Men's Breakfast Report, December 2012

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday,  December 8 with Mario Maldonado, Major in the Salvation Army and director of the Brazoria County Salvation Army Station.  Major Mario brought two other staff members to the breakfast; Barry Brown from Dallas is statewide director of prison ministries and Douglas Raynor from Angleton is the local case worker. 

David Brown started with the Salvation Army in 1998 as a personnel manager, since he was trained in that area.  He later moved on to the prison ministry.  He described the prison system in Texas.  There are 150,000 adults and 30,000 juveniles incarcerated in Texas prisons and many additional people in county jails.  There are also federal prisons and prisons holding aliens awaiting deportation.  The prisons employ about 30,000 guards and other employees.  At Christmas the Army gives a small gift to each prisoner.  The gifts are chosen in consultation with the wardens.  The usual gift is a packet containing soap, shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste.  These items normally have to be bought at the commissary.  The prison provides indigent prisoners with lye soap and tooth powder, not tooth paste.  Therefore, the prisoners appreciate these gifts.  The other gift is a bag of hard candy.  The guards are given candy if the prisoners are given candy.  The Army also supports the prison chaplains by providing them with supplies, which the state does not do.  There is one chaplain for each 2000 prisoners.  The chaplains and the Army also help the guards, since the guard job can be stressful and dysfunctional if taken home. For example, one guard realized that he was treating his children as though they were prisoners.  Davis was in Freeport to help the volunteers package gifts for 2000 local prisoners.  He said that the rationale for the prison program is that although the prisoners were usually not worthy of gifts, we are not worthy of the gift of salvation. 

Douglas Raynor is pastor of the Apostolic Upper Room church in Angleton, in addition to being the case worker for the local Salvation Army.  His job is to determine which of the applicants for assistance is actually deserving; to separate the needy from the greedy.  One of the services the Army provides is emergency rental assistance.  When the Army provides rental assistance, it pays the landlord directly rather than giving the money to the renter.  If a person needs assistance with car repairs, the policy is to have the applicant pay the mechanic, provide a receipt from the mechanic and then pay the landlord so the applicant does not have to pay all the rent.  The question was raised about the balance between long term dependents and people in need because of the recession.  He said that most people can get jobs in this area.  They may not be able to get the job they want or the salary they think they deserve, but jobs are available. 

Mario then talked about the Army in general.  Since the local post is responsible for the entire county, he has opened a facility in Alvin and is trying to open one in Pearland, where the population is rapidly growing.  The problem is to get volunteers in these areas because the new populations are not yet concerned about their local city.  The Salvation Army gets some money from the United Way but much of the budget is obtained from the kettle campaign. 

Brazoria County is the only Salvation Army post where all its bell ringers are volunteers and not paid.  Mario wants to keep it this way.  Therefore, he needs more volunteers.  The northern part of the county is especially difficult because it is a new community.  There are even difficulties in the southern part of the county.  More stores are requesting bell ringers.  Long time bell ringers are getting older and are not able to ring the bell for two hours.  Anyone who can volunteer is asked to call the Salvation Army to set up a time and location.

The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The nest meeting will be January 12th.