honest work helped me take pride in myself. I hadn’t done an honest day’s work in a long time. To come in here and work made me feel like a human being again. It made me feel honest about what I was doing. In most of the rehabs where I’ve gone, they provide all the services. Here, I work eight hours a day and to me, I work for my room and board and food. Then there are the classes, which helped me get my relationship with God back. There are also the people I’ve met while being in this program. They are examples of success with sobriety. We have fellowship and comradery. The way we hold each other up and accountable is an integral part of my recovery. If I had gone anywhere else, I wouldn’t be sober. I would have gone back to what I was doing. Nowhere else would have changed my life the way the ARC has.

Toledo." He worships at the Toledo, Ohio, Temple Corps and is also active in Alcoholics Anonymous and Heroin Anonymous. “My relationship continues to evolve and grow every day,” he said. “I try to stay in conscious contact with God throughout the day and build my relationship and just do the next right thing. “God’s the one who led me here. It wasn’t my choice. I take it one day at a time, but after 35 years of addiction, I’m on the right road.”



Finally, done running by ROBERT MITCHELL


wo years ago when Steven Kaus walked through the doors of the Salvation Army’s Providence, R.I., Adult Rehabilitation Center on New Year’s Eve, he wanted to find a new life rather than celebrate a new year. Kaus , who was born in Nebraska, married in 1998 and he and his wife welcomed a daughter, Kayleigh, the next year. However, the couple’s good times were short lived, and they divorced in 2001. Steven headed to Texas, where his mother, Mary, lived. “I started drinking as soon as I got to Texas. I think I was an alcoholic from the first night I decided to drink,” says Steven, who was 24 at the time. “I refused to drink my whole life up to that point, because my biological father was a real bad alcoholic.” In fact, his father died of cirrhosis of the liver when Steven was just 12, and he had determined to stay away from alcohol. “When I started drinking, I liked the way it made me feel, because suddenly I didn’t have to be concerned about the pain that I was going through,” he says. “The partying was fun at first, and I had good jobs and that sort of thing. But then I started hurting a lot of people, especially my family. I hurt the people closest to me.” For 12 years, Kaus was estranged from most of his family, including his daughter. As his life spiraled out of control from drinking, he decided it was best to stay away.

The runaway prodigal The years that followed saw Kaus in and out of jail for various drug and alcohol offenses in Nebraska and Texas, which


included more serious charges such as armed robbery and assaulting a police officer. He estimates he did a total of eight years behind bars, often in short sentences of just two or three months each. “I would get out of jail, get drunk, and then do something stupid—sometimes on purpose—to escape the way I was living,” he said. “I figured that, if I was locked up, it would make a safe place for the rest of the world. I knew I was no good to myself or anyone else.” After being released from a three–year prison stint in Nebraska in 2018, Steven headed back home to Texas, but he could tell his drinking hurt his mother. He hit the road again and ended up in Seattle, where he injected methamphetamine for the first and only time of his life. “When I had some money in my pocket, I would get really drunk and then go out looking for anything I could find on a particular night,” he recalls. "I would work someplace for a few weeks at a time to get money to drink. Then I would enjoy a city I had never been to. “But I would get tired of where I was. Then, most of the time, I would end up doing something stupid. So, before I ended up going back to jail some more, I would just get out of there.” In August of 2019, Kaus made his way to Maine, where he briefly found some stability working as a mason. “I was making a lot of money, so I was drinking and smoking marijuana like crazy,” he said.

