The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in London by "General" William Booth. He had discovered that animals were treated better in the 1860s than homeless persons, so he set up shelter-workplaces so the homeless could have the dignity of earning their keep - sounds good to me...
But today, whenever I hear a bell ring in front of a retail store during the holiday season, I barf in my mouth.
Because over time, wealth & power have eroded the original idealism of the General's army.
The Salvation Army continues to enjoy the reputation of being one of the most well-run charities. A large team of lawyers and public relation experts make sure this never changes.
But the reality is this church (yes, it's officially a place of worship and doesn't have to make their financials public) is nothing more than a slavery operation in disguise.
We're given the impression volunteers brave the outside elements and help ring those bells leading up until Christmas Eve - all for a good cause...
But the fact is more than 3 out of every 4 bell ringers are slaves... as in their pay is "3 hots and a cot" in exchange for working nearly 40 hour weeks. In fact, the vast majority of Salvation Army bell ringers are homeless or prisoners who agree to work at the Army for a reduced sentence:
Bell ringing training uses feel-good language like, "You are the ambassadors of Christmas" to brainwash these workers to ring their bells no matter how brutal the weather is outside.
Each day includes nearly 10 hours of bell ringing (with just three 15-minute breaks). If "beneficiaries" (the workers) do a really good job, they're rewarded with a little red pin on their apron.
It's INCREDIBLY hard to find any wrongdoing this worldwide organization. That's because the Salvation Army has a team of lawyers who bully those who expose them with the threat of legal action...
Plus, the Salvation Army employs a worldwide team of public relation's experts to trick us into thinking it's a holier than though entity. In this baffling example of the Army's "reputation management" campaign, they're (seemingly ironically) taking up the cause against slavery:
Obvioiusly, this is a way to distract us. Because when we search online for "Salvation Army slavery", the majority of first-page results are Salvation Army links... not exposes AGAINST the Salvation Army:
Evil genius, eh? What a fantastic way to distract us!
Even worse, the media is in complete coverup mode. They only run positive stories. A search online finds zero negative articles about the Salvation Army. And I've been looking into their shenanigans for years.
I was able to track down two exposes for you to inspect. The Salvation Army operation goes deep - way behind bell ringing and money kettles...
And while it's possible that their stories are "sour grapes", I've been able to independently confirm a lot of what's being exposed. I recommend you do what I did... the next time you see a Salvation Army worker, ask if any of the information found in this expose is true.
This VERY interesting expose was found on the American Civil LIberties Union website as a comment from March 19, 2013:
Here's another expose by Dan Mahony published at his website in 2008 - see how their experiences match up:
Salvation Army = SLAVE NATION ARMY!
I’m going to try to open your eyes - the public’s eyes - and minds - to the biggest charity scam operation based in southeastern Michigan. I hope my revelations may encourage someone to do something to stop the plundering of the public - and the enslavement of Americans - under the guise of a Christian-based charity!
I’m speaking as a former ‘beneficiary’ of the Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center. What I hope to expose is based on my observations, experiences and investigations of the Salvation Army’s so-called “rehabilitation” program and the operations of “thrift” stores as an ‘insider’.
I have read numerous reports from various sources on the internet, and other sources, and I empathize with all those who have filed negative reports/complaints about the Salvation Army in these various forums. But all I can report on is the S.E. MI A.R.C., and its operations. I am myself, a victim of this organization’s atrocious behaviors.
I’m willing to do my best to ensure this information will also be dispersed throughout numerous public forums, including: the internet, as many governmental, civil rights and news agencies as it takes to force a full investigation of the entire Salvation Army organization, and especially the operations in southeast Michigan and to prompt appropriate action be taken to correct the wrongs this so-called Christian, non-profit charity has perpetrated against those truly seeking help… and to the general public.
What I have learned in my time there is that the abuse of the public’s trust and the mistreatment of all who seek recovery from their addictions and homelessness or alienation from their family is exploited by the Salvation Army locally and, I suspect, nationally, if not globally.
The Salvation Army has two ‘rehab’ (Adult Rehabilitation Center) centers in this area - the Detroit center is all male and the Romulus center is all female. The organization also operates thirty-four retail stores and a number of warehousing centers in the area.
I was a beneficiary at the Detroit center. I was seeking recovery from alcoholism and I was jobless. I thought a six month residential rehabilitation program would be a great step toward recovery. Isolation from the environment that sustained my affliction seemed to be something that would contribute to my recovery.
The Salvation Army considers beneficiaries as ‘clients’.
A beneficiary can be best described as someone who is attempting to recover from a drug addiction, alcoholism, homelessness, joblessness, or any other alienation from family and society. Some beneficiaries are ‘walk-in’ (those who seek recovery under their own volition), and some are court-ordered, those who are forced into the program by the Department of Corrections as an alternative to probation and/or parole prerogatives. Non-the-less, they are people who may be seeking a way to better themselves and their lives and to recover from their addictions.
During the intake process at the center, the question is raised as to whether a potential beneficiary has a ‘Bridge’ (food stamp) debit-EBT card. If so, the card must be relinquished. If not, the intake director makes arrangements to obtain one (it is guaranteed that the food stamp debit card will be approved due to the Salvation Army’s collusion with the Family Independence Agency & Health and Human Services departments). It is explained that is how your stay at the center will be paid for, and, very well may be food stamp FRAUD. Because the cardholder no longer has any control how the debit card may be used…but has been coerced into relinquishing that control to the Salvation Army the organization gets the monthly benefits.
You are then told that the program is not a rehab program, but a work therapy program! And, it is explained, that is another part of the way that your stay at the center is paid for. The S.E. MI A.R.C. administration has the audacity to call it work therapy, but it is actually slave labor. The beneficiaries DO THE MOST WORK! Beneficiaries are the back bone of this organization, although much of the general public has been duped into believing they are volunteers. Any area, or department a beneficiary is assigned is included in that department’s operating budget and a salary value is attached. The beneficiary does not get a salary, the Salvation Army gets to report a salary, and the Salvation Army gets to ‘cook the books’ on operating costs in its annual report. It is just another way the ARC can get another revenue-earning deduction which is included in operating costs.
I believe a closer look at the organization’s ‘books’ should be taken by a legitimate governmental oversight agency on a continued basis to guarantee the legitimacy of this organization’s reports. I do not believe the Salvation Army would survive such scrutiny.
If a person is court-ordered to participate in the ARC program, the Salvation Army receives payment from the Department of Corrections. That way, the Salvation Army is profiting three ways on court-ordered beneficiaries! The organization obtains the Bridge-EBT card, gets free slave labor and receives a reimbursement from the court system/Department of Corrections. These beneficiaries may get a reduced sentence/parole/probation by completing a six month program. It may sound like a good deal, except court-ordered beneficiaries are rarely able to complete the six month program because the Salvation Army tyrants always seem to find a reason to discharge these people so the only choice they have would be to go back to jail, or start the six month program all over. The Salvation Army can string these people along for up to several years for free labor.
