Salvation Army eyes new kind of homeless outreach

Salvation Army eyes new kind of homeless outreach

March 6th, 2011 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

With Isaiah 61.4 as its guide, the Salvation Army 614 Corps is expanding its ReCreate Cafe to include an arts outreach.

The verse, for which the Corps is named, says, "And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many nations.

"It's about renewing and restoring," said Capt. Jon-Phil Winter, who heads the Corps.

The concept, still in development, kicked off recently with a concert at the McCallie Avenue venue by singer/songwriter Andrew Osenga. A portion of the ticket sales went to create a start-up fund for the new ministry.

"This is reaching out in a different way," said Tenika Dye, a Salvation Army volunteer. "We want to have artists willing to come in and erase those lines between the homeless community and the rest of us."

The space, according to the Corps' officer, was originally used by the Salvation Army's Citadel Corps before it moved to North Moore Road.

It was the idea of Maj. Jim Lawrence, area commander, to use the space "with the marginalized" of society, Winter said.

After the space was renovated, a cafe was initially created, he said. But when funds weren't available for a family shelter, "we needed to make sure some programs" were added, he said.

"We wanted to somehow incorporate the arts [but to] really expand that vision into something broader and more inclusive," said Winter, who has a theater and drama background.

He met Dye when she brought the "Behold the Lamb of God" musical she was involved with to Corps 614 in January.

Together, they conceived of a program where homeless people would freely mix with other artists who need a home or can't afford to rent a space.

"Capt. Winter wants arts going on there all the time," Dye said. "He felt like more things could happen there."

The space is ideal, she said. "It's nice and open. There is wall space [for visual art]. Chairs and tables can be moved, and it has a decent-sized stage [for performance arts]."

The idea is that arts are for everybody, she said. Too many people perceive the homeless as "drunks or druggies" or otherwise "have a negative connotation toward them," she said.

The ministry had its origin when the Salvation Army area commander Maj. Jim Lawrence suggested "Beyond the Lamb of God," a Christmas musical adapted for the stage and directed by Dye, be performed at Corps 614.

"We know it's going to grow organically and [through] grassroots," said Dye, who is the unofficial event coordinator for the ministry.

"It's a perfect fit. The Salvation Army in its history has been open to the arts. They're committed to helping those in need whatever way they can."