The Salvation Army is in process of transitioning support in the Bethel community from its current fulltime Outpost ministry to a more sustainable, community-based Service Unit model. The Army’s Outpost will continue in its current location on Gunderson Street through June 2017.
“The Salvation Army is not leaving Bethel,” said Salvation Army Divisional Commander, Major Mike Dickinson. “We will merely be serving the community in a different way.” A Service Unit operates under The Salvation Army’s Service Extension Program in communities without Salvation Army building-centered programs, directed by a local Salvation Army officer.
The community’s involvement is essential in establishing a Bethel Service Unit,” said Salvation Army Service Extension Director, Jenni Ragland. A Service Unit operates with the support of a local volunteer committee that offers services on behalf of the organization, with support and guidance from its Headquarters office located in Anchorage.
Services offered typically include food assistance or homeless prevention support. While services are still being determined, priority will be to address unmet needs and build local capacity to raise the resources to help meet those needs.
In 2015, The Salvation Army purchased the former Bethel Alternative Boarding School building and has worked to provide practical and spiritual support in Bethel and surrounding communities, including partnering with the Winter House program to provide safe shelter during the cold months.
“In the last year, The Salvation Army Bethel Outpost served 1,263 people.” Said Salvation Army Bethel Outpost Officer Major Loni Upshaw, “It’s a great community, lots of people who want to help. We served 2,547 meals last year and that wouldn’t have been possible without the 57 people who stepped up and volunteered their time.”
The Salvation Army is looking for partners in Bethel to assist with establishing its Service Unit. For more information, contact Jenni Ragland, Service Extension Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Salvation Army Alaska
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, supports those in need in His name without discrimination, offering spiritual encouragement and basic services to meet the needs of Alaskans in 18 communities. The Salvation Army has been caring for mind, body, spirit and soul of individuals, children and families in Alaska since 1898. For information, visit alaska.salvationarmy.org.