Beneficiaries who receive a pension, social security benefits, or any other type supplemental income must sign over 75% of said monthly payments to the Salvation Army to cover the cost of residing there. This practice costs those beneficiaries from $800 to $1200 dollars per month, and they still have to work with no compensation.
Those who complete the program and attempt to become an employee must go through an additional three months residency, as a probationary period, and pay $800 per month rent. They get paid minimum wage and find themselves in a “catch 22” situation because their pay is so low and their rent is so high, they have no way to get out of the quagmire the Salvation Army has put them in. Should they make it past the probationary period, they can become resident-employees (while continuing to pay $800 a month rent). Consider this: resident employees are in dorm rooms on a separate floor from the beneficiaries, at least six to a room paying $800 per month rent. The Salvation Army profits $4800 per month, per room! Yet the Salvation Army would have the public believe that housing, food and services are provided by donations free of charge to beneficiaries and resident employees!
Or, they may become a regular employee and move out to a private residence. Again, with rent so high and pay so low, it is very difficult to live outside the facility. Some of the employees from the male facility have fraternized with employees from the female facility to ‘shack up’ in order for both to save costs on their living arrangements. Fraternization is strictly prohibited by the Salvation Army’s rules, but due to favoritism this practice is permitted.
Also, if a resident employee has any legal obligations such as child support, restitution, court costs, etc., these costs are deducted from their gross pay; they may end up with all zeros on their paycheck stub! Then, they have NO WAY OUT! The different charges for, and the treatment of the different types of residents/employees/beneficiaries are thoroughly discriminatory. That is another violation of civil rights.
And in all cases, everyone must continue to attend “classes” and attend all chapel related events!
Residing at the Salvation Army is not free! The Salvation Army leads the public to believe all services are given to beneficiaries for free! (This organization states this on its websites) And, if you cannot work, you cannot stay! If a beneficiary is injured on the job or suffers from some type of illness and is unable to work for more than two days, they are thrown out!
Most of the work is done in numerous areas by the beneficiaries with little or no recognition and no real compensation at all. And, the beneficiaries are treated as if they are sub-human at the job sites and worked like dogs!
Beneficiaries who are hoping for recovery expect to be treated like human beings, not used to reap a profit for a corrupt organization, not exploited, not violated, disregarded, discriminated against, harassed, flagrantly punished, denied our freedom of speech, denied our freedom of privacy, treated like criminals, regarded as having no credibility whatsoever and subjected to psychological abuse - brainwashing...and…most importantly, forced into indentured servitude! Slavery!!
nvoluntary servitude is a United States legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person's will to benefit another, under some form of coercion other than the worker's financial needs. While laboring to benefit another occurs also in the condition of slavery, involuntary servitude does not necessarily connote the complete lack of freedom experienced in chattel slavery; involuntary servitude may also refer to other forms of non-free labor. Involuntary servitude is not dependent upon compensation or its amount.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution makes involuntary servitude illegal under any U.S. jurisdiction whether at the hands of the U.S. government or in the private sphere, except as punishment for a crime: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
It is really human trafficking practiced by an organization that claims to be opposed to it and claims to be actively fighting it. Human trafficking (also referred to as trafficking in persons or TIP) is an umbrella term used to describe the process by which millions of people become enslaved each year. A widely accepted definition of TIP has been created by the United Nations (UN). The UN definition is as follows:
"(a) 'Trafficking in persons' shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of exploitation, forced labor of services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in sub-paragraph (a) have been used;
(c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered 'trafficking in persons' even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article;
(d) 'Child' shall mean any person less than eighteen years of age"
The UN definition of trafficking in persons can be divided into three parts: acts, the means used to commit those acts, and goals for which those acts are committed. At least one element from each of the three parts of the trafficking definition is required to create a TIP case.
Each year millions of human beings are subjected to the trafficking process and find themselves exploited in settings such as brick kilns, sweatshops, chicken farms, cocoa plantations, mines, fisheries, rock quarries, or for compulsory participation in public works or military service, Salvation Army operations, as well as a variety of other settings. Countless others, predominately women and female children, but also boys, are trafficked into the commercial sex industry where they are used in forms of commercial sexual exploitation like prostitution, pornography, and nude dancing. Some are sold as "brides."
Trafficking in persons is frequently referred to as modern-day slavery. It is an apt analogy that shocks and challenges us. Americans in particular are moved by this comparison. To us, slavery is a sordid, indelible stain on our national heritage, but nevertheless it is an evil most believe we conquered and relegated to the history books. However, news media accounts, on-the-ground intelligence from nongovernmental organizations, and reports from agencies such as the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime create a different picture. They reveal the inescapable truth that trafficking is one of the principle means by which slavery survives.
(The above-mentioned statements are similar to those on the Salvation Army’s own website in the section on their ‘fight’ against human trafficking!)
The definition of trafficking in persons is met by the Salvation Army’s actions: a) forcing beneficiaries to work in Salvation Army facilities as part of “work therapy”, b) threatening beneficiaries with punishment up to discharge from the A.R.C. if they do not comply, c) the goal being to maintain the process that produces profit for the Salvation Army. In other words, beneficiaries are kept in a state of indentured servitude.
The beneficiaries and resident employees are the prostitutes of the Salvation Army, to be pimped out to the organization’s various profit making concerns, for the sole purpose of generating revenue for the Salvation Army, the most profitable, non-profit organization in the world!
The whole operation here also stinks of a religion-based cult! It violates every constitutional, labor, safety and environmental law there is!
The only god worshiped by the Salvation Army is money. The program is run by relentless mini-dictators who have taken their positions to the extreme, will yield to no one and believe they do not have to answer to anyone. Their illegal practices should not be ignored any longer.
They are a disgrace to the idea of A Salvation Army and religious beliefs of all faiths.
The Salvation Army may appear to provide excellent and reliable service in helping domestically, and in foreign countries, but only when a photo opportunity presents itself, when television news and newspaper cameras are present, or when the organization stages a self-promoting event.
The program here is a total fraud and an outright failure when it comes to helping people with homelessness and addiction issues. It is what it is, “A FRONT” for a money-making machine exploiting human suffering! The only homeless, helpless, addicted, alcoholic people it “HELPS” are the ones who it is able to SNAG into the so-called rehab programs.
