Service corps sees another side of life while working in Detroit

By: Brad Rowland

The Southern Territory deployed an 11-person Salvationist Service Corps team to inner-city Detroit over the holidays with the mission and desire to both serve and witness. The team, led by Captain Valentina Cantu, assistant to the territorial youth secretary, and Jovanie Smith, young adult and mission deployment coordinator, visited the Eastern Michigan Division from Dec. 29 through Jan. 5. The trip featured full immersion into programming at the local level.

The full group split into multiple units each day, aiding in Detroit’s Bed & Bread program by operating canteen ministry in several locations. Their work involved food preparation, stocking, food service and ministry opportunities.

The Bed & Bread program travels more than 130 miles each day in service to the community and, with only a small staff, serves more than 1.3 million meals annually while also providing more than 130,000 nights of shelter. Trucks visit more than 50 locations daily, no matter the weather conditions, and many in the community rely on the program’s dependability.

As part of the journey, SSC members lived in the Salvation Army Harbor Light shelter and were hosted by Captain Jamie Winkler, director. By operating fully as residents of the program throughout the trip, the team was afforded the opportunity to see a different side of both the Army and its ministry.

“It was an eye-opening experience for many of the team members,” Smith said. “Witnessing the severity of the situation and seeing that kind of poverty is so real. Some team members had not experienced anything like this in the past and it was an opportunity for us to serve different communities and experience what, for many, is a daily reality.”

In addition to serving on the ground in Detroit, those on the trip were charged to take something away for the express purpose of investing at their local corps and within their local community.