Austin Shelter for Women and Children

Travis County Commissioners Approve Sale of Land to Philanthropist Dick Rathgeber, Pave Way for New Women & Children’s Shelter

Austin Shelter for Women and Children

AUSTIN—Today the Travis County Commissioners unanimously approved the sale of 7.5 acres of surplus, county-owned land on Tannehill Lane to the sole bidder, Mr. Dick Rathgeber. Rathgeber, who is Chairman of The Salvation Army of Austin’s Capital Campaign, has committed to donating the land to The Salvation Army for construction of a new women and children’s shelter. The land is adjacent to the Austin Shelter for Women and Children, which is operated by The Salvation Army and funded by the City of Austin. Following the vote, The Salvation Army released the following statement from Lt. Col. Henry Gonzalez, Salvation Army Area Commander:

“There is an invisible crisis of family homelessness in Austin, and today’s vote will help us address this challenge for our great city. We are deeply grateful for and humbled by Mr. Rathgeber’s generosity and vision to care for the most vulnerable of our citizens. We are pleased to have worked collaboratively with the Travis County Commissioners to see this vote come to fruition. Not only will the location of the new shelter contribute to the welcoming, campus-like environment we have cultivated for the existing shelter, this vote will also allow us to gain up to 35 percent efficiency by co-locating the facilities. Tens of thousands of women and children will eventually have access to services customized to meet their needs in a nurturing environment to help them move from crisis to self-sufficiency. Today’s vote is a win for Travis County, the City of Austin, The Salvation Army, and most of all, for the women and children who will find safe haven and a fresh start in this new facility.”

On October 14, 2015, The Salvation Army of Austin launched the public phase of its first capital campaign in 27 years by announcing it had raised $10 million of a $14 million goal. That announcement kicked off a six-week awareness campaign, Invisible Austin, to draw attention to the crisis of family homelessness in Austin. Frost Bank has agreed to support a social media campaign designed to raise public awareness of and engagement with the capital campaign. Every time the hashtag, #InvisibleAustin, is used on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and The Salvation Army Austin is tagged in the post, Frost Bank will give $10 to the capital campaign up to $50,000. For more information about the campaign or how you can get involved, visit and help solve the crisis of women and children experiencing homelessness.

11-17-2015_Statesman Editorial


About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 126 years in the Austin area. Locally thousands of people receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, to relief for disaster victims, rehabilitation for the addicted, clothing and shelter to those experiencing homelessness and case management to help people move from crisis to stability. Eighty-two cents of every dollar The Salvation Army Austin spends is used to support those services in Travis and Williamson Counties. For more information, go to, or


Williamson County Volunteers with Colonel Henry Gonzalez

Disaster Volunteers

Williamson County Volunteers with Colonel Henry Gonzalez

Williamson County Disaster Service Volunteers with Randy O’Dell (center) Colonel Henry Gonzalez (right)

There is something special about the Williamson County disaster volunteers. The Salvation Army is blessed and honored to have so many dedicated volunteers serving our community with us!

In the midst of the Bastrop County/Smithville fires that took place at Hidden Pines earlier this month, were a team of volunteers working tirelessly. These selfless volunteers are led by volunteer and disaster coordinator Randy O’Dell. They maintain the Williamson County disaster canteen and provide hydration and nourishment to first responders during disasters.

Bruce Peterson serving at the Hidden Pine fires Oct. 2015

Volunteers serving serving at the Hidden Pine fires Oct. 2015

During the fire relief efforts, these volunteers put in 12 to 14 hours a day to support our firefighters. Their days also included traveling an hour and a half to get to the fires at 5:00 am each day, some coming from Liberty Hill and others from Georgetown, and then traveling an hour and a half back home each night. They graciously donated their time (637 hours) and their gas money ($717.63) to make it out every day to serve the courageous first responders battling the fires.

Total Served at the Hidden Pine fires:

  • Meals:              930
  • Snacks:            1,285
  • Drinks:            2,140

Just the day before, the disaster volunteer team had responded and served firefighters at the blaze in Taylor, which was fortunately quickly contained. After their services at the fires concluded, the disaster volunteers did not stay home and rest. They came out two days later to the Shoe-In this past Saturday at Celebration Church. Saturday’s torrential rains would have kept most people home, but this exceptional team of volunteers came out to helped give more than 250 elementary school children in need, new socks and shoes.