This organization does not help the general public, or anyone ‘on the street’, it only tries to snare people into a program that is designed to only generate profit! This organization provides no real services for the public, no safe houses for battered women, no temporary shelters for ‘street people’, no alternatives for children who may find themselves separated from their parents, (and, as far as I have seen) no food service trucks for people on the streets. The only ‘food trucks’ I have seen are the ones that service the Salvation Army’s catering concerns. This organization does not actively seek out and help anyone who will not result in a profit. The beneficiaries are provided only donated food (a lot of it well past expiration dates), while the catering services provide first-rate, purchased food specifically for the catering services.
Their oppressive approach by those who run the A.R.C. has created a hostile, stressful, mentally unhealthy environment for the beneficiaries and employees alike. The result is a high rate of recidivism or relapse of beneficiaries. This A.R.C. counts on these results because it will be able to exploit ‘fallen’ beneficiaries for continued in the form of free labor, continued slavery! Employees and beneficiaries (after 13 weeks in the program) are mandated to attend AA/NA meetings, which may be unconstitutional and illegal due the religious nature of those meetings.
Also, it is mandatory that everyone must attend chapel services every Sunday…men and women alike…in the church/chapel at the Detroit-Fort street facility (unless they are in work therapy). Also, on Wednesday evenings, beneficiaries must attend a chapel/bible study service. We are being forced, against our will, to attend church services that most would not attend otherwise. That is a clear violation of our Constitutional rights!
You do not need a church to worship your higher power. I worship my higher power every day. I believe…as I look around at this wonderful universe I am part of, that this all did not get here by chance. But why is the Salvation Army permitted to tell me who my GOD should be?
Beneficiaries are also required to attend various ‘classes’ throughout the week such as: Living Sober, Relapse Prevention, Anger Management, Domestic Violence, Bible Studies and various others. These ‘classes’ are thinly-veiled brainwashing sessions. They are run by facilitators, not teachers, because they are not certified as teachers in the state of Michigan. Somehow, regardless of the supposed focus of the class, the facilitators relentlessly direct all thought back to the Salvation Army’s religious point of view.
A number of the facilitators also double as ‘counselors’. Beneficiaries are required to schedule counseling sessions around their work and class times. The focus of the counseling sessions is also mainly religious in nature. Beneficiaries are assigned journals for each level. Each level is measured by completion of specific goals and objectives mostly religious in nature. Advancement to the next level depends on completion of all requirements of the beneficiary’s current level. Beneficiaries are required to complete the journals - by giving answers to questions that are acceptable by the counselors - to be permitted completion of the program. Beneficiaries are told the interactive journals are the framework of the program. The counselors tell beneficiaries that the journals will provide organization & structure to the program and help beneficiaries stay focused on important issues of their life and develop a personal plan for success. The journals are part of the brainwashing process.
A number of facilitators/counselors are also in the church choir and are paid $200 per performance, along with whatever they get paid for their other duties.
In classes, the most facilitators show movies containing profanity, drug and alcohol use, violence and nudity and don’t put any real effort into actually teaching. For example, one facilitator had a class view the movie “Flight” with Denzel Washington. The opening sequence contained full-frontal nudity and alcohol and drug use. It is outrageous that this was shown to a group of guys in recovery. And in a facility where pornography is prohibited!
And, keep in mind, a majority of the facilitators/counselors are recovering addicts and have been through the program. The inmates run the asylum in Detroit. Everyone in control of anything is someone who has been through the program (sometimes several times), a recovering drug addict, a recovering alcoholic, a convicted felon, a child molester, or some other type of reprobate…and it appears they make up the rules as they go along. Many are the biggest thieves and liars in the place! They run the place like a prison slave labor camp. They confiscate beneficiaries’ items, at will, and keep the items for their own use. They allow thefts from the warehouses, only to do “dorm raids” so they may confiscate the goods for their own use! They are also the first to steal as soon as any worthwhile shipments come to the Detroit, Pontiac and Romulus warehouses. (Just look at their shoes, clothes they wear, electronic devices they have and various & sundry items…everything has been ‘appropriated’!) Yet, they act as if they are above the laws of society, because they are running their own kind of society! They believe they don’t have to live by the laws the rest of society must.
At the thrift stores the managers, assistant managers and paid employees are the ones who have ‘first pick’ of any valuable merchandise that is received from donors, and they take unabashed advantage of their positions. Each store has its own ‘production line’ to receive merchandise at the donation area, a number of sorters, people who price and tag goods and the people who place the goods in the store showroom. When clothing is sorted and placed in the showroom, it is never washed. So, when you buy articles of clothing at a Salvation Army thrift store you are getting clothing that some paid employee has determined to be clean enough to sell. In some cases, this practice could be a health issue.
Clothing that is deemed to be unsellable is relegated to ‘rag out’ bins and sent off to the various warehouses to baled into 1400 pound bundles that are sold overseas for $500 each. Semi truckloads of these bales are continuously sent out all week long. The same goes for rag out linen and blankets.
The pricing in the stores is based on the Salvation Army’s value chart and the prices still end up being near prices you would find at any other retail stores such as: Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s and many others that sell brand new items.
The working conditions in the back of the stores are run like sweat shops. The production quotas are set at unbelievable demands. If the quotas are met…they are raised. Many times beneficiaries are working on the lines and are threatened with possible discharge if they do not perform up to expectations, or to the demands of the paid (civilian) management types. The people who are under pressure (paid management employees) from their higher ups, for quota numbers, pass their frustration on to the people working the line. And, again, the beneficiaries are the ones who bear the brunt of any retribution. They always face being penalized, up to discharge, because of some employee’s blunder. How in the world does it benefit a beneficiary, who may be truly trying to put their life back together, to continually face the possibility of being put back on the streets…and in most cases, actually being put back on the streets, because of some marginally employable person’s mistakes or incompetency?
Many of the stores are also mini-warehouse facilities…which provides the Salvation Army with even more cubic feet of storage for merchandise that is donated TAX FREE from the unsuspecting public, sorted out, picked through and then sold back to the public (If it is not stolen first, or sent to the trash compactor!).
The Salvation Army gets ‘sweetheart’ deals on the leases for the buildings where the stores are located and whoever leases the stores to this organization reaps a big tax break! The administrator of the S.E. MI A.R.C. was given a store located in Rochester and reaps all the profits!
The three main warehouse facilities (and many other ‘hidden’ warehouse facilities in this area) affords the Salvation Army approximately over 500 thousand square feet of storage for merchandise donated freely by the unsuspecting public.
In the more than 500 thousand square feet of warehouse storage, it must be kept in mind that the storage bins used (4’x4’x4’sized - and sometimes larger - cardboard boxes commonly called ‘gaylords’) are stacked, most times, three units high (up to approximately 16’), affords the Salvation Army the storage of more than a billion dollars of tax free, donated surplus merchandise in 8 MILLION CUBIC FEET OF SPACE!
