OSWEGO, NY – During a cold Sunday this past winter, a police officer stopped at the Oswego Salvation Army as captains Kenneth and Corrine Hayes were leaving to visit a local nursing home.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHe said SmithÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Hotel was closing,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Capt. Kenneth Hayes said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAbout 15 people were being put out onto the street.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The captains made their nursing home visit and sprang into action to find emergency shelter for the residents of the hotel.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt was a Sunday,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Capt. Hayes recalls. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œEvery other agency was closed. But the people were caught between a rock and a hard place. It was very cold and they were without a home.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The Salvation Army managed to find everyone a room in a hotel that night. The next day, they gave people rides to the Department of Social Services to find additional help.
During another severe winter storm, Capt. Hayes tapped the resources of his fellow Oswego Rotary Club members to get meals out to people who couldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be reached by Meals on Wheels drivers.
While it relies on limited funding, the Salvation Army is also able to provide some rent and utility assistance to those in danger of losing their homes.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe money comes in and it is usually gone within a couple of weeks,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Capt. Hayes said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œUnfortunately, there is a huge demand and we are only able to help a small percentage.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
One way or another, they try to help, he said.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe Salvation Army has a very good reputation for providing services,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Vernon Tryon, a member of the Oswego Salvation Army Board of Trustees. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI think that the public has a lot of trust in the Army to get things done and to do the job efficiently.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Tryon said he is regularly impressed by the numbers of people who rely on the Oswego Salvation Army for assistance.
He noted that it also acts as a referral agency.
Tryon said the captains regularly drive people to Syracuse to the ArmyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s facilities there.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is quite an eye opener to see how many people rely on the Salvation Army,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Tryon said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œFor one reason or another, people need this help.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Whether small efforts like providing utility assistance or large needs, such as helping out at the front lines in New York City after Sept. 11, 2001, Capt. Hayes said the Salvation Army is there to help.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe Salvation Army was heavily involved in 9-11,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
The day of the disaster, Army officers were in New York City for a meeting.
They never arrived at the meeting, however. After the planes struck the World Trade Center towers, a canteen was immediately set up near ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œGround Zero.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThey parked within a block of the site and set up the canteen,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Capt. Hayes said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe Army was there until the efforts ended.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Capt. Hayes spent a week in New York City himself helping to feed those at Ground Zero. His wife, Captain Corrine Hayes, spent a week serving in a warehouse that provided supplies to the efforts.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe devastation there was amazing,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe Army was there for about nine months, until the last of the fire department, police department and EMS workers left.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
One of the things that makes the local Army unique to other agencies is its flexibility, Hayes said. Because the Army receives private funding, it is not as restricted as some other assistance agencies sometimes are.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe can be a bit more flexible because we get private donations,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œSome people who may not qualify for assistance under government regulations have come to us for help. We try to give that help when we can and we make sure that we treat individuals with respect.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Above all, Capt. Hayes said that the work he and others do is more than ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œjust doing a job.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe Salvation Army is an agency and a church,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Capt. Hayes said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOur love for God drives us to love others. If there is no place else that people have, they should always feel welcome here.”
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is nice being part of such a large organization,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he added. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t do everything here but I am able to draw on the resources of the Army.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The Oswego Salvation Army is part of the International Salvation Army organization, which is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. The local citadel provides food, education, services and spiritual support to the local community.
The Oswego Salvation ArmyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI BelieveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â campaign will help with renovations and expanded services at the new building, the former New York State Labor Department on West Second Street.
Information on how you can make a donation, or to learn more about the Oswego Salvation Army and progress updates on the new facility visit http://oswegosa.com or call (315) 343-6491.