One particular volunteer, Bruce Peterson, found time in between the fires and the Shoe-In to give haircuts to homeless veterans through the Austin Veterans Stand Down. Bruce stays and cuts hair until there are no veterans left needing a haircut. During the Texas Floods back in May, disaster volunteer Cindy Wells, gave her extra pair of shoes to a young woman who lost everything in the floods, including her shoes.


Williamson County disaster volunteers at Hidden Pine fires Oct. 2015

These are just a few examples of why the Williamson County disaster volunteers are so special. We are so thankful for this extraordinary team!

Click here for more information on joining this amazing volunteer team.

Capital campaign press conference

We’ve Launched our Capital Campaign – #InvisibleAustin

Colonel Henry Gonzalez speaking at the Capital Campaign press conference at the Austin Rehabilitation Center

Colonel Henry Gonzalez speaking at the Capital Campaign press  conference at the Austin Rehabilitation Center.

Last week The Salvation Army Austin launched its Capital Campaign. The campaign commemorates The Salvation Army’s 125th Anniversary and funds raised will support a renovated emergency shelter, a new shelter for women and children, new facilities to administer The Salvation Army programs, and a new drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for women. Our goal is to raise $14 million, of which – we are thrilled to announce – $10 million has been raised so far. Click here to read our campaign launch press release.  You can also view our media coverage from KEYE and FOX7 which includes capital campaign speeches from Colonel Gonzalez and our board members on our youtube channel.

As the city of Austin grows, the number of families experiencing homelessness rises. You can help shine a light on the hidden crisis of family homelessness. A special website has been launched where visitors can download digital resources to share and find more facts about family homelessness at Below are some examples of posts and tweets you can share to help the cause, plus information about a big social media challenge from Frost Bank. You can also show your support and take a picture with our #InvisibleAustin cutout and post or tweet your pic. Look for the cutout the next time you’re at an Austin event.


“There is a quiet crisis of family homelessness in Austin,” said Area Commander Lt. Colonel Henry Gonzalez. “Last year, three out of four of the clients sheltered in The Salvation Army emergency shelters were women and children. These families are behind the scenes, out of the public eye and in desperate need. We believe this is a crisis for our prosperous community. Through this capital campaign we are shining a spotlight on family homelessness and raising the resources to greatly expand our capacity to serve them.”

We are excited to announce that Frost Bank (@FrostBank) has generously agreed to support a social media campaign designed to raise public awareness and engagement of the capital campaign. During the six week campaign, every time the hashtag #InvisibleAustin is used on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and The Salvation Army Austin is tagged in the post, Frost Bank will donate $10 to the capital campaign up to $50,000!

We are thankful to all that have donated and that are helping spread the word to raise awareness of #InvisibleAustin. “…together we can address the crisis of women and children experiencing homelessness, and invest in the long-term success of Austin.” ~ Dwight Thompson, Advisory Board Chair

We’ve created some sample social media posts to make it easy for you to share:

Facebook post: For 125 yrs @SalArmyAustin has been the silent, steady partner meeting the needs of the #InvisibleAustin population. Donate & learn more at

Tweet:  Each night, @SalArmyAustin provides a bed to 420 neighbors in need. Help spread hope to the #InvisibleAustin ppl. at

Doing the Most Good Award

Doing The Most Good Award – Kayela Boyd


Doing the Most Good Award

Colonel Gonzalez with Award recipient Kayela Boyd

Meet this quarter’s Doing the Most Good award recipient Kaeyla Boyd. She has recently made the transition from Learning Lab to Case Manager and has been a model employee in both positions. Kaeyla can be counted on in times of crisis as well as times of calm.

Kaelya has an engaging personality whether teaching children in the Learning Lab or working with a client to help them find the services they need to move toward self-sufficiency.

Kaeyla goes the extra mile to help out with client assignments both in and out of the downtown Social Service Center. She has a very good working relationship with clients and they enjoy meeting with Kaeyla.

Kaeyla has taken on extra weekend work around the shelter in times when management needed a substitute. She has helped numerous children with their school assignments and projects. Kaeyla has helped mentor the new Learning Lab staff successfully.

Kaeyla is such an outstanding employee and friend. We are blessed to have Kaeyla Boyd with us at The Salvation Army and are grateful for her dedicated service to our clients and their children.


Intercom Tour

Kayela is a great source for information and a great tour guide. Here she is giving a tour of the Learning Lab to Intercom employees.