God grabs his attention As Christmas approached, Kaus blew one of his checks by getting drunk. He got on a bus and traveled to a casino in Tiverton, R.I. The next morning, Dec. 22, he woke up on the floor of his casino hotel room. At that moment, he had what he believes was an out–of–body experience. “That morning, I think I was dead. I’m not really sure,” he said. “I didn’t really know it at the time, but I was floating above my body and the only thing that was real to me was the thought, this is how your daughter, this is how your sister, this is how your family sees you. This is your life. That was the last time I did drugs or alcohol.” Steven called his mother, who was a pastor, and told her he thought his life was about to change. He got into a detox unit in nearby Providence, where one of the nurses told him he should check out The Salvation Army. She said the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) program had helped one of her family members. With the world ready to party and ring in a new year, Kaus walked through the doors of the Providence ARC on New Year’s Eve 2019. Today, he calls it “the greatest thing that ever happened in my life.” But he was wary at first. “I didn’t really know what to think,” he said. “I didn’t know much about the Lord at the time. My idea from growing up was that God was this big angry guy in the sky and, every time I made a mistake, He would kind of beat me upside the head. “God brought me where I needed to be when He led me here to the ARC. God just lined everything up. It was the right place at the right time.”

Finding a home Kaus was immediately enamored with Major Brian Thomas, the ARC administrator, and didn’t seem like the other Christians he had met in his life. “I could see how much he cared about people like me who were here,” Kaus said. “That made me feel comfortable that I was in a good spot, because I haven’t been loved; I haven’t felt any of that my whole life.” A few months later, when COVID–19 hit, Kaus was further impressed when Major Thomas moved into the ARC and did devotions with the beneficiaries each morning. While locked down at the ARC during the pandemic, Kaus



soon had two dreams that would dramatically change the direction of his life. In the first one, he and Thomas were together wearing Salvation Army officer uniforms. In the second, Kaus was being chased as he ran from pursuers. One of the characters in his dream told him, “Steven, you need to stop running, Your life cannot begin if you continue to run.” The next morning after devotions, Thomas pulled Kaus aside and told him that during the service, he saw a vision of officer lapels on Kaus’ shoulders. Steven shared his dreams and Thomas’s vision with his mother, who wasn’t surprised. She told him she had been at a conference years earlier when a woman had told her that Steven would struggle but needed to do so for God to use him to his fullest. His mother had written the prophecy in her Bible and was told not to reveal it until the appointed time. “All of this happened within a week,” Steven says with astonishment in his voice.

God keeps working The miracles of that week continued. Steven believes his salvation experience also happened then. “I was just sitting privately and thinking about all that happened that week. I said, ‘God, I need You and I know You’re chasing me down. I know you brought me here for a purpose. I’m tired of running, and I just want to give You my life. I know there’s a big mess You have to fix, but I’m going to trust You to do that.’ That was a real solid and profound turning point in my life when that happened,” Kaus said. In July 2020, he graduated from the ARC program and became a “houseman,” one of the leaders who

lives at the ARC and oversees the center and its beneficiaries. Thomas calls Kaus “an excellent houseman who is filled with the Holy Spirit and compassion for the beneficiaries of the center.” Kaus teaches a men’s group on Thursdays called “Men and Integrity,” and he also leads the rules and regulations class for new beneficiaries. Kaus has also preached in Thomas’ absence, led staff devotions, and he prays and studies the Bible on his own “to strengthen my relationship with God,” he says. He also hits the streets of Providence once a week to minister to people struggling with drugs and alcohol. “They’re living the same kind of life I used to live. I reach out to them, buy them a coffee, give them a few books, and talk to them about the ARC program. I encourage them to somehow have a desire to do better in their lives,” Kaus said. “I certainly have an understanding that the things I’ve had to go through, I went through so I could have this testimony that is developing, and at some point, I will be able to help someone. If I’ve helped one person because of my experiences, I think that’s a success.”

Fixing the brokenness As his spiritual life grew, Kaus began fasting and started to see more miracles. He longed to reunite with his family, some of whom had said he was “dead” to them. Others called him “no good” and asked that he never contact them again. Steven soon got a letter from his Aunt Cheryl. Then his mother called to say his sister, Melissa, wanted to reach out. Nonetheless, he didn’t want to get his hopes up and continued to do God’s work. One day, he was asked to handle things

while Thomas was away. “Something special happened to me,” he says. “I don’t really remember what I talked about, but I heard some positive things from the people who were there. I had a hard test from the Lord, but I think I handled it well.” A few weeks later, on the 18–month anniversary of the day he found sobriety, Steven was playing music in the chapel when he got a text he had longed to see. His mother said that his estranged daughter wanted to connect. “That was a revelation from God, in and of itself,” he said. “Since then, we’ve been speaking every day. She’s been blowing up my phone.” Kaus took classes to be a member of the Salvation Army’s church. He hopes to someday become a Salvation Army officer and don real uniform epaulettes on his shoulders rather than the visionary ones Major Thomas saw on him. “I really feel God is calling me to be an officer and to serve Him through The Salvation Army. That’s what I’m doing at this point,” Kaus says.

