Captain Roseno takes steps to raise Army’s profile in Port Charlotte, Florida
By: Brad Rowland
In late September, Captains Israel and Claudia Roseno, corps officers in Port Charlotte, Florida, began talking about how they could bring awareness and funding to The Salvation Army in the local community. Further discussion led to copious planning and preparation, and on Nov. 5, Captain Israel Roseno set out on a walk of 50 miles and gained the positive attention of the community.
“With COVID-19 and the uncertainty surrounding kettles at one point, we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Captain Israel Roseno said. “We felt that we needed to come up with something outside the box, both to raise some extra money as a buffer and to catch people’s attention in a shared media market. It is sometimes difficult to draw that attention but, in talking to my wife, we came up with the number of 50 and how we could embrace that number. I thought I could walk 50 miles and, from there, we found the 50th day before Christmas in an attempt to raise $50,000. Then, we really went to battle.”
In advance of the walk itself, Captains Roseno stood alongside staff and volunteers with a large to-do list. Tasks included securing a permit from the county with an approved route for the walk, lining up support vehicles to be within one mile at all times and focusing on important fundraising to provide the best possible service to the community.
“We tried to go for new dollars, not for people that were already planning to give to us during the Christmas season,” said Captain Roseno. “If we just mail and talk to current donors, we’re limiting what we’re getting, and people might just give to us once. We wanted to go to a new pool of potential donors, and this was a great opportunity to spread the word about what we’re doing.”
At approximately 4 a.m. local time on Nov. 5, Captain Roseno began his journey, with a young person from the Port Charlotte Corps joining him for the first 27 miles. Along the way, he was supported by first aid, headlined by a corps member that is a registered nurse, and he was joined by Captain Claudia and his family for approximately eight miles.
After nearly 100,000 steps, Captain Roseno crossed the finish line at nearly 10 p.m. local time and with important reflection and appreciation for the journey.
“Now that I look back, it is difficult to grasp that I walked that far,” Captain Roseno said. “It really is hard to imagine. I never thought I wouldn’t make it, but for the last 10 miles, it was really painful. There are advantages to walking in the flat area of Florida, but there was humidity, and that takes a toll in itself. I had to tell myself to slow down near the end, take my time, stop when needed and make sure to change the mentality and make sure I finished.”
Fundraising is ongoing, with donors encouraged to visit 50forGood.org to support The Salvation Army’s work in Port Charlotte. The 50-mile journey will also continue to pay dividends, with increased awareness of the mission and the ability to serve while doing the most good.
“We’re very pleased with the results,” said Captain Roseno. “It was great to get people talking about the work of The Salvation Army and make them more aware of us locally. One of the things I kept thinking as I walked was, yes it was painful, but the lives of people we are saving are much more painful on a daily basis. I reminded myself of the challenges people are facing every day and having the discomfort of walking like this isn’t a drop in the bucket of that. I think I now have even a broader appreciation for when people are really struggling. It gives you an extra level of compassion for people that we serve.
“This is an excellent time for people to hear about The Salvation Army’s work. I’m sure there are people in the community that heard of us for the first time, and some of that comes from media attention. We were able to let people know what we do, that we don’t just ring bells, and we are doing a lot to try and help the community. I’ve heard from people that they’ve learned of us, and hopefully that goes beyond them knowing that a crazy guy walked 50 miles before Christmas. The feedback has really been great.”