ASHEBORO — Local Salvation Army leaders are asking for financial donations to provide food and emergency services to needy persons and families in Richmond, Randolph and Montgomery counties.
Maj. Luis Viera, and his wife, Maj. Lucy Viera, who hail originally from Puerto Rico, have been with the local Salvation Army unit since late January. They have 25 years of experience working with the Salvation Army Corps in El Paso, Texas., Gainesville, Georgia, Aiken, South Carolina, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Port Richey, Florida and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their move from El Paso to Asheboro was their 14th move with the Salvation Army.
The Vieras, who are both educators and pastors, replaced Capt. Kevin Justice, and his wife, Capt. Wendy Justice.
The Vieras got word from the Salvation Army headquarters in December 2016 and were on the job, in Asheboro, on Jan. 26 of this year. They were moving to an operation that was in financial crisis. Their charge was to make a radical improvement in the Randolph County unit and its ability to provide local services.
Since, they have been working to rebuild relationships with other service agencies, such as the United Way in Randolph and Richmond counties, area churches, social services offices, area schools, local government and organizations which provide educational, wellness and feeding programs.
They have also been working on the local organization with staffing and procedural changes, the addition of more volunteers and the expansion of church services for people who speak Spanish.
The Vieras hope to see the establishment of several endowments to secure long-term operations of the local unit.
“All the programs are dependent upon financial contributions,” Luis Viera said. “We need donations now to help us through our busy summer season. Few grants were secured last year which would help us this year, so we have had to turn away up to 20 people a day who are in need.“
Many of those requests have been from Richmond County residents seeking emergency assistance with utility and rent bills.
The Salvation Army Family Thrift Store, located at the corner of Dixie Drive and Zoo Parkway, is only one operation of the local service unit. The other two components are the church and the emergency and food services which are provided to persons in need.
The church and the corporate office, where emergency and food services are handled, is located at 345 N. Church Street, behind Randolph Hospital, in Asheboro.
The Salvation Army works in partnership with the United Way in Randolph and Richmond counties. It opened its doors in 1971 and has expanded throughout the years.
The majors have a list of goals they would like to see accomplished before they are transferred to another location in the next few years.
That is the way the Salvation Army operates, placing officers in a location for 3-4 years and then moving them to another location.
The first goal is to see a stronger working relationship with other agencies to help those in need.
In 2016, the Salvation Army assisted 15,928 people in Randolph, Richmond and Montgomery counties with food, rent or mortgage bills, utilities and emergency services.
The Salvation Army receives daily donations of fresh food from area grocery stores, which is then given to clients daily.
Those seeking financial assistance provide documentation to Salvation Army staff who review their individual situations to determine their eligibility.
Financial emergencies occur when unexpected expenditures use funds slated for rent or utilities.
The second goal is to create an emergency family housing facility. The goal would be to provide a temporary home while family members overcome immediate barriers, such as a job loss.
“We want to provide immediate, emergency housing to families to help them with daily living, health issues and job training in a transitional setting for people who are evicted, are moving here, have had to leave their home for various reasons and have no place to live,” said Viera. “Currently, homeless families are being sent to Durham. We need to help them here.”
A definition of homeless includes those who are living in tents, under trees and overpasses, out of their cars and those who are transient, doubling up with friends and relatives. Those individuals are counted as they have no permanent address.
The number fluctuates and statistics vary and the definitions of homeless individuals change, depending upon the reporting agency.
Nationally, a point-in-time count is made annually of homeless individuals. The count is made one day a year.
The Vieras operated family transitional housing centers in several of their past posts and their resume includes administering senior programs, soup kitchens, social services, boys and girls clubs, community youth centers, day care centers and after-school programs.
For information about donations to the store, call 336-328-0891. For information about contributions or to volunteer, call 336-625-0551.