Seeing God’s hand Now 44, Kaus likes to talk about the presence of prevenient grace (divine grace that precedes human decision) in his life and how God protected him as he caroused from town to town like the biblical Prodigal Son. Though he may not have realized it then, God's people were always there to help. Like the time he hitchhiked in Colorado, expecting to spend another freezing night outside, but an 85–year–old woman picked him up and said God had told her to stop. “I see God’s fingerprints all over my life when I couldn’t before. I look back now, and I see that God has been with me the entire time.”

What makes the ARC program so successful? "The people who are involved don’t do it as a job or profession or a source of income. Major Brian Thomas believes his whole purpose in life is to serve God and this is the way the Lord has called him to do it. I see his concern for other people. It’s evident that he cares, and his grace is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You can just feel something when you come here, and you can see God once your eyes are clear and they’re open. You can see God in all kinds of situations here. It’s unbelievable."


Volume 7 Number 4, 2021


The joy of



This Christmas, lean into the holiday spirit by shopping for gifts at your local Salvation Army thrift store. All proceeds from the sale of these used and sometimes brand new items fund the Adult Rehabilitation Centers run by The Salvation Army, also known as ARCs. Visit one of our stores and make this Christmas a ‘Merry Thriftmas!’


tips for buying great secondhand Christmas gifts: 1. Seek unused items or those in their original packaging. 2. B uy things people expect to be old, such as vinyl records, books, collectibles, and classic toys. 3. G o for seasonal items. Find that “ugly sweater” for your holiday party or a fun gag gift. 4. C onsider fit and comfort when purchasing clothing. Clean, iron, and fold items before gifting and they’ll look like new. 5. Always freshen up your purchases with a new box and gift wrapping.

All of the items you see here were purchased at a Salvation Army thrift store and range in price from $1.99 to $8.99.

To find a store near you, go to:





Grateful, Thankful, Blessed by JOANNA POLAREK

Blessed are those whose help comes from the God of Jacob, whose hope is centered in the Eternal their God. —PSALM 146:5 (VOICE)

The inspirational quote, “Grateful, Thankful, Blessed,” can be found as wall art, and embroidered on dish towels, coffee cups, T–shirts, and notebook covers. It is a sweet and catchy reminder that we can show gratitude to people and receive it from others. Unfortunately, as we enter the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we may begin to feel the stirrings of our commitment to do too many holiday activities; we scramble to find the perfect gift, and spend what feels like endless hours in the kitchen. So, how can we continue to feel grateful, thankful, and blessed during this season? Do you believe these words hold true during all seasons of your life? The words grateful and thankful are often used hand–in–hand. Pastor Tim Keller once said, “It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” For example, someone gives you a gift. You are grateful for that person in your life, thankful for the present, and blessed because God has moved this person to care about you. The Scripture is rich with ways to live grateful, thankful, and blessed lives. The message of Christ is that He loves us so much, He came to earth to die for our sins. He paid the ultimate price so that we could ultimately live. In return for Him taking our sin, we are to share this good news with others, and we are to love them. Rejoice in knowing that people can be forgiven and be given this gift from Jesus, if they genuinely want it. During this holiday season, we can be reminded that we have already received the greatest gift—the gift of Jesus Christ. We can turn to our loved ones and be present with them, which allows us to be grateful, thankful, and blessed.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. — COLOSSIANS 3:16 (NLT)

Volume 7 Number 4, 2021

Here are some family–friendly tips to bring you back to being grateful, thankful, and blessed during this holiday season: Ask during a family meal: › What are you grateful for today? › Who are you grateful for? › What food are you grateful for? › Is there a place you are grateful for? Daily reminders › On a sheet of paper, begin a daily list of what you are thankful for during the day. Remember, blessings show up in all sizes. Pay attention to the little details in your day. At the end of the day, give thanks to God for providing these blessings. › Download a gratitude calendar for the month. There are many free printables available on Pinterest.

“ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” — PSALM 126:3

Take a moment and share your thoughts.

I am grateful for …

Create a Family Blessing Tree › Pinterest has many free printables or create your own. For example, on a sheet of paper, create a tree with many branches. On each branch, add the name of a family member. Be as creative as you like. Say a prayer for each family member as you add them to your tree. Read Scripture together › The Christmas Story, found in Luke 2, is a beautiful story of how the most extraordinary gift ever given was Jesus, who came into the world. How can you be thankful for this story? Be blessed by the promises. › Luke 17: 11–19 is a parable told by Jesus about the healing of ten people who are afflicted by leprosy, but only one returns to give thanks. There is a message about being thankful in this story.



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We’ve all heard people talk about being stressed out and most of us acknowledge feeling that way from time to time. Up to a point, stress is a normal part of life. But when stress becomes chronic, it can contribute to and even cause a host of health problems. In some situations, stress can be an appropriate and even lifesaving response to events, according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH). For example, if you are faced with a car accident up ahead and have to quickly swerve to miss it, your body releases chemicals and hormones causing your pulse to quicken. You breathe faster, your muscles tense, and your blood pressure also goes up. Your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity, so you react as fast as possible, with every part of your being aimed at survival. In less dramatic situations, such as being called upon to present a speech, you can also feel stress reactions, such as a faster heartbeat as your body releases hormones to heighten your attention. This normal stress response in a social or work situation typically passes quickly. In the short term, being in a stressful situation can even boost your immune system, the NIMH notes. However, when you experience chronic stress from ongoing personal, work or health problems, your body’s stress response continues pumping out chemicals that can dampen your immune response and make you more susceptible to colds and other infections. Over time, if you don’t find a way to lower or cope with excessive stress in your life, you may experience a host of other stress-related physical and emotional problems. It’s important to recognize common stress symptoms so you can find ways to manage them. Chronic stress impacts your body, your behavior, and your emotions. Too much stress can be a factor in weight gain, and studies have shown people with unchecked stress are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 Diabetes. In fact, about 70 percent of doctor visits and 80 percent of serious illnesses may be exacerbated by or linked to stress.

LIVING HEALTH DY O B O UR Y R D FO A B nd IS (a ind) U T IT O B m DO A O T HAT W D AN COMMON PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF CHRONIC STRESS: • Headaches • Muscle aches and pains • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep • Changes in sex drive • Fatigue • Upset stomach • Chest pain (Never assume this is just stress. Have it checked by your health care provider.)

COMMON EFFECTS OF STRESS ON BEHAVIOR AND MOOD: • Anxiety and feeling restless • Feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus • Being quick to anger • Depression • Overeating • Withdrawing from friends and social events • Exercising less often • Abusing alcohol or drugs

The good news Learning to access what Herbert Benson, MD, professor of mind body medicine at Harvard Medical School, calls the “relaxation response” has been shown in multiple studies to reduce physical and emotional symptoms related to chronic stress. A recent study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute for Technology Assessment and the Benson–Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine found that participants in a relaxation-response training program, who learned to use meditation and yoga, took far fewer trips to their health care providers for medical problems in the year following their training than in the preceding 12 months.

TIPS FROM THE NIMH TO HELP YOU REDUCE OR PREVENT THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC STRESS: • Exercise regularly. Research shows just 30 minutes per day of gentle walking can help boost mood and reduce stress. • Schedule regular times for healthy and relaxing activities. Read a book, watch a movie or take time out for a hobby to turn down the stress in your life. • Explore stress–coping activities. Consider learning meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other proven ways to turn on the relaxation response and turn down stress. • Set priorities and learn when to say “no.” Decide what must be done, what can wait, and learn to turn down tasks and responsibilities if they make you feel overwhelmed. • Take care of your physical and mental health. Talk to a mental health care provider if you are overwhelmed, have suicidal thoughts or are using drugs or alcohol to cope. Contact your health care provider for existing or new health symptoms. • Ask for help. Reach out to friends, family, and community or religious organizations that can provide emotional and other support. The NIHM’s stress fact sheet offers more information about stress and ways to cope when stress is chronic.