Kaeyla Boyd

Kaeyla Boyd



National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month


National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. As the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passes, we are reminded how disaster can strike in our own backyards. There are many ways we can prepare ourselves and our families for disaster.

Some disasters Texans may experience and should prepare for are power outages, floods, wildfires and hurricanes. Losing your power in the middle of the Texas heat can be a dangerous thing and we recently experienced the tragedy of massive flooding this past May. There are many ways you and your family can prepare for the next disaster.


Every family can prepare a Basic Disaster Supplies Kit which includes:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days
  • Food, at least a 3 day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

For any disaster, the best thing to do is follow the story on your local news station and stay informed. Some disasters give us an advanced warning with time to prepare. Have an evacuation plan ready. If you have pets, have your pet carrier ready to go in a location that is easy to get to in case you have to escape danger quickly. Have your important documents and valuables in one safe location that you can quickly get to.

Hurricane Rita

Hurricane Rita

Flood Preparedness

With the 2015 Texas Floods fresh in our memories, it is a good idea to get flood prepared now. Just a few things you can do are: purchase flood insurance, elevate critical utilities, flood proof basement, clear debris from gutters and downspouts and move valuables and documents to a safe place.

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is June 1st to November 30th. Because hurricanes can be tracked, the first thing to do is stay alert and follow the hurricane’s path on your local news station. Have an evacuation plan ready. Think of where you can travel and who you may be able to stay with until the hurricane is over. Protect your home by having boards ready in your garage with the tools needed to board up your windows. Plan with your neighbors in advance if you think you may need help boarding up. Purchasing hurricane proof shutters will save you time in the event of a hurricane. Gather enough canned goods, batteries and water for a few days.

Wildfire Ready

Unlike floods and hurricanes, there are no advanced warnings for wildfires. Although wildfires can occur anytime within the year, the potential is high during periods of little or no rain and can occur anywhere from remote wilderness to your own backyard. Some of us may remember the 2011 Texas wildfires that occurred in Bastrop and other parts of our community which were devastating to our community.

Because fires are unpredictable, a great thing to do is make sure you have homeowners or renter’s insurance to cover your property and belongings. Reduce the amount of material that burns easily around your home. Use fire-resistant materials for landscaping and construction around your home.


Remember your life if the most important thing. Your things can be replaced but you cannot. Have a family meeting and talk with your family about what to do in case of disaster.

Bastrop Wildfires

Bastrop Wildfires

For more information and ways to prepare for floods, hurricanes, wildfires, tornados, earthquakes and winter storms, please visit:

For additional emergency supplies list visit:




Hurricane Katrina

Remembering Katrina – 10 Years After


Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane season in 2005 was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history. The most devastating of all storms to hit the Gulf Coast that year was Hurricane Katrina. Katrina strengthened to a category five hurricane and weakened to a category three as it made landfall in southwest Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina wiped out and destroyed so much in a matter of hours:

  • 1,836 lives lost
  • $81 billion in property damage
  • 80% of New Orleans was catastrophically flooded

The Salvation Army emergency disaster workers and volunteers were on hand to deliver relief in the form of shelter, food and hydration, and emotional and spiritual care. $382M was generously given and entrusted to The Salvation Army to provide immediate and long-term support for survivors of the hurricanes. A total of $157 million was spent on immediate response efforts that included:

  • 178 canteen feeding units and 11 field kitchens brought in from across the country
  • More than 5.6 million hot meals and 8.2 million sandwiches, snacks and drinks
  • 178,313 cleaning kits and 235,229 food boxes (groceries)
  • 282,000 emergency disaster assistance cases registered
  • Emotional and spiritual care for more than 275,000 individuals
  • Direct financial aid, in the form of gift cards and housing/utility assistance
  • Equipment and transportation for Salvation Army disaster personnel
  • Assistance to more than 2.6 million survivors in the affected region
Hurricane Katrina survivors line up at The Salvation Army food canteens for meals.

Hurricane Katrina survivors line up at The Salvation Army food canteens for meals.

