When Tri-Cities resident Virginia Rodefer placed her hands on the doors of the Salvation Army, she didn’t know what to expect. She ended up going with her gut feeling and walked inside.
Rodefer, a mother of three, came to the Tri-Cities looking for help. She had no place to go for herself or her children.
“I was scared at first because I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I decided to go with what my instincts told me and have never looked back.”
At the time when Rodefer came to the Salvation Army, she was pregnant. With no transportation, staff members made sure she was at all of her prenatal appointments and assisted with getting her other kids in daycare. Not only did the organization help with shelter and food, they gave Christmas presents to her children, and organized a baby shower during her pregnancy.
Since finding the Salvation Army, Rodefer says their kind generosity and willingness to help people has made her a better person.
“I’m so grateful for what the Salvation Army has done for me,” she said quietly. “I’ve even started going to church, it’s really made an impact on my life.
The Salvation Army is just one of nearly 30 nonprofit agencies around the Tri-Cities region that receive support from the United Way of Bristol. The local chapter is currently in the middle of its annual fundraising campaign, an effort to raise $1.4 million to support agencies like the Salvation Army.
The campaign to raise the funds is still ongoing as the funding goals have not yet been met.
Since being founded in 1865 and currently operating in 126 countries, the organization makes it a priority to make assistance available for people in need.
“Being able to help a family like Virginia’s with food and shelter is most fulfilling,” said Salvation Army Captain Joseph Irvin.
The shelter sees about 25 people a night and serves about 150 meals a day in its soup kitchen. Irvin said in his time as an officer for the Salvation Army, he’s met a lot of inspirational people.
“Being a part of someone’s journey and finding them a permanent home is really nice, as well as seeing new life come into not only Virginia’s family, but the Army’s family as well.”
While Rodefer was scared in the beginning, she feels like there are good people in the world. She says she wouldn’t be in the place she’s at now if it wasn’t for the Salvation Army.
“They’ve done so much for me and my family,” she said. “Even though the staff isn’t a part of my immediate family, I consider them to be and for that I’m forever changed and grateful.”
Client: Virginia Rodefer, Tri-Cities resident and mother of three
Agency that helped: Salvation Army, 137 Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd., Bristol, Tenn.
How it helped: When Rodefer needed help and assistance, the Salvation Army stepped up and provided shelter, food and transportation aid.
What they do: The Salvation Army is a faith-based human services organization that helps families through disasters and provides shelter, clothing and food.
How to help: Learn more about contributions to the United Way of Bristol by calling (423) 968-4912 or visiting: www.unitedwaybristol.org.
Reprinted with permission by: Zach Irby, Bristol Herald Courier (276) 645-2574