The Salvation Army will focus on giving help up as opposed to hand outs to the Jackson community in 2012.
Captain Ken Chapman says a new $8 million, 37,000 square-foot Community Center on Beasley Road will “bring transformation to the city of Jackson.” The facility, which will be open to the public in March, sits on 15-acres and will include education and fitness activities. In addition to an education wing, the completed center will include a gym, an almost Broadway-length stage for ballet, a water splash pad, a chapel, band equipment and a track with exercise stations, among other things.
Chapman is passionate about motivating and developing people: “It is the way we should be investing our money now — building a better work force.”
Leading up to Christmas 2011, the Jackson Salvation Army partnered with BankPlus to teach monthly money management courses that it will continue and expand at the new facility this year, along with other life skills classes.
“I’ve declared war on entitlement,” Chapman said. “And I’m declaring war on sin and poverty, and we’re going to put our money where our mouth is … People don’t know a way out because that is the way they have lived their whole lives. We’re going to love them and teach them out of poverty.”
The new financial literacy class called the SMART program — for Saving Money and Recovery Training — uses a curriculum designed by the FDIC. The program was the brainchild of Chapman and BankPlus Executive Vice President Gene Delcomyn, whom Chapman calls a “visionary leader.”
SMART is used to teach low-income families how to save for their children’s Christmas, so they will not be totally dependent on the Salvation Army Angel Tree. Thirteen parents and 27 children participated in the program in 2011, and BankPlus agreed to match the amount each parent saved for each child up to $100.
Delcomyn said, “Our goal is to assist the parents to provide for their children through their earnings and savings which lessens their dependency on the community to provide Christmas for them. We expect the program to grow and expand in 2012.”
Additionally, Angel Tree registrants were required to attend a Life Skills course, which including parenting skills, in order to be Angel-Tree eligible. As a result the number of Angels dropped from 8,500 to below 6,000, Chapman said. He believes the Salvation Army nationwide will follow Jackson’s lead in making the Salvation Army more responsible to donors by helping those who are really in need.
In addition to parent education, the new Community Center will also focus on children’s education with after school programs targeting Kirksey, Northwest and Chastain middle schools as well as North Jackson, Boyd and McWillie elementary schools.
Jackson’s Christian ballet company, Ballet Magnificat, will teach discounted classes for around $60 for 10 weeks, said Tiffiney Gray, Community Center director. Aerobics, kick-boxing and Zumba classes will be available on a sliding scale with fees as low as $3 per class. Sponsors and grants will be needed to make up the difference for performing arts fees.
Gray said Comcast plans to partner with the organization to teach Internet essentials classes in the Center’s computer lab. Classes targeted to senior citizens are also in the plans.
Construction for the Center began in 2009, and it will open to the public in March. Parents will be able to register for classes with an online signup system.