In Austin, Texas, under the Katrina Aid Today program, The Salvation Army Austin was able to provide long-term case management and emergency assistance in a number of ways:

  • Provided long-term case management to 262 families
  • Helped people maintain their housing or obtain housing by paying for deposits and rent
  • Provided referrals for counseling, therapy and spiritual care
  • Met weekly to collaborate with other local providers to ensure that needs were being met and services were not being duplicated
  • Helped families enroll their children in school
  • Worked closely with the school districts to get their children up to grade level through education and tutoring
  • Worked with the Red Cross and other disaster aid networks to help families find their loved ones
  • Provided vouchers for furniture from local Salvation Army Family Stores
  • Helped evacuees access job retraining to prepare them for tech jobs and other jobs relevant to the Austin economy
  • Helped families access housing and childcare and find employment


New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast were completely flooded and in ruin which forced many families to relocate to other cities and even other states. 25,000 survivors from the New Orleans Superdome were transferred to the Astrodome in Houston. The Salvation Army staff united with hundreds of pastors, church members and volunteers to help. Six to eight mobile feeding canteens were brought in from around the United States.

“What started as a possibility, became a probability, and concluded as a horrid reality. Buildings were obliterated, bridges broken, levees split asunder. It was in so many ways, ‘the worst of times.’ And yet The Salvation Army responded with promptness, competence, determination, daring and Christian love. The results were amazing. People were encourages, homes built, communities kept together, lives literally saved. Hurricane Katrina did indeed represent ‘the worst of times,’ yet in terms of serving hurting people in their time of greatest need and in the name of Jesus Christ, Katrina and its aftermath was also ‘the best of times.’ Never have I been prouder to be a Salvationist!”

-Major John Jordan, former Community Relations & Development Secretary

 Did we help you? Tell us your story.




Ice Cold Water

Texas Heat

Ice Cold Water

Austinites are used to the heat, but the last few weeks were especially hot with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees. With a surplus of bottled water, thanks to I Am Water’s generous donation, we were able to go out to provide cold clean water to those that may not have access.

On Wednesday, Salvation Army staff and volunteers stood outside the front of the downtown shelter offering cold bottled water to clients leaving the shelter on their way to work, to those coming into the shelter seeking assistance, and to others on the street enduring the heat.

Being outside in the Texas heat for only one hour can be draining and exhausting and for those who are experiencing homelessness, this unfortunately is something they bear every day. Offering cold water outside the shelter gave volunteers and staff the opportunity to lend an ear and listen to the people’s stories and struggles. It gave us a chance to bring in families of volunteers and watch them share the act of kindness and giving to strangers. Offering bottled water for one afternoon may not seem like a big deal, but on this hot scorching day, there was a sense of community and sharing.

Maureen-iphone 4

Laura-Spradlin-construction worker

Jan-iphone-import-2015 014 

We would like to thank our volunteers who came out to help distribute water. We would also like to thank I Am Waters again for their support.

Jennifer-Oconner-Jamie-McKenney    Ben-Brummett-client  Volunteer with client

socks image

Sock Drive


socks image

The Salvation Army Austin has partnered with Round Rock Express and Chick-Fil-A to hold sock drives around Travis and Williamson counties benefiting local children through the 2015 Shoe-In.

The Salvation Army works with partners in the community to identify elementary school age children who are the most in need -those who live in poverty or are experiencing homelessness- so that we can provide them with shoes for the new school year.

This year we are raising funds and working with Academy to provide shoes to local children in need. But we can’t stop there. What would make a new pair of shoes even better? Socks! We are working with local businesses to acquire new pairs of socks. Our goal is to give two new pairs of socks to every child.

A new pair of socks and shoes is so much more that what we think it is because children who are experiencing poverty may not have everything they need to get through the school year. A new pair of socks and shoes can restore hope, elevate confidence and provide comfort. Having a good pair of shoes also helps with health and overall well-being. Shoes not only support our feet, but can affect our back and spine. Having good shoes and new socks is so important during a child’s growing years.

How can you help?

Donate here to help provide a pair of shoes to a local child in need. Or stop by any one of the following locations and donate a new pair of socks:

August 11-14th – Dell Diamond: 3400 East Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock, Texas 78665. Donate two pairs of new socks and receive 2

tickets to an upcoming Round Rock Express game.

 August 17-22nd – Chick-Fil-A: 12501 N. MoPac Expy. Donate a new pair of socks and receive one free Icedream.

 September 24thChick-Fil-A: Georgetown, TX. Donate a pair of new socks and receive a free Chick-Fil-A Sandwich.

 We would like to thank Round Rock Express, Chick-fil-a and EZCORP for holding sock drives benefiting children in need in our communities through the 2015 Shoe-In.

