Men's Breakfast Report, November 2011

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, November 12 with Mario Maldonado, head of the local Salvation Army post.  Mario was recently promoted from Captain to Major in the Salvation Army.  His wife Lola did not make the breakfast since their daughter, who is pregnant with Mario’s first grandchild, was visiting from Dallas.  He also brought along two other people from the Salvation Army; Shadrac Bernbe, a high school student member of his church, and Malie Inoissejean.

Malie is from Haiti.  He and his wife, who he met in a training program in Dallas, are serving in a four-year service program for the Salvation Army.  When he finishes this program and if he decides that he wants to make the Salvation Army his career, he will go to a Salvation Army seminary in Atlanta for two years.  The Army will also pay for further college study if he desires.  Upon graduation he would be commissioned as a lieutenant in the Salvation Army. 

Mario started off the discussion by showing a video recruiting Multipliers for the Kettle Drive.  Brazoria County is the only county in the country that uses all volunteers as bell ringers for the collection kettles.  The post and its advisory board are very proud of this fact and are determined maintain this status.  The collections start after Thanksgiving and go to Christmas Eve, so a large number of volunteers are needed.  The Multipliers are volunteers that recruit bell ringers for a day or longer, reducing the load on the central scheduler.  Many groups, such as churches and civic organizations, volunteer for one or more days at a kettle location, and our church, of course, is being asked to volunteer. 

The Christmas Kettle campaign is a primary fund-raiser for the Army, but other sources of funds are also used.  There are also major donations from citizens in the community, and money is received from the United Way. The thrift store provides some funds but also serves to keep a presence in the community and provide inexpensive goods to people in need. 

The most characteristic service of the Army is the emergency lodge.  This provides lodging for up to three days for people with no housing.  If more help is needed the Army social worker will examine the case and try to set up a permanent solution. Traditionally the lodgers were almost entirely men but that has changed and there are now significant numbers of women and families.  The lodge has rooms for men and women, but is not able to properly care for families with children.  Mario is planning to expand the lodge to provide facilities for families, but this will be expensive.  It was suggested that this could be a mission project that many churches might want to help with.  The New Birth children’s center was largely constructed by volunteers from as far away as California. 

The Army is trying to extend its operation to the northern parts of the county where the population is growing rapidly.  There are satellite facilities in Pearland and Alvin.  The Army is trying to recruit bell ringers from churches in these areas to work the several stores in the area that have agreed to host bell ringers.  This is difficult because the newcomers know little about the Army and are focused on Houston rather than their own neighborhood.  As the population in the northern part of the county grows, it may need to have its own Army post. 

As usual the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next meeting will be Saturday, December 10 with Murphy Rankin, director of ActionS, as featured guest.