The Salvation Army meets physical, emotional need for seniors through furniture in Central Oklahoma
By: Brad Rowland
With the help of a grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, The Salvation Army is positively impacting the lives of seniors across Central Oklahoma. After applying for funding and receiving a generous allotment, The Salvation Army began taking applications from seniors in early 2021, seeking to assist individuals 65-or-older in maintaining independent living status. More directly, the grant allowed The Salvation Army to meet basic furniture needs by providing a bed, chair, small table and/or dresser to stabilize the living situation of those in need.
“We found that there are a lot of seniors sleeping on the floor, or on top of blankets or a blow-up mattress,” said Diane Maguire, senior program manager for The Salvation Army in Central Oklahoma. “The grant really allows us to serve those individuals, improving their situations and investing in their quality of life.”
With four senior centers in the area, including one free-standing operation and three offices located inside HUD operations, The Salvation Army originally opened this application process to senior clients through those active service delivery venues. From there, the reach was expanded, using social media, television and radio, and the overall focus was to serve the greater need of seniors in the community.
“I am grateful that we are able to meet the need,” Maguire said. “I’m also even more aware of how great the need still is.”
The initiative was able to help dozens of seniors, some with beds and/or bedding that included a mattress cover appropriate for a senior individual. Others were outfitted with supporting furniture, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
“I was sleeping on an air mattress and having aches and pains,” said a 67-year-old woman served through the program. “I was given a bed and bedding through this program, and only Jesus can know how grateful I am.
“I am so thankful,” said a 68-year-old man. “You turned a cold, empty apartment into a home where I feel safe and comfortable.”
After the strong response and distribution, The Salvation Army was encouraged to re-apply with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for 2022. This process is ongoing, with plans to expand service and help even more individuals that need assistance in outfitting their homes.
“Normally with this grant, it is not encouraged to apply more than once for the same reason,” Maguire said.” In this case, The Salvation Army was actually asked to reapply, because they recognized the significant need.”
With the distribution of basic furniture items, The Salvation Army met the physical needs of many. However, the initiative also strengthened the resolve of seniors and, with the isolation and loneliness prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, emotional and spiritual needs were also at the forefront.
“Coming out of the pandemic in some ways, so many of these individuals were in isolation and felt like they had been forgotten,” said Maguire. “By meeting with them and making this provision, it really changed lives.”
“When you meet this need for the seniors, it meets not only their physical need but also meets emotional and, in many cases, I think a spiritual need. They need to know that they still count and haven’t been forgotten, and this really seemed to do that.”