Men's Breakfast Report, November 2009


The Men’s Breakfast Group met with Mario and Luna Maldonado, Captains of the local Salvation Army station.  Mario was born in Mexico but had one American parent.  He was educated in Mexico to high school and then came to McAllen where he spent another year in high school improving his English.  He met his wife, Lois, in McAllen and later they went to the Salvation Army Academy in Atlanta where they spent two years and were commissioned as Lieutenants in the Salvation Army.  They spent several years at various stations, primarily in Texas, before being sent here.

The local Salvation Army post offers several services.  The most widely known is the shelter.  Traditionally, the shelter has primarily served homeless men.  The post has had a policy that they can stay only three nights and then thy must move on.  If the client has problems with drugs or alcohol and wants to quit his addiction, he can be enrolled in a Salvation Army program in Houston that takes a year to complete.

Recently, because of the bad economy, there have been several homeless families that have come to the shelter.  These have been allowed to stay for a longer period of time and have been helped to get back on their feet.  Usually this involves getting them an apartment and providing them with furniture from the thrift store.  The Army then provides follow-up to make sure they are able to continue being self-supporting.  Most churches in the area refer requests for assistance to Salvation Army because they are unable to properly evaluate them.  Unfortunately, many churches do not realize that they therefore should make contributions to the Army in lieu of assisting the needy.  Mario hopes to meet with several local churches to rectify the situation. 

The Army also provides emergency rent and utility assistance.  The Army has a social worker to investigate these requests to separate the needy from the greedy. 

The thrift store is a facility that everyone, not just the destitute, can use, either to buy low-priced merchandise or to responsibly dispose of no-longer-needed items.  The profits of the thrift store go to support activities of the post. 

A major service of the Army is their daycare center.  The center provides daycare at reduced rates to families that can not afford normal rates because the single mother does not earn enough to pay the full rate or is going to school.  The daycare pays the going rate for wages and pays health benefits, which makes for high expenses. 

The Salvation Army post is the only one in Brazoria County and is supposed to serve all of the county.  When it was set up, the population was concentrated in the Brazosport area.  The center of population is moving to the north end of the county in the Pearland area.  The post may try to eventually set up a satellite post in the northern part of the county.  Now they are trying to get donations from the Pearland area and are getting cooperation from some of the stores, such as Walmart.  A unique aspect of the Kettle program in Brazosport is that the Kettles are attended only by volunteers.  This reduces expenses and increases donations over Kettles staffed by paid workers.  To get enough volunteers it is important to start the program with high status volunteers such as mayors and prominent business executives.  This may be difficult in the Pearland area because the northern part of the county is focused on Houston rather than on its own communities. 

One of the ways the post gets volunteers is with a large board of directors.  Mario made a strong push to get Robert Perryman, one of the guests, to join the board.  The directors are responsible for guidance at the post and fundraising.  Directors are responsible for various kettles and try to get volunteers for their kettles. They try to get churches and other organizations to take a day and provide volunteers for the day.  Our church will try to organize a kettle day but the small able bodied membership may make this difficult. Individuals can call the post and volunteer and be assigned a kettle for a two hour stretch at a location convenient to them. 

As usual, the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next breakfast will be December 12 with Abel Garcia as featured guest..