This is not a poor, or suffering charity operation! They put more, perfectly good, merchandise into their compactors, as trash, than they ever present to the public for sale. Apparently this organization gets paid more for landfill trash than it would make by selling to the public living on limited means. This is for the southeastern Michigan operations alone!
The conditions in the warehouses are deplorable! They are dirty, dusty, poorly lit, poorly ventilated and, many times, in many ways, unsafe. The beneficiaries perform all the manual labor while the employees stand around and bark out orders, stay in the offices, drive forklifts or stand around doing nothing besides digging through merchandise in gaylords looking for something to steal. If a beneficiary is even caught taking something out of the trash they are subject to punishment up to discharge. The employees treat the beneficiaries like second-class citizens, or like their personal slaves.
An enormous amount of perfectly good donated merchandise never reaches the stores, but is sent as trash to the compactors at the warehouse facilities and several stores. This includes clothing, furniture, toys, games, paintings, radios, stereos, compact discs, books, other household items and numerous other, perfectly usable items which are sent to the compactors because the warehouses and stores are overstocked!
Many types of items that are harmful to the environment are put into the compactors. For example: batteries of all types from hearing aid and watch batteries, AAA, AA, C-cell, D-cell and up to car batteries, paint, solvents, fluorescent lighting, televisions and numerous other items that contain lead, mercury and other harmful chemicals that end up in landfills and will eventually find its way into groundwater.
All metal items are sifted out by beneficiaries from the trash and loaded on trucks as ‘scrap’. Items such as bicycles, steel appliances, table utensils, metal patio furniture and just about anything that contains a portion of metal is sold as scrap to the tune of about $7000 per truckload. Most of the items are in very good, if not perfect shape! Working televisions and other appliances have the A/C cords cut off so the copper wire can be sold as scrap and then those televisions and appliances are sent to the compactor.
Even cardboard is bundled into bales and sold for recycling. Not a scrap of anything of any value is wasted. The Salvation Army makes money on every phase of its operations!
And, this is a Christian organization? This is clearly a money making organization. Production numbers, and profits to be made, are clearly put before any beneficiary’s recovery. Money before helping your fellow man is the message here. And by claiming to be a ‘charity’ all its financials should be public record.
This is the worlds most profitable non-profit, yet this organization has the nerve to continue to put out propaganda such as the following:
This blog article is just one example of how the Salvation Army dupes the press and the public. The Salvation Army does not lack merchandise.
Many of the older thrift stores have a run down, ragged look. Cement floors and out-dated, industrial type lighting. They have filthy restrooms with no hand towels or toilet paper. Many have mismatched display cases and poorly fabricated shelving and racks along with disorganized displays. It is an image that is cultivated by the Salvation Army which encourages the public perception that it is a poor organization!
The newer stores (Taylor, Chesterfield and Monroe/Frenchtown, for example) get outfitted with brand new everything! New floors, new ceilings, new display cases, new racks and shelving and with the ‘best of the best’ merchandise! And all that fine merchandise is priced at retail prices. The newer stores do all right, initially, because of the curiosity of the local residents and because those areas are limited in the number of retail outlets available to their community. Eventually they will be allowed to take on that typical, run down look of the other thrift stores.
Racism runs rampant in the Detroit facility. The “N” word is pervasive throughout the facility, the stores and the warehouses. I sent a letter to the administrator, Merle Miller, expressing that many were offended by the use of that word in all its permutations. He mentioned the issue briefly during a chapel service and a memo was issued prohibiting the use of that word. The policy is never enforced. All profanity is supposedly prohibited. That policy is never enforced. The directors, managers, housemen and most everyone in control don’t hesitate to use profanity or racial slurs toward beneficiaries and employees. A number of housemen, department managers and warehouse supervisors are black and they don’t hesitate to discriminate against white and other non-black beneficiaries.
Pornography is prohibited, yet facilitators show videos containing nudity, violence and drug and alcohol use freely. Again, this contributes to the recidivism and relapse of people truly looking for a recovery plan.
Drug use and drug dealing is widespread throughout the facility. A houseman was fired and thrown out for buying prescription drugs from a beneficiary. He was caught because someone ‘snitched’ on him. (The housemen are the overseers of the facility - the equivalent of correctional officers in a prison or jail.)
Housemen are required to reside at the facility and are not required to pay rent.
Recently a member of the choir tested positive for drug use and was kicked off the choir and forced to start the program over. He is married and lived in private residence but he was forced to start the program over, move back into and live in a dorm room. One can only wonder what the Salvation Army had on him to make him go back into the program and reside in a dorm room.
I doubt that any of the department managers, directors, supervisors or housemen is subjected to drug or breathalyzer tests. There was a recent incident where a beneficiary was having heroin delivered to him while he was working collecting donations at the thrift store owned by the A.R.C. administrator. Another incident involved five out six beneficiaries in one dorm room being thrown out for heroin use. These types of incidents in the facility are numerous and continuous.
There was an incident in 2012 where a gay beneficiary was gang raped in a vacant dorm room and was taken, bleeding rectally, to the hospital and was never to be seen again! There was no police involvement and no news coverage of the incident. The rapists suffered no repercussions because there was no effort put toward determining who they were. It seems like an obvious cover-up by the Salvation Army. It could be part of the homophobic stance this organization has and the actions it takes in regards to lobbying against LGBT groups and its related efforts to circumvent the rights of people…even though in the Detroit area operations there are a number of gays in leadership or administrative positions.
I was not in the facility at the time of the incident, but I was told of the details by the person who had to dispose of the bloody mattress.
Now, you should understand that since the Salvation Army claims to be a Christian organization, it would take a stance against gays and quote Biblical scripture. But to actively lobby against anyone’s civil rights is outrageous! It is unbelievable that this organization could strong-arm the city of New York by threatening to ‘close up shop’ and leave all those homeless and hopeless addicts and alcoholics with no where to turn to for help and with no shelter or food! It just goes to show that the entire organization believes it has the power to force anyone to accept its political agenda. This is an issue that is all over the internet and is obviously of concern for many people. You can see it for yourself if you Google (or use any search engine you wish) “Salvation Army anti gay”.
Issues related to the Salvation Army in Southeast Michigan are so numerous and complex it is very difficult to explain and very hard to get people to believe that terrible things happen at the adult rehabilitation centers. This organization has woven itself into the fabric of society in a way that is almost inextricable.
