November 1, 2010 Volume 24, Number 13
SPOTLIGHT ON MISSION
Restored dignity fights poverty
Salvation Army strives to give voice to the marginalized
By Renee Joette Friesen | Special to ChristianWeek
The Salvation Army in Canada is launching The Dignity Project to help raise awareness about Canada's marginalized. COURTESY THE SALVATION ARMY
WINNIPEGThe Salvation Army's donation kettles will be out on street corners and in shopping malls this Christmas season, but the annual charitable campaign will have a new underlying messageto restore hope and dignity.
"Poverty is the root cause that takes away dignity," says Andrew Burditt, national public relations director. "People who are struggling often have to make a choice between eating a healthy meal and paying utilities."
According to the standards set by Statistics Canada, one in 11 people live in poverty, Burditt says. "We want to focus the public's attention so that we can restore hope and dignity among the poor."
"It's not just about giving people what they need; it's helping them help themselves."
The Salvation Army is an international organization driven by Christ's command to "love thy neighbour." It helps hundreds of thousands of Canadians each year.
The Salvation Army has reached out to the poor and marginalized for the past 128 years. It provides people with food, shelter, drug rehabilitation, employment skills, computer training and other services.
It also provides camps for kids and it recently opened a 10-bed shelter in Vancouver for women being rescued from sexual human trafficking.
"The programs we run are designed to serve the person as a whole," Burditt says, adding The Salvation Army strives to not just feed the hungry, but to provide a setting where people can sit down at a table and experience sharing a meal with peers, counselors and others.
"In society we can take for granted the impact of the family meal," Burditt says, adding part of restoring dignity is making the meal experience available to the poor.
The concept of dignity will be introduced during the Christmas kettle campaign and will lead up to the official launch of the Dignity Project in early 2011a movement to encourage Canadians to educate themselves about the marginalized.
The Salvation Army will tell the stories of people who struggle with poverty to show Canadians what it means to live without dignity.
Community events will also be held across the nation. Sleep in the park events, vigils for the poor and blanket giveaways are among the projects being planned to kick off the three-year Dignity Project.
With the effects of the global economic recession still being felt, more people are relying on social services like The Salvation Army to meet their basic human needs and to find some sense of dignity.
The Salvation Army is now the largest non-governmental provider of social services in Canada, yet with only 12 to 14 per cent of funds raised covering administration costs, the majority of the work is done voluntarily.
"Support for charitable giving is important, but more important is that people get involved," Burditt says of volunteering.
For more information about The Salvation Army, visit salvationarmy.ca.