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God often expects the “impossible” from His servants. Whether it be the call to revive a dying community or the demands to break the cycle of poverty, there is so much good that often seems beyond our reach.
Yet this is where The Salvation Army thrives. We endeavor to push past the barriers of disbelief and embrace faith. That’s why The Salvation Army brings together individuals who take courage in knowing the Lord will make possible that which He has asked us to do.
As we look back at the previous year, we not only recognize these soldiers of service – our neighbors, our donors, ourselves – but we commend the minds and hands that continue to pave the way in recognizing and addressing human need in every way possible. Whether in the providing of a meal or the leading of a friend out of addiction, The Salvation Army understands that all things are possible through God.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
From the community looking for relief to the soul simply looking for a meal, help is most effectively provided by understanding the need itself and where that need is the greatest. In 2015, our passion and drive to understand the needs of our brothers and sisters brought to life the Human Needs Index – a means of gathering and interpreting service-related data from over 7,500 centers in every ZIP code across the nation.
The Salvation Army joined forces with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to harness this information, using it to identify the needs that influence our communities the most. Meals, groceries, housing, furniture, medical, and energy assistance are now all measureable in more efficient and personal ways.
More than 45 million Americans today live in poverty. But the Human Needs Index has provided a powerful tool to combat that poverty – enlightenment. Not only for The Salvation Army but for everyone whose heart burns with a passion for a better tomorrow. This past year has shown us how the Human Needs Index will continue to fuel our passion for the impossible, giving the world hope and guidance by helping us truly understand the needs of God’s children.
That same passion for the impossible also drives us to think of new, creative ways of reaching out to those in need. This year, by using non-traditional advertising, we have reached hundreds of thousands across the nation in new ways, speaking directly to those in need, when and where they are most desperate. Messages on bus shelters, park benches, even public trash cans offered warmth, rest, nourishment, and security, inviting those in need to Salvation Army centers for a place of refuge. These messages inspired a world of hope for those lost to seemingly impossible situations.
When we consider that more than 16 million children in the United States live in poverty, effective change can seem impossible. What’s more alarming is that those children living in poverty for half their lives are 32 times more likely to remain in poverty. It is a destructive cycle that demands to be broken.
This past year, The Salvation Army began an initiative to help individuals and families by shifting focus from the symptoms of poverty to the source of the poverty. The initiative, called Pathway of Hope, provides families with the necessary skills and much-needed resources to not only succeed but to also find faith in themselves. In this way, The Salvation Army continues to lead these individuals out of poverty and toward increased stability and self-sufficiency.
Children also embraced a brighter future through the Pathway of Hope experience, developing a sense of confidence and self-reliance alongside their parents. Yet our faith in their futures did not end here. In partnering with Target and EverFi, The Salvation Army introduced a digital education program in nearly 200 centers across the nation, providing children with the skills they need to succeed in life. As a result, thousands of children participated in after-school programs to learn about computers and develop effective test-taking and social skills.
Every day, these steps bring us closer to effectively breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. In every way, a brighter future seems possible.
A passion for the impossible is more than just a desire to serve. It’s hope for the future. It’s faith in humanity. It’s love for your neighbor. From red kettles and Angel Trees to pathways of hope, The Salvation Army continues our efforts to implement programs that effectively invite donors and ourselves to look past the impossible and embrace the hope that lies beyond. We continue to look forward in faith, ready to facilitate change with a devotion to the Lord’s will, a commitment to service, and an undying passion for the impossible.