The general public believes that this organization ‘does the most good’. It enslaves people who are seeking a solution to their addiction and other shortcomings in life.It is an organization that preys on the public’s good intentions. It is hard to explain what is experienced when one is going through the program. People say, “Oh, you guys are doing such a wonderful job to help people!” or “The Salvation Army helps so many people, I’m happy to give”. This is the public perception that this organization has successfully cultivated over the years. This is an organization that only does what results in a profit for the organization. Beneficiaries suffer a real conflict of morality when they forced to portray that the Salvation Army is doing the most good for the public. This organization is only doing whatever is necessary to generate profits.
Some people do benefit from the program, though. Court-ordered people can get their sentence/probation/parole reduced by up to two years for completing a six month program. But, many say that is the only reason they are there. Many are just going through the motions, “fake it to make it”, and they say once they complete the program they will just go back to their old ways which include drugs, crime etc.
Some men are so ‘institutionalized’, because all they have known for many years is dealing with the court system and being in jail or prison. It is the only way of life they have known for many years and the Salvation Army, to them, is better than jail. Some act as if they are still in jail. Some cannot deal with life in the ‘outside world’. The housemen and others who run things at the “Sally” pick up on these attitudes; and they take advantage. They know the court-ordered people have the most freedom to lose. These are the people the Salvation Army prefers for beneficiaries. The organization makes more money from court-ordered beneficiaries. Some go into the program believing the temporary isolation from the outside world and their old ways of life would be beneficial to their recovery. Nobody goes into the program expecting to be brainwashed and used as a slave.
Some people actually do beat their addictions and go on to live normal lives. There are those who make the program work for them and get their recovery going in a positive direction and actually continue in their recovery. But that is because they really want to recover. And they understand that their recovery will continue for the rest of their lives. Many have never worked or held a job. They have never made their bed, they have never done their own laundry, and they have never done the things that most have taken for granted. For some this program gives order, discipline and a daily routine to live by. But, at what cost? Only to support a corrupt organization that has duped the public into believing it is helping humanity by utilizing indentured servitude.
This organization grosses nearly one-billion dollars a year, in southeastern Michigan alone. It claims (according to its website) that it makes about 98 million dollars a year with operating costs taking about 88 million dollars per year. It makes much more and retains about a billion dollars in surplus merchandise. The Salvation Army doesn’t pay for any food or housing for beneficiaries, the beneficiaries pay for their own room and board! And, they still have to work for free…in indentured servitude.
Anyone in the ‘army’ with a rank of ‘captain’ or above gets free everything, all expenses paid…their home, cars, utility bills and everything else, plus they are paid hefty salaries. Their housing is far from ‘meager’! The administrators (Merle and Cheryl Miller) were even given their own store (Rochester)! The whole operation does not pay rent for its A.R.C. facilities, does not pay for electricity, gas or water service, gets enormous tax breaks for leased property, has obtained all of its delivery trucks in the form of donations, gets free labor in the form of slavery, gets tax free donated merchandise to sell at almost retail prices, is paid for all the landfill trash, all baled clothing and linen, all the baled cardboard for recycling, and scrap metal, all under the guise of a non-profit charity/church. And this organization does not provide any outside services such as temporary shelters, food or soup kitchens, food trucks for street people, or anything that does not profit the Salvation Army.
The administrators of the southeastern Michigan program (Merle and Cheryl Miller) can only hold the rank of ‘administrators’ because of Mr. Miller’s ‘scandalous’ divorce. He will never be permitted to achieve a military rank in the ‘Army’. But, he is such a great huckster who brings in the dollars for the organization that the organization does not want to let him go.
The Salvation Army also controls several short-term detoxification centers (Harbor Light) which it claims it does not run (on its website), but everything from stationary to signs on and outside the buildings are emblazoned with the Salvation Army emblem. Treatments in these centers are paid for by the South East Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) if the recovering addict qualifies. And, these centers do not cost the Salvation Army anything.
Things appear really out of control at the Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center and something needs to be done! You may read more negative reports on:
And there is more information on many others websites. Copy and past in your web browser or just 'Google' "negative reports about the Salvation Army” and see what you find!
Do not donate to these scam artists! Fight human trafficking! Beneficiaries work in a state of indentured servitude! Stand up for civil rights!
In its rehabilitation centers, employees are called "beneficiaries." One of Webster's definitions of beneficiary is, "...in the middle ages, a feudatory or vassal." Webster's further defines vassal as, "...a servant; a slave." Let's take a look at a composite "day" in the life of a beneficiary in a Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center.
Wake-up time is 5:45. Many beneficiaries are homeless refugees from the streets and glad to get any safe sleep at all. They tolerate motel-size rooms with six or seven bunk beds without a wince. After a shave and shower, all must go to chapel regardless of their religion.
In chapel their prayer is followed by an ear-banging from the Warehouse Supervisor about working harder at their work therapy. After that there's the usual warning from the House Supervisor about some infraction that can result in being prohibited from leaving the facility. The service ends with a prayer that exhorts them to accept the things they cannot change.
Next it's to the cafeteria for breakfast. The food comes from (1) government surplus programs; (2) from wholesalers when the food is near the end of its shelf life; and (3) from other local charities. It is also bought with (4) the money the Army gets from United Way. Yet another source is (5) the food stamps the beneficiaries are eligible for. Thus, little of the Center's daily cash flow is spent for meals. The Major prides himself on all the money he saves the Army and gets a pat on the back from Territorial Headquarters, a branch of National HQ, a branch of World HQ in London.
Mrs. Major is in charge of the kitchen staff. It's 6:15 A.M., however. Mrs. wouldn't be in much before lunchtime, if at all. She sometimes screams at staff, and once broke a Dutch door off its hinges during a tantrum about a menu without a single food she eats.
Beneficiary breakfast begins with the first of today's many cups of strong coffee followed by the usual high-fat fried eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, donuts, etc., and is consumed quickly in a cloud of cigarette smoke.
After breakfast the beneficiaries must sign out at the TV-security booth. The cameras are not there to protect them but to monitor the donation boxes behind the warehouse. Homeless persons constantly lift donated goods from the boxes, and the Major is trying to prevent the immorality of theft.
It's 6:45 A.M. in the warehouse, the start of an unpaid 8½-hour day of work therapy. Fork lifts swirl around, blinking and beeping loudly. Huge crushing and baling machines noisily squeeze out more and more recycle profits from unsellable donations. It's quite a surprise for a new beneficiary.
When labor is so cheap, recycling is profitable indeed. A center can make an extra million dollars a year recycling items not good enough to be sold in the Army's thrift shops. Throughout the day tractor-trailer trucks arrive to take neatly baled clothing, paper, cardboard, plastic, metals, etc., to places anywhere in America where they will fetch the best dollar. There is so much opportunity in the low-to-no-cost-labor recycling game that a previous Chief Fiscal Officer set up his own recycle warehouse in another town. Major is often off to some other part of the country teaching fellow center commanders the secrets of the recycling business. Recycling is big-biz, and Sally's been in it from the start.
