Philadelphia Shelter Workers Recognized during National Salvation Army Week
National Salvation Army Week traditionally is a time of awareness for the wide range of services that the faith-based charity provides year-round to individuals and families in need.
But for The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia, the week has taken on a more personal meaning this year – gratitude.
The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia dedicated this year’s National Salvation Army Week to workers of its emergency shelter programs for the way they adapted so quickly to the pandemic and continued services to more than 1,300 shelter residents over the past 15 months. Representatives of the five major housing locations in Philadelphia came together on May 11 at the Red Shield Family Residence and were celebrated by local and divisional leadership for their tireless dedication over the past year.
“Undaunted by the pandemic and taking all of the necessary precautions, you all have helped to provide desperately needed services. We are here to thank you,” said Major Tawny Cowen-Zanders, Divisional Secretary for The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia, at the ceremony May 11.
The workers represented the Red Shield Family Residence, which provides after-hours care and long-term emergency housing to 119 residents; the Eliza Shirley House, which serves 100 residents; the Reed House, which provides permanent supportive housing to 66 homeless individuals with substance use disorders and mental health illnesses; Shelter Plus Care, which offers permanently supportive housing at 26 scattered sites across Philadelphia; and New Day New Home, a transitional residence for survivors of human trafficking.
A total of 75 workers provided services to the vulnerable residents over the last pandemic year. Although face-to-face interactions were limited due to pandemic restrictions, case managers and staff provided 24-7 support to residents via calls and video chats. Services traditionally provided in person, such as empowerment support, case management and counseling, were also provided virtually.
Lt. Col. Larry Ashcraft, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware, said the workers’ impact has been felt throughout Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware and will continue to linger.
“What you have done by your service has made ripples in eternity,” said Lt. Col. Ashcraft. “You have saved generations, whether you know it or not.”
In a symbolic closing of the ceremony, Kelly Devlin, Director of the Red Shield Family Residence and Case Management Supervisor of the Eliza Shirley House, unveiled a mural painted late last year by local artist Donald Scott, depicting residents transitioning from living in the shelters to reintegrating with their communities and returning home. Done in collaboration with Deanna Handy, Youth Services Coordinator for The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia, Scott’s painting represents a light at the end of the tunnel that is the pandemic.
“The painting gives a visible reminder that while our families are welcomed here and are safe here, this is just their one stop on their journey home,” said Devlin.