“Because it was a one-man show, I had all the Salvation Army requests go through Seekhaven,” Kingsley said. “I just basically ended up doing fundraising and writing checks. But when the homeless issue really mushroomed, it was just more than I could handle.”
Kingsley said he asked Beeson and Melnicoff to take over the operation and they agreed.
“The SA did not have someone who was coordinating with Joe. That is one of the main differences now. We have a person from the organization assisting us,” Beeson said. “She has told us what they expect and how to run the unit. This is an extension unit, and we have the benefit of the Denver branch providing funds, and people have been giving us donations, as well.”
Kingsley said he typically raised about $10,000 annually, which was matched by the Grand Junction Salvation Army unit and spent in the Moab community to help those in need but he expects Melnicoff and Beeson will raise more money.
Melnicoff said she became involved with the Salvation Army because the work was in line with what she was already doing with Moab Solutions, a non-profit group that does cleanup along the Mill Creek Parkway and other area and provides green job training and shelter for Grand County’s homeless community.
“There are ways the [Salvation Army] can help people that Moab Solutions can’t and vice-versa...” Melnicoff said. “We want to be there when there is someone in need. Some people need more help than others, and we are looking to build up our volunteer list so we can be of more help when need be.”
Beeson’s decision to become involved came after a cold night during the winter.
“I was at home and cranked up the heat and it hit me that people live outside in this weather, and it upset me tremendously,” said Beeson. “I always felt like I didn’t have time... but from working with this association, I say thank you every day for helping me to make better choices.”
With the support of the Denver branch, Melnicoff and Beeson have already helped more than 60 families and individuals in the past six months. That aid includes emergency lodging, picking up prescriptions, and funding transportation costs, doctor’s bills, and food.
They have also helped an elderly woman pay her rent, transported a man to a rehabilitation clinic, and took a man to Grand Junction to replace his social security card so that he could rent an apartment.
The two women are gearing up for holiday season for the Salvation Army bell-ringing campaign at the two grocery stores in town. They are looking for volunteers to help.
“There is so much suffering for many reasons... People don’t want to be in pain and hurting, and we want to help them,” Melnicoff said. “The small service units don’t really have a physical location, but we would like to have a drop-in center where people can take a shower, put their stuff in a locker, get a meal, get green job training, and have an emergency bed when needed.”
Beeson said she is pleased with the support they have received since taking over the Moab branch.
“Law enforcement has really been great. Sheriff White has been amazing, and the Chief of Police is going to volunteer to ring the bell,” Beeson said. “If you think you are too small to change the world, think about the mosquito and what they are capable of. A lot of these people are not going to be mainstreamed and have a job... But they may get a glimmer of hope because someone is treating them like a real person and looking them in the eye...”
The bell-ringing campaign will begin the day after Thanksgiving. For more information about the Moab unit of the Salvation Army, how to donate, or how to volunteer, call Melnicoff at 435-259-0910.
Fundraiser to benefit Moab Salvation Army, other groups
A Soup and Bread fundraiser is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 28, to help three Moab groups fight hunger, homelessness and substance abuse in the local community.
Money raised during the event from 12:30 to 5 p.m. will benefit the Salvation Army, Moab Solutions’ emergency shelter fund, and the Sunday meals program at First Baptist Church, 420 MiVida Drive, where the fundraiser will be held. Participants will get homemade soup, bread and desserts for $5.
Sara Melnicoff of Moab Solutions said it’s particularly effective when three organizations come together to help those in need.
“We feel the community is stronger when we work together, no matter our differences, to address the serious issues of addiction, homelessness, and good mental health,” she said. “We know that the Soup and Bread fundraiser will help us help many.”
Although drug addiction and alcoholism are not pleasant subjects, Melnicoff said, those problems touch many lives in our community.
“No child says they want to be a drug addict or alcoholic when they grow up, yet it happens,” she said. “The Salvation Army, Moab Solutions, and the Open Hands Fellowship at the First Baptist Church are trying to create an environment that helps these addicts decide to help themselves.”
Pastor Rick Finney of First Baptist Church said this is the first public fundraising effort the church has made, although it has offered meals to the hungry for the past year. Funding has come from donations by church members and others, he said.
“We have quite a population of needy and homeless people,” Pastor Finney said. “There is also quite a prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse.”
Because Moab is a tourist town, he said, many of the businesses are seasonal and some employees have a difficult time making it through the winter. The fundraiser is an attempt to help solve that problem.
For more information, call 435-259-0910.