The warehouse air is dusty because most of the donated goods have done time in attics and basements. Lights shine down in a stale fluorescence. The dust-filled light mixes with the emission fumes from the trucks being loaded for the Center's dozen thrift stores. Warehouse Supervisor and his assistants sit in their glassed-in office drinking coffee and making sure via their body language that the beneficiaries know who's in charge.
On the sorting line, the previous day's take is being divided by hand into three categories: the best things for the Army officers, the good things for sale in the stores, and the rest for recycling. It is the worst job of all: dirty, dusty, and terribly monotonous. There is no time to sit down. It is one step up from the homeless bottom of life's pyramid, the place where most new beneficiaries are assigned. Some beneficiaries escape the sorting lines because they have a skill the Major can use, e.g., auto mechanic or carpenter. Time on the sorting line can also be punishment for lapses in obedience by those who have climbed this religion-corporation's ladder a rung or two.
In the warehouse offices, the finance department's outside employees are arriving to begin the day's considerable accounting work. They need five computers to keep track of incoming and outgoing. It looks like any corporate accounts receivable department because it is one. The Army is very serious about money.
Chief Fiscal Officer (CFO) is the most important outside employee. In the real world the Head Counselor would be much more important, but she has no real rank due to the Major's careful control of anyone with more education than he. CFO struts around bragging about this or that to the three secretaries who are trying to catch up with the work he's in charge of. The switchboard is blinking with calls from good citizens who want their donations picked up.
Some donations are major. One day a call came from someone moving to Europe and willing to let the Army have everything in the house. Two trucks were immediately dispatched. Last week it was a sport-fishing boat that belonged to someone recently deceased. His survivors didn't want to pay any more dock fees. "The Army is such a fine organization," said they. It was decided to hitch it to an unmarked Army van and send it to the Major's vacation home in Florida. Two live-in employees (former beneficiaries), glad to get away, drove night and day all expenses paid.
The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in London by "General" William Booth. He had discovered that animals were treated better in the 1860s than homeless persons, so he set up shelter-workplaces so the homeless could have the dignity of earning their keep―a fine idea. But over time and by slow operations wealth & power have eroded the original idealism of the General's army.
Head Counselor decides to call the Warehouse Supervisor and try to convince him to let Jack Beneficiary come up to the counseling office to talk about a problem. She knows he usually refuses, saying that he needs all his men today. Besides, he particularly enjoys his power over Head Counselor. She has a masters degree in counseling, but Major gives Warehouse the power to overrule. Major never went to college, but he has a Masters in Divide and Conquer. Warehouse Supervisor doesn't even have a high school diploma. His credentials are that he's been in recovery in AA for over a year.
Head Counselor decides to claim that Jack needs to go sign up for a Medicaid card. Warehouse Supervisor relents because he knows Major says Medicaid cards are a must. So Jack B. gets a bit of counseling this day. He's already been to the Medicaid office, but Head Counselor knows that Warehouse Supervisor wouldn't know this. The only trouble is she'll have to come up with different lie next time Jack B. can't get off the sorting line.
Speaking of government benefits, there is no workman's compensation insurance for beneficiaries. If one is injured, and many are, he'll have to sue on his own―an unlikely possibility. The Army doesn't even pay into the unemployment insurance program for its outside employees. Head Counselor will get no unemployment benefits if she loses her job.
Major arrives at his corner executive office. He handles the overnight faxes and emails from Territorial Headquarters (THQ). The Territory's full-time real-estate appraiser will be there today to look at properties in the area. The site next door is being considered for expansion of the recycling operation. Appraiser will also look at a number of possible store sites in the territory's towns. He'll be talking big bucks and put together some great deals because, along with its tax-exempt status, the Army has its own mortgage company. It's win-win deals all around.
Major signs "Memo to All Who Haven't Yet Enrolled in the Payroll Donation Plan." All are required to make a charitable contribution to the Army. In the case of the beneficiaries it is deducted from their $5-a-week "gratuity." The Memo concludes with a reminder of the spiritual value of charity.
In another office a telephone company rep is meeting with the CFO. Major wants a new phone bank for the eight incoming lines and the Center's fifty or so extensions. It's not that the Center really needs a new system, but CFO is well trained in the Army's poor-crying ways and will no doubt come up with a very good deal that is a combination of tax-deductible charity plus guilt-motivated discount. It'll be higher tech and cost less than the present system.
A beneficiary construction crew arrives to begin the latest expansion of the financial offices. They hammer away until Major loses patience with the noise and comes out and orders them to do their work therapy during the night.
Head Store Supervisor arrives in his office for another day of cigarettes and schmooze. His office is right next to the Major's, revealing the Center's true hierarchy. Store Head and CFO daily vie for power as the Major makes sure neither gets much turf. Head Counselor isn't even in the game.
But Major can't control the staff's every move. "Real politics is the possession and distribution of power," as every corporate executive knows. So a lot of shenanigans and abuses are possible. Head Store Supervisor once showed around a little bag of diamonds removed from donated jewelry. "It's for an auction," he said with a wink. This could amount to grand larceny, but fear not for Head Store Supervisor. The Army does not often take anyone, inside or outside, to court for fear that the public will discover just how much money is involved. Once in a while, a red Christmas bucket is stolen by the guy they hired to stand in a mall and ring the bell. (Army officers will have none of this, so they hire outsiders to stand and freeze―except when TV cameras show up.) They'll report the crime to the police but take no action. The lack of prosecution will appear as yet another charitable gesture. THQ will simply fax out a Security Alert ordering all Centers not let in the errant employee. The question remains, however, as to just where the daily national loot of jewelry, antiques, and other expensive items goes.
The Captain, an administrator in training, arrives at his office. Captain gets little time with Major or Mrs. Major, however. THQ expects Major to field train him, but the Maj much prefers preaching and traveling. Besides, the Captain already knows the game. He'll get his own Center in July. He's here to learn nuances and kill time until the Major of the Center he's going to is gone.
Mrs. Captain arrives at her office. As usual she begins watching soaps on a donated TV. She arranges for someone to pick up the kids at school and do some shopping for her. After the third soap she begins to fill out a college financial-aid application for her daughter. Daughter is a true "Army Brat." She wouldn't have to fill out an application. Mrs. Captain declares a near-zero income even though they live quite well-off in a nice no-cost house in the suburbs. Daughter'll get financial aid. Besides, the Salvation Army is such a fine organization.
On paper it looks like the Center's officers have little. This is accomplished through a clever system of perks paid for by the Army, a tax-exempt religion corporation. They get free food and food-shopping allowances, expense accounts for the entire family, gas money, and free worldwide travel. Beneficiary mechanics fix and maintain their free cars. Besides having its own mortgage company, the Army has its own health-insurance and deluxe pension plans.