I Am Waters

I Am Waters

Elena Davis, President and Founder and Angela Henderson, Chief of Staff

Angela Henderson, Chief of Staff (left) and Elena Davis, President and Founder (right)



Texas summers are hot! Unfortunately not everyone is fortunate enough to have the basic necessity to survive the heat: water. Elena Davis, President and Founder of I Am Waters, saw a need of clean water for those that are experiencing homelessness and decided to do something about it. In 2009, Elena Davis started the I Am Waters Foundation.

The I Am Waters Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas dedicated to providing fresh, clean water to the homeless.”

Last week, The Salvation Army was blessed with a large donation of bottled water from the I Am Waters Foundation for those in our emergency shelters this summer. I Am Waters donated 22 pallets (38,016) bottles of water. They will donate water again to The Salvation Army Emergency Shelters in August.

These water bottles will help keep the children in our shelters hydrated while at summer camp and while playing at our shelters, and will also keep the women in our shelters hydrated on their way back and forth from school or work.

I Am Waters carry inspirational messages on each of their bottles knowing that the person drinking from the bottle may need a little inspiration.

iamwaters_love_bottle_water iamwaters_bottle_water_hope-200x428 iamwaters_dream_bottle_water


 “I am so impressed and inspired by the many great organizations that help the homeless with housing, job skills and food. I Am Waters compliments these groups with our straight-forward mission to provide clean water to the homeless on the streets… I Am Waters provides our inspirational water bottles to homeless organizations for free to distribute to their clients in ways they deem best.”

We are thankful to I Am Waters for providing not only hydration to those living in our emergency shelters, but also love, compassion and hope as well.

Purchasing a bottle of water from I Am Waters at your local Whole Foods, supports the I Am Waters Foundation.

(photos of bottles above from I Am Water website)


Water delivery to The Salvation Army

Water delivery to The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army Austin - Recovery Story

Shop and Help Save a Life

The Salvation Army Austin - Success Story of Clayton

Clayton, Jessica and Michael W. Smith – Doing The Most Good Luncheon 2015

You have probably seen a Salvation Army Family Store in your area or have maybe even shopped at one; but did you know the good you are doing when you shop with us?

Sales from The Salvation Army Family Stores support our Adult Rehabilitation Center. The Rehabilitation Center provides spiritual, social and emotional assistance for men who have lost the ability to cope with their problems and provide for themselves.

Each center offers residential housing, work, group and individual therapy, all in a clean, wholesome environment. The physical and spiritual care that program participants receive prepares them to re-enter society and return to gainful employment. Many of those who have been rehabilitated are reunited with their families and resume a normal life. Anytime you shop or donate to our Family Stores, you are helping someone have a new start to their life.

Clayton is one of our amazing True Stories of Recovery. His story was featured at The Salvation Army’s 2015 Doing The Most Good Luncheon. Read his story here:

Clayton working at The Salvation ArmyClayton

“I was completely broken. No hope, despair, you name it. I was fighting a long term drug addiction of alcohol, opiates and crack cocaine …. I basically lost everything. I lost the place I was staying … my job and my car, and the mother of my child left me.”

Clayton was homeless and living out of a crack house when he heard about the Salvation Army. Clayton knew the Salvation Army as the folks who “stand out front of Walmart and ring bells at Christmas time.” He soon learned that The Salvation Army does that and so much more.

When Clayton first walked into our Adult Rehabilitation Center, he met a young man who would become his bible study partner. What began as the two of them quickly grew into a weekly small group of men studying the word … and reading the Purpose Driven Life.

For Clayton, God’s word made the difference.

Clayton has been living at the ARC for 16 months. He is actively involved in a local church and works for the Salvation Army. He hopes to soon be reunited full time with his wife and daughter.

Through the program Clayton says he has “learned how to be a father, to commit to things, to be a man of my word. I get to be the father that my father never was.”

He says, “I’d like to give back that hope that was given to me … when I see people on the street corner I can tell them I know what they’re going through and there is a place that can help.”

How can you help? Call 1-800-SA-TRUCK (728-7825) to make a donation today. Or visit anyone of our four Austin locations to donate or shop:

4216 S. Congress Avenue, 78745

8801 B Research Boulevard, 78758

601 W. Louis Henna Boulevard, Round Rock, 78728

13530 N Hwy 183, 78750

Store Hours are M-T-Th-F 10-7 and Wed. & Sat. 10-8

*Click here for more information on our Rehabilitation Program and to read more True Stories of Recovery:

Shop at our Family Store today!