The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs hard at work in Charleston with help from Optimum

By: Brad Rowland

In Charleston, West Virginia, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs are hard at work, investing in the lives of young people on a daily basis. Thanks to a recent donation from Optimum, one of the largest technology providers in the United States, The Salvation Army is even better equipped to serve and foster the development of local youth. 

The Salvation Army and Optimum, formerly Suddenlink, have partnered over an extended period of time, including the sponsorship of a school supply drive in 2021 and multiple local events. In 2022, Optimum elected to sponsor a technology corner for The Salvation Army, purchasing more than $15,000 worth of computers, software, furniture and equipment to help young people in and around Charleston. 

“Optimum, and our parent company Altice USA, know our responsibility to customers goes beyond providing a product and service. We are committed to leaving a meaningful, positive impact in the communities we live and serve,” said Bob Lillie, regional vice president of local market engagement for Optimum. “This donation will provide access to technology for dozens of children on Charleston’s West Side, equipping them with the skills needed to be successful as they move through life.” 

The ribbon cutting and unveiling for the technology corner took place in July, with fellow community partners in attendance. The event also featured tours and personal testimonies from young people who have seen their lives change from the ministry of the Boys & Girls Club. 

“The idea for the Optimum Technology Corner stemmed from our partners at Optimum identifying a need and quickly taking action,” said Justin Clark, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club in Charleston. “At the Boys & Girls Club, we recognize the role technology plays in today’s world, and we are so thankful to Optimum for their continuous partnership and critical investments that provide our members access to technology and STEM learning opportunities, which contribute to strong digital literacy skills and inspire interest in STEM opportunities.” 

In the summer of 2022, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs also launched the “Readers are Leaders” initiative, with tremendous support from the community. Several prominent local figures volunteered to read to the young people, including United States Senator Shelley Moore-Capito, who distributed books from the Library of Congress. 

West Virginia First Lady Kathy Justice, and West Virginia State University President Ericke Cage, as well as countless local political figures, city council members, and others have also participated in the reading program. In addition, The Salvation Army, under the leadership of Majors Joe and Jayne May, area commanders, was also chosen recently by West Virginia’s Promise as the recipient of the “Red Wagon Award,” given to an outstanding organization devoted to improving the lives of young people, raising awareness, encouraging action, and engaging in advocacy to provide children key support through five fundamental resources. Those resources, referred to by the organization as the Five Promises, are carding adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education, and opportunities to help others.