McChord Airmen pitch in to help Salvation Army

By Master Sgt. Joe Shelton/361st Recruiting Squadron on August 5, 2011

Members of the 361st Recruiting Squadron did their part to strengthen community relations recently, donating their time to refurbish a vacant building in preparation for a local chapter of the Salvation Army to relocate a Veteran's Homeless Shelter.

The former location, in a rundown section of Portland, Ore., subjected inhabitants to drugs, crime, and violence.

"This move signifies The Salvation Army's continued commitment to serving and supporting veterans in the community," said Maj. Don Gilger, Portland Metro coordinator for The Salvation Army. "We look forward to becoming an integral part of the Beaverton community and to making an even greater impact on our veterans' lives."

The Salvation Army chapter abandoned the urban setting in favor of a residential neighborhood in Beaverton. The new facility houses not only displaced veterans but also their Families in what used to be a retirement home.

The shelter increased occupancy from 40 beds to 100 and improved the quality of life by adding a full kitchen and dining room as well as common areas for Families. Fifteen members from the 361 RCS painted more than 30 rooms and performed minor repairs on doors, toilets, sinks, showers, tubs, and even drywall.

The efforts of the Airmen saved the Salvation Army over $3,580 in labor costs, a vital service for the nonprofit organization. Portland Metro Salvation Army Volunteer Coordinator Rhona Brant expressed her appreciation to the volunteer Air Force recruiters. "Not only have you done an extraordinary job with the shelter but you have worked to incorporate additional support in committing to ongoing volunteer involvement," Brant said.

More than 350 people turned out for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony June 22, including most of the 361 RCS personnel who were instrumental in ensuring the facility was ready for veterans and their Families.

For more information about volunteering with your local Salvation Army, visit