We promote the dignity of all persons.
The Salvation Army believes that everyone is deserving of respect. It’s upholding the dignity of all persons, no matter who they are or where they came from. It is foundational to all aspects of our organizational life.
In Action – Respect
Everybody deserves to feel worthy and is worthy of the help that’s out there,” says Eugene Schertzberg. Or as Aretha Franklin challenged: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me”
Eugene was one of more than 80 clients of The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre who attended the second annual Project Self-Esteem event this past November, part of its life-skills program. The program focuses on building self-confidence and job readiness by offering free haircuts, beard trims, a professional photo shoot, and education and employment information from local agencies.
“It does make me feel better if I don’t have hair growing down to my shoulders,” continues Eugene. “Self-esteem is about how I look at myself and how I present myself to others. If I don’t have any self-esteem, I don’t want to be involved in anything.”
The 49-year-old father of three had two successful careers, one in the commercial-hardware business and the other in computers. But he found himself facing mental-health issues, including depression and anxiety. That, combined with alcoholism, kept him from being able to maintain stable employment, and it wasn’t long before he had to leave his home. With nowhere to go, he reached out for assistance at the Booth Centre, where he found a home and support.
“I was on uneven footing; I wasn’t sure what to do,” he says. “I had some previous experience with rehabilitation and addiction programs but I found there was always a component at the end that was not being dealt with—that being mental health.”
Eugene was encouraged to get involved in the life-skills program, which was developed by co-ordinator Kimberly Zapata in August 2013. Kim, along with activity assistant Drew Corley, helps men make positive changes in their lives.
The life-skills program requires each participant to complete 16 lessons, which include building a positive image, conversation skills, forgiveness, stress and anger management, decision-making and goal-setting.
“I’m working with the life-skills program and it’s giving me time to put things in order, such as looking for a place to live and setting weekly goals,” says Eugene. “They’ve been very helpful.
“As for Kim and Drew, while their youth can be deceiving, it turns out they both have a lot of understanding of the people that come to the program. They’ve even engaged us with outings on Saturdays. Recently, we went to the agricultural museum and to the harvest festival downtown. It’s great and refreshing.”
For Eugene, his immediate goals include continuing to deal with mental-health issues, finding housing and completing the life-skills program before attempting to re-enter the workforce.
“Difficult as it may be for me to be in a situation like this, I know I am not alone—The Salvation Army is here to help me,” he says.
The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre provides assistance to every person that walks through the door with respect and integrity. Members of staff meet and accept each client where they are at and help them discover and achieve their goals.
As it is for so many people in times of crisis, sharing his story wasn’t easy, but Eugene felt compelled to tell it.
“I recognize that in society there are those who persecute and then there are those who assist people in need,” he says. “As a recipient of the caring that I couldn’t find in my everyday life, I need to share how important it is to me to be able to express the need for salvation in my spirit and mind. There is so much to say.”
Reprinted from Faith and Friends, February 2015
Caroline Franks is the Public Relations Specialist at The Salvation Army in Ottawa. Prior to joining The Salvation Army in 2011, Caroline spent 8 years working as a radio broadcast news reporter and anchor.
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A Glimpse From the Past – Respect
On the required reading for social work programs around the world is William Booth’s In Darkest England and the Way Out. Published in 1890, it flew off the bookstands and is still influential today in Britain’s approach to social welfare. At the root of Booth’s proposition is the premise of respect – affording dignity to all people, no matter what their situation. This article from the 2015 Spring/Summer issue of Develop, the UK Salvation Army`s International Development newsletter, is a great primer on this significant time in our history.
TACKLING POVERTY AND INJUSTICE SINCE 1865
Many things have changed in the 150 years since The Salvation Army began its work, as General John Gowans put it, to ‘save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity’. Here Carl Jobson looks back at the legacy and how it continues to shape our work today.
The Salvation Army’s early mission and ministry was characterised by a truth that is rooted in the Bible: that God is for the poor. William Booth, who with his wife Catherine founded the organisation that became The Salvation Army, started their ministry by preaching the gospel to those that were not being reached by the conventional churches. However, over time it became apparent that words were not enough. Booth realised that social reform was also needed in order to see the transformation that God had called him to bring about.
The early Salvation Army was characterised not just by ministering to the poor, giving hand-outs at arm’s length, but also by building relationships. In that way, ‘desperate, unemployed prostituted persons, criminals and alcoholics morphed into foot soldiers in God’s revolutionary response to the problems of Victorian England’. In the areas of the East End of London where The Salvation Army began, nearly 40 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line. However, they weren’t just suffering from a material poverty, but a poverty of being (or a lack of self-worth) as a result of being looked down upon by the rest of society. They were feared, abandoned and judged by most, but not by The Salvation Army. The Army sought not only to help, but also to welcome them into their community. This meant The Salvation Army was best placed to reach out to communities, because so many early-day Salvationists were from these places in the first place. This is echoed in most of our community development work around the world today. Our projects are either run out of a local Salvation Army corps (church), or are an extension of the relationships already built by them in the community. It is a natural overflow of our ministry in these places, and the projects are stronger for it. This is because these relationships can continue even when the specific intervention of the project has ended and its objectives are achieved.
