Imagine if you will, two young men meet somewhere in their town. They strike up a conversation and quickly become friends. It doesn't seem to matter that one of the young men is obviously poor while the other seems to be from a rather well-off family. They meet on a regular basis and talk of the things that interest them both . . . their friendship grows.
One morning before leaving home, William, the well-to-do young man, is advised by his mother that they are having friends for dinner and he replies that he will bring his friend. And he did.
Sadly, William's friend was embarrassed as he entered William's beautiful home and saw all those people beautifully dressed chatting as they awaited to be served a sumptuous meal in the elegant dining room. It was, to say the least, awkward and humiliating. William's heart ached for his friend and he couldn't understand how his parents and their friends could not see beyond the tattered clothes of his friend and discover the person that he knew and respected, the person who was his friend.
That experience so moved young William that he dedicated his life to bringing respect and nourishment of the body and soul to those who are often invisible to others.
Young William Booth founded what we now know to be the worldwide Salvation Army.
In Laconia, we are fortunate to have a very active and diverse branch of that army, headed up by Captains Steven and Sally Warren.
Among their many outreach programs, the Salvation Army offers a noon day meal at what they call The Friendly Kitchen. Over 20 different churches and other organizations contribute to providing a substantial meal every Tuesday through Sunday noon at their main building on Union Avenue. There are no restrictions on who may enter the dining hall. Often, some of the diners are workers in the area who know they are welcome and who know that volunteers from some local church or other organization have prepared a nice luncheon, including beverages and desert. Other diners may be temporarily residing at the Carey House or be local folks who enjoy the meals and the social aspect of community dining. Often, if there are left-overs, the remaining food can be given to the Carey House next door, where it will be used to help feed some of their residents.
There are a number of organizations who contribute food stuffs to the Salvation Army, including local supermarkets, farms, and individuals. Should you like to make a food contribution please call the main office at 524-1834.
Next door to the main building is the Salvation Army's Carey House, 528-8086. This house provides temporary shelter for up to 31 people each night. Within that number there are three modest sized family units, and the other rooms can accommodate up to 14 men and 6 women. The Carey House staff works with each of the residents to develop action plans to help them find work and regain their independence. As part of those plans the staff assists in myriad ways to help the residents find permanent housing. In speaking with Amanda Lewis, the director of the Carey House, I asked what kinds of items are most needed to help support the Carey House operation. One of the first items mentioned was paper products, particularly toilet tissue. As you can imagine, the bodily functions of 31 people requires substantial amounts of bath and facial tissues, paper towels, bar soap, washing machine detergent, and other cleansing agents. Of course there are any number of food stuffs that would also be welcome. Please consider the Carey House needs when you make your next shopping trip . . . they are located on the corner of Union Avenue and Spring Street and have an ample parking lot right off Union Avenue.
Another of the Good Works of the Salvation Army is its Thrift Store at 77 New Salem Street, in Laconia, 737-9998. This is a sizable location and it accepts most donations, except mattresses. Because of space limitations, on occasion they will put a hold on some electronics items that get overstocked. Otherwise, clothing (regardless of season), household items, furniture, toys, and most everything else is welcome. Those wishing to take a tax deduction simply need to ask and a receipt will be provided for the goods donated. This location provides temporary work for Carey House residents while also providing a shopping outlet for those seeking useful clothing, household, and electronics at very reasonable prices.
These are but of the few good works done by this wonderful organization. If you would like to make a contribution to help in the continuation of their good works, you may send your donation to them at P. O. Box 326, Laconia, NH, 03247-0326, or, if you would like to make a continuing monthly contribution, please send in to The Salvation Army Laconia Corps Processing Center, P. O. Box 955, Keene, NH 03431-0955.
Out of the goodness of his heart, and a desire to respect those less fortunate, young William Booth created this wonderful organization. Please help to continue to fulfill its promise.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)