Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 13, 2013

Salvation Army faces busy season, tight cash

VALDOSTA — Husband-and-wife Salvation Army Capts. Guy and Monica Nickum have busy weeks ahead.

They will be overseeing the move of the organization’s thrift store to a new location on North Ashley Street. She is founding a Women’s Auxiliary.

They do this in addition to the Valdosta Salvation Army’s regular operations of providing a men’s shelter, offering social services, sponsoring scout troops, leading church services, preparing nearly two dozen youngsters for summer camp in a few months, offering the gymnasium/basketball courts to the community, businesses and a team league.

Unfortunately, it’s only April and the local Salvation Army is dipping into its reserve funds, Guy Nickum says, referring to the near depletion already of funds raised during the Christmas kettle drives.

“Christmas is when people see us the most,” he says, “but many people don’t understand what goes on with the Salvation Army year-round.”

As an example, Guy Nickum breaks down the Fiscal Year 2012 numbers.

• Men’s shelter, or the transit lodge, hosted 191 men, providing dinner, breakfast, laundry and shelter at an operational cost of $19 per day per man.

• Social services helped 2,181 people with rent, utilities, etc., at an average cost of $37 per person.

• Youth programs which includes Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and character-building efforts reached 1,646 people at an average cost of $43 per person. The organization is also providing $150 each for 22 selected youth-programs children who will spend a week at summer camp.

Guy Nickum says the Salvation Army has not had to end any of its services but it has had to turn people away in the past when the budget is tight.

“Any time we can’t help, it’s because we don’t have the money to help,” he says, adding the Salvation Army follows strict guidelines to ensure the people receiving help need the help.

“I’m a steward of the community’s money,” Nickum says. “We give a hand up, not a hand out.” So, it’s difficult turning away people who really need help.

In addition to the annual Christmas kettle drives, the Salvation Army receives funding from its thrift store, but these revenues are down because the work to build an overpass on U.S. 84 has had a negative impact on the thrift store’s business, Nickum says.

“The thrift store’s income has dropped because people cannot get in,” he says.

Nickum hopes to see the thrift store’s move to the planned 1015 N. Ashley St. location completed by May.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army continues strengthening its community presence through a ministry that visits neighborhoods near the Troup Street headquarters, and the development of a Women’s Auxiliary.

Monica Nickum is seeking members for the auxiliary. She describes the needed members as being women “with time, talents or treasure” to share with the Salvation Army. The auxiliary would meet regularly once per month.  Members determine projects they would like to develop; these projects do not need to be related to the Salvation Army. The group will also back one or two fundraisers per year.

To learn more about the Valdosta Salvation Army, call (229) 242-6440.

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