In 1890 Booth published his social manifesto for the world, In Darkest England and the Way Out. Booth was writing about a completely different context (19th-century Victorian life in the UK) from the backdrop of our community development work in this globalised 21st-century world. Booth, after all, was a General who communicated by telegram, not tweets. Much has changed since then. Some of the ideas he put forward are now outdated, yet our work remains true to many of the principles that he outlined. The overwhelming thing that shines through the text is that it is people-focused. There is a recognition that transformation cannot be applied to people, but needs to involve and affect them. In all of our development projects we seek to do this – to come alongside people and support them to realise the change that they want to see achieved. Booth also recognised the effect that environment has on a person’s situation, and how this can restrict their opportunity to bring about change. This is true around the world. After all, very few people are living in extreme poverty because of their own actions. Rather it is a result of where they happen to be born, and the environmental, political, social and economic factors that exist. Some of these are natural, but most are manmade. It’s easy sometimes to blame the poor for being poor, but more often than not it is not of their doing. Rather it is due to how they and their ancestors have been exploited or subjugated by others in pursuit of their own wealth.
This belief in the intrinsic worth of a person, regardless of the position they find themselves in (whether they are at fault or not), is something further reinforced by Booth’s thoughts of responding with dignity:
‘The indirect features of the Scheme must not be such as to produce injury to the persons whom we seek to benefit. Mere charity, for instance, while relieving the pinch of hunger, demoralises the recipient; and whatever the remedy is that we employ, it must be of such a nature as to do good without doing evil at the same time. It is no use conferring sixpennyworth of benefit on a man if, at the same time, we do him a shilling’sworth of harm.’
I’ve written previously within these pages of the importance of ensuring that any assistance we provide is done in a way that helps without hurting. Here Booth recognises this need to respond in a careful and considered way. We recognise this too. Through our work we need to ensure dignity is maintained and address the real problem, not just the symptoms. 150 years later, dignity is central to the vision of our team, and all the change that we seek to help bring about.
There’s much more that could be said about the legacy of Booth and his early Army of transformers, but the important thing is that this legacy lives on. This broad and diverse movement called The Salvation Army continues to respond to injustice and build relationships with what the world would still view as ‘the last, the lost and the least’ across 126 countries. In Booth’s words, may each of us continue to ‘go and do something’ about the injustices that exist in this world – with our money, our time and our voice.
 REVOLUTION, by Aaron White and Stephen Court p71
 REVOLUTION, by Aaron White and Stephen Court p72
 In Darkest England and the Way Out, by General William Booth
 See DEVELOP Autumn/Winter 2013 – http://issuu.com/saiduk/docs/develop_aw2013_web
Carl Jobson is the Information & Resources Officer for The Salvation Army International Development (UK). He is a family man, justice seeker & a lover of movies and music. He lives in London.
Click here for a printable copy of A Glimpse From the Past- Respect
Faith & Life – Respect
WHAT ABOUT US GRILS?
In New York City, the subway is a popular place for artistic expression. Graffiti can be found on walls and even on the trains themselves.
On one wall, someone had painted a picture of a man and a woman facing each other. A while later, another artist came along and put a speech bubble over the man’s head. It read “I love girls”, or at least that’s what the artist intended. But he’d made a spelling error and instead of ‘girls’ he had written ‘grils’. Not too long after that, another graffiti artist wrote on top of the bubble “It’s not grils, dummy, it’s girls. I love girls.” Soon another illustrator joined the conversation and wrote “But what about us grils?”
Cindy was 16 years old and lived in the shadow of her friend Samantha. Sam was gorgeous – long blonde hair, nice body, beautiful eyes – and all the boys liked her. Cindy had acne, she was overweight and her teeth were crooked. Time after time her friend would get invited out to dates and parties but Cindy never did. When prom night came, Cindy was at home, staring out the window, with tears streaming down her face. Her question was, “What about us grils?”
To write an article on respect, one has to write about grils.
Respect is easily given to the beautiful people, those who play by the rules, or those who we like and admire. However when the issue of respect is in jeopardy it is most often in reference to grils.
How do we engage those we don’t like? How do we treat the marginalized?
I work as a chaplain in prisons. I see grils every day and in my environment the issue of respect or lack thereof is everywhere.
At the heart of much criminal activity and offences is the issue of respect, or disrespect. To commit a crime and hurt another is an act of disrespect. To arrest an individual and manhandle him by using excessive force is disrespect. To stand before a judge knowing you are guilty and plead innocent is disrespect. To incarcerate a person and treat them like an animal is disrespect. When we do not take into account the victims’ needs and the trauma they endure, that is disrespectful.
Prison is a violent place and much of that violence comes when a person is feeling “dissed”,” or disrespected. To be disrespected is to be dehumanized, to be made to feel worthless. Nothing enrages a person more than this.
In my work as a prison chaplain I see men like Philip, who was arrested for break and entry. When my fellow citizens read the news about his incarceration, the normal response is almost always the same. “Proper thing – throw away the key. Teach the idiot a lesson.”
I have to admit, at one point I felt the same. Then I met men like Philip. I heard their story of abuse and neglect. I hear about parents who were addicts, drunkards, violent or absent. I hear of a child having no reference point for values, no guidance other than, “Don’t’ trust anyone.” I see a young man whose mentors taught him by word or action that you control people with violence, that self-preseveration is the highest virtue, and everyone else be dammed.
When you don’t know their story, it is easy to write off Philip and his kind as a nuisance and not worthy of respect.
Would it help to know that his father beat him since he was three, or that his mother was mentally ill and never cared for him properly? Did you know that he went to school hungry most days or that if he opened a book at home his father would tell him he was a sissy for reading? Would you feel a little more empathy and respect for him if you knew that at six years old he was forced to go to school with a back pack full of drugs to exchange for an identical back pack full of money from another six year old?
I have found that most of my clients deemed brutal by the media were first brutalized by the people entrusted to love them.
So what about those grils? Do they deserve respect?
Let’s let one with more authority answer that: “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters [GRILS] of mine, you have done it for me.’” (Matt 25: 40)
Kevin Hoddinott is a chaplain for The Salvation Army’s Correctional & Justice Services in Newfoundland.
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