Donated antiques and oriental rugs adorn the officers' paid-for homes. All utility bills are paid by the Army. If Mrs. Major wants a new patio, beneficiary (slave) masons and landscapers will do it. Beneficiary roofers will create new roofs, electricians new wiring, carpenters new decks, plumbers new pipes, all for just the cost of materials.
The Army probably spends more 80% of its 'income' on administrative costs. But just how much they spend on themselves is a well-kept secret. Numerous charity watchdogs have tried to find out, but Sally's a religion-corporation.
Then there are the vast tax-free real estate holdings and the tremendous cash assets built up over a hundred years. The Major's multi-million-dollar 'Center' is just one of more than a hundred in the United States. The Army has them in dozens of other countries as well.
But, unbelievably, the Army claims it can't afford to pay minimum wage! This claim is quite selfish. If it paid each of its ten-thousand American beneficiaries $12,500 a year plus benefits, the additional cost would be about $200 million. That would leave more than $1 billion a year left over after all profit and personal perks.
The U.S. Department of Labor tried for years to get the Army to pay its beneficiaries the legal minimum wage. The matter came to a head when the competition, Good Will Industries and Volunteers of America, sued for permission to treat their employees as underpaid beneficiaries just like the Army does. In December 1990, a federal judge ruled against the Army, but somehow or other the matter simply evaporated. The U.S. Dept. of Labor suddenly ceased its litigation, and status quo ante prevailed.
Meanwhile back at the HQ its time for the big weekly staff meeting. Every supervisor is present around the spacious walnut conference table while the whole warehouse operation somehow runs without them. After an opening prayer, Major expresses his displeasure at the production level, that is, the speed of distribution of goods from the sorting line to the stores. The excuses offered by the supervisors are predictable: they blame the beneficiaries. "We'll have to work on Saturday," threatens Major. They decide to add a second shift. A dozen or so beneficiaries will now have to work from 4pm to midnight. Details are worked out as to how the cafeteria will feed the new second shift.
The Center's counselors are also present. They raise some social service issues but are ignored in favor of deciding which beneficiaries will be moved to the sorting line because they don't work their therapy hard enough. This is an ongoing problem for the supervisors. The better (= faster) workers view the sorting line as a punishment and so want off of it as soon as possible. But the Center is a corporation which always needs increased productivity. It is agreed that the Warehouse Supervisor will "talk about it" at tonight's prayer-supper.
Major tells Head Counselor to call local detoxes and drug-treatment programs to recruit more beneficiaries. The Army claims in its brochures that, "57% of all those who graduate from our program stay sober and drug free for a year." It conveniently omits the fact that 67% of all those who enter the program do not graduate. So the true success rate is 57% of the 1/3 who complete the program. That is a 19% overall success rate, no better than for those who recover without any form of addiction treatment.
Staff Meeting is interrupted by a phone call from the Mrs. Major. She shrieks at Major loudly enough to cause him to pull the phone away from his ear. It emerged later that Daughter's car had broken down the previous night and the Mrs. was furious. It was decided that a beneficiary mechanic would sleep with a pager so that if it happens again he can speed out to get her at any time. Daughter will soon get a new car. It will be listed as being for social services and will not have Army insignia so as not to embarrass its occupants.
Next, they deal with the main business of the day: the opening of the latest new Thrift Store. Someone suggests they rent a huge spotlight to light the night sky. Rejected with a snicker. Head Store Supervisor drops a bombshell: the new store doesn't have enough racks and shelves yet. This could delay the Big Opening. "Get it done TODAY," roars Major. It is decided to dispatch a crew of beneficiaries in two trucks to take a few racks from each of the other stores and set them up in the new store. They will work into the night. A few packs of cigarettes and a supervisor's wink will be thrown their way as overtime pay.
Work therapy is the best business scheme since the company town. It enables the Army to be in the retail game big time because it can operate without the bother of salaries, health-insurance plans, pensions, workman's compensation insurance, union demands, and last but not least, taxes. Above all, the stuff it sells it gets for free.
All this gives the Army an unfair competitive edge in the retail business. In some cases its stores are located right across the street from the very department stores whose skirts and shirts it will eventually resell or recycle.
The meeting grumbles on. Security wants another TV camera that scans and focuses on the Center's donation boxes by remote control. He already has two, but Security Supervisor is a computer-video hobbyist with other plans for the third camera. Major knows the security game and orders an immediate check written. He can rid himself of Security any time he wants, but right now, this one's loyal. And sober.
Security Supervisor decides to celebrate his victory and now complains that too many beneficiaries leave their empty soda cans in the Recreation Room. So he's closing it for 24 hours. The Major's silence signals his refusal to overturn the verdict. He usually gives Security free reign because it pays to do so in the long run. The staff grunts its approval―except the counselors who know that the rec room is the only pleasure, the only escape from work therapy.
All business, religious, and social-service decisions are made by Major, either by royal edict or by silently letting lower rulings stand. He is not only Chief Executive Officer of the Center's multi-million dollar retail and recycle business, but Head Therapist, Head Counselor, and Minister. Over time and by slow operations all this power has corrupted him completely. (And the Mrs. and the kids.) Everyone must call him "Major." No one in the Center calls him by his first name, not even upper-echelon outside employees. Even behind his back he's "The Major."
It's night now. From the pulpit The Major quietly reminds beneficiaries that they live in a feudal system: "It's my way or the highway." Either they follow his and his underlings orders or they'll be sent back to the streets. His soothing voice belies his heartlessness. Once business matters are handled, he then preaches God and morality, reads from the Bible, and requires them to sing hymns while he conducts.
Following that, Warehouse Supervisor demands faster work therapy. Around the holidays, when donations pour in at a furious rate, a night shift and sixth day are added to the work week. The whole thing is worse than feudalism. At least in merry old England vassals got to live on some land and had shorter work days. At the Center it's, "three hots and a cot."
Sometimes, when Major is away, there is a crackdown by his recovering-addict supervisors who have neither the skills nor the temperament to supervise personnel. Beneficiaries who cross them in any way are terminated and have thus lost their abodes and jobs in this born-again company town. There is no referral process. It's just back to the streets.
Supervisors are usually long-time loyalists who have made their way up the ladder from beneficiary by showing compulsive loyalty to a string of Majors. They are paid minimum wage minus their rent―$400 per month to share a small room. (Guess who's their landlord.) At the Center this is status. One of their privileges is that they get to rule over beneficiaries. Power makes up for lack of money for these recovering-addict supervisors who would never achieve anything near such status anywhere else.