Butch Conklin and his daughters Ciara (left) and Caitlin (right) spend the month working with The Salvation Army.



obert “Butch” Conklin’s co–workers know that every December, he takes three weeks off. Conklin, along with his daughters Caitlin and Ciara, spend most of December at The Salvation Army in Middletown, N.Y. They pack food and prepare Angel Tree toys for delivery. They also play Christmas music and wear their favorite holiday sweaters. Major Mary A. Moore, the Salvation Army pastor at Middletown, knows that this family understands the importance of the Army’s mission during Christmas. Fifteen years ago, Conklin was introduced to The Salvation Army through a partnership with his job at Frontier Communications, where he works as a foreman. In awe of the Army’s ministry, he continued to volunteer on his own time. “I did community service in my own church, but I really liked the no–nonsense approach that Majors Paula and Donald Spencer, the corps officers at the time, had towards ministry,” says Conklin. “It amazed me to see the books that corps officers handle, how they keep track of what each family needs, and how they’re going to get it for them.” “When someone makes a donation, they don’t see the work that goes on behind the scenes or how officers work to provide for a family that comes in looking for food or a winter coat,” says Conklin. Conklin also brought his daughters Caitlin and Ciara to help. Caitlin remembers, “It was definitely new to us; no one in our school did any volunteering.” But just like their father, the girls found joy in giving their time to Middletown. They even recruited their friends to join them, a skill they inherited from their dad. Caitlin says he cannot stop singing the praises of The Salvation Army, even while out with his friends. “My father is turning others into better people by showing them the spirit of volunteering,” says Caitlin. Conklin says that it’s even surprising to him how eager his friends are to be a part of the ministry. “These are people who I’ve known for years and who are still the hardest workers or retired.


You might not think they are the first ones to give their time. But they’re the ones happily carrying packages and food to homes a mile away. For example, a friend named Bobby King has been here every step of the way with us. Christmas time at The Salvation Army has made Bobby a huge part of our family.” Caitlin says, “My father's friends see that volunteering for the Army lets them see the fruits of their labor. Here, they meet the people who they’re helping. It’s a beautiful experience to see the joy on children’s faces when they pick up a dollhouse or a bike, or when a mother gets a car seat for her baby. Those are moments that keep me coming back.” Conklin’s youngest daughter Ciara says, “When we started volunteering as kids, I didn’t think too much into it; volunteering was just something that we did as a family. But when I look back, I realize that it has shaped my sister and me into the people who we are today.” The sisters' time with The Salvation Army was a precursor to their own careers. Caitlin works for the Ronald McDonald House New York and manages 8,000 annual volunteers. Ciara studied sports management in school, but now is pursuing her Masters to become a special education teacher. She currently works as a crisis intervention worker for kids with Special Needs; meeting the families and children of the Middletown Corps influenced her career change. During the COVID–19 lockdowns, Ciara donated food and other essentials and worked with staff members at her school to deliver it to families in need. “You’ve never really lived until you do something for someone who can never repay you. That is a staple of being part of The Salvation Army,” says Ciara. Conklin says, “Every year, I look forward to the December day when Major Moore calls me and says, ‘The food is in the gym; come do your magic.’” “Our Christmas is The Salvation Army,” says Caitlin. Ciara agrees. “We don’t ask each other what gifts we want or what are we cooking for Christmas dinner. We ask, ‘On what days does The Salvation Army need us?”

Volume 7 Number 4, 2021



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Pathway of Hope uses a client-centered case management approach to empower families and address barriers preventing them from becoming more self-sufficient. By breaking the cycle of crisis with our community partners, it offers a hand up instead of a handout, enabling a path out of poverty.



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