Head Counselor complains that some men seeking admission to the Center are being kept on the streets by the Intake Supervisor who has the gall to base his selections on whether or not he likes the candidates. He gets away with this because he is a favorite of Major's. He especially dislikes Hispanics, who, as a result, are rarely admitted.
Intake Supervisor can listen to himself talk all day, especially during the group therapy sessions he leads. He never went to college, but he is actually given the role of therapist by Major. During his group sessions few get to share anything as he rambles on.
Head Counselor would like to be able to supervise Intake Counselor and perhaps teach him some group-counseling techniques. After all, she has a masters in psychology, and is state certified. But Major is jealous of educated persons―he too never went to college.
Head Counselor is almost as depressed as the beneficiaries, her idealism daily crushed and recycled. The Major keeps her far enough down his hierarchy to insure that she won't make much difference. She can't sleep at night, and counts the days until she has completed two years and can get a job elsewhere. This is just what the major wants. Then he'll' get a new Head Counselor, after extensive interviews of candidates. (He especially likes doing job interviews. The power sends his adrenalin soaring, and he'll likely choose a female for the job.)
Major can get away with all this because the Army scrupulously avoids regulation by government agencies. No state would ever permit untrained persons to act as therapists. Worse, Major can make all the psychotherapeutic decisions he wants because he's a Minister and is therefore automatically a licensed psychotherapist. Fortunately for the beneficiaries, he is normally too busy with the "fiscal and spiritual health of the Center" to do much psychological counseling.
But we have digressed from the staff meeting.
This week's list of beneficiaries to be ejected from the Center is presented by the warehouse and store supervisors. They go down the list one by one. There is no rhyme or reason to their decisions. Some beneficiaries are thrown out, others get a reduction in their five-dollar-a-week spending money. (The spending money, for legal reasons, is called a "gratuity," by the Army. It is little more than a left-over morsel thrown to obedient vassals.)
Money matters notwithstanding, Head Counselor tries divert the meeting towards helping the needy by objecting that Jack Beneficiary should not be made to hit the road just because he does not work his therapy hard enough. "He's depressed," she says. The store supervisors become angry at being opposed in front of others. They suddenly invent other infractions to further jeopardize Jack's case. Head Store Supervisor overrules her. Major silently lets it stand. Jack is history. The supervisors swoon in the euphoria of power as the rest of the staff grunts its approval--except the counselors.
A few days later, "Jack" was kicked to death while sleeping in a railroad station. His real name was Robert. He cleaned the counseling offices as part of his work therapy. His only crime was that he could not work harder because of his depression. This writing is dedicated to Robert's memory. It is written with the hope that some day the Major and his Army will no longer be allowed to get away with these things.
Lunch time. The meeting closes with a prayer. It's Head Counselor's turn. She ends it with: "Please make us worthy of your gifts."
At the cafeteria, officers and outside employees eat in the officers' dining room which is set off from the beneficiary cafeteria. The food is served by beneficiary waiters.
Mrs. Major is in for lunch today along with Daughter who is just back from Europe "visiting Centers." She's showing around photos of Paris tourist traps. The conversation drifts from deferral after deferral to Major. Suddenly, Mrs. Major declares that she will be hosting tonight's Special Concert. The Head Store Supervisor groans to himself. He knows she'll go on and on triumphantly conducting hymn after hymn. Major and Mrs. can't get enough of conducting. It's so symbolic of their power. The emotion of the music causes many beneficiaries to mistakenly associate their filled hearts with The Major. (And beneficiaries who take part in a singing group don't have to go to Bible Class.)
Mrs. has another motive for wanting to lead tonight's special concert. She's used to the home-court advantage and doesn't want to be upstaged. The concert will feature a spiritual vocalist who sings along with tapes recorded without a lead singer. Unlike the Mrs., she can really sing. It will be spiritual karaoke using the chapel's big sound system The whole thing will sound like Beethoven's Ninth. The Mrs. is in danger of upstaging.
A previous Major at the Center also did spiritual karaoke. He'd sing along with emotional accompaniment tapes made in recording studios by one of the Army's full-time orchestras. He was transferred to a distant Center, however, after he had gotten involved with an outside employee. Her husband had come into the offices threatening to kill him.
The Army does not permit popular music to be performed by anyone in the Army. Its excellent bands and orchestras perform only songs written by Army composers. The one exception is Christmas carols on those rare occasions when a Army brass band plays by a mall-bucket. For the TV cameras. Otherwise it's just the dinging bell.
Speaking of the buckets, in the early nineties some mall owners tried to ban the Army's bands and bell ringers. The mall owners were under pressure from other charities who wanted a shot at the big holiday money. The Army seemed to have exclusive rights to the malls. Suddenly, First-Lady Barbara Bush appeared on the network news standing by a little red bucket. The Battle of the Malls was history.
Back at the Center, lunch is over and the warehouse is again humming. The trucks are returning with the day's loot so the sorting line is abandoned in favor of unloading. Warehouse Supervisor keeps an eagle eye open for the antiques and jewelry.
The Center's mechanics are at work on the never-ending rotation of trucks and cars to be maintained and serviced. Major depends heavily on his beneficiary mechanics. They save the Army a good deal of money. Besides the dozen Sally trucks, there's the Major's car, the Mrs.'s car, Daughter's car, one for the Captain's family, and another for visiting officers and wives. The well known trucks have Sally insignia on them, and two vans without insignia are for social service uses such as ferrying beneficiaries to the hospital or the Welfare Dept. Or for private Army activities.
The Center's vehicles are usually not more than one or two years old before they are traded in. Local auto dealers give Major a good price because he's such a good customer. And he pays cash. He's also good at getting them to sell him auto parts at cost. Dealers can take the difference as a tax-deductible donation. Besides, the Army is such a fine organization.
The trucks, cars, and vans used to have two-way radios as part of the Center's communications network. But once a staff meeting had to be spent handling a complaint from the local Federal Communications Commission office that the Center wasn't following proper procedure by using "over," etc. It's all cell phones now.
The special concert ends. Neither The Major nor The Mrs. stay around to conclude the night or thank the guest vocalist. Store Supervisor gets up and does it. The exhausted beneficiaries finally get to their bunks. And besides, the $alvation Army is such a fine organization.
Bottom line about the Salvation Army
It's absolutely true - most of us have the impression that the Salvation Army is one of the better run charitable operations. Because it's a money-making machine... not because it helps those most in need.
I find that almost every single charity is a money-getting business cloaked under the guise of a charity. This sad but true finding is confirmed after watching this short video:
I used to give a ton of cash to charities in the past. Doing so made me feel good. But these days, I no longer give blindly. Instead, I cut out the middleman and help those in need directly.
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