A group of highly motivated volunteers from Williamson County have stepped up to take responsibility for a Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Canteen (mobile kitchen). This is a unique situation and The Salvation Army is excited about this opportunity to better serve the community.
Randy O’Dell, a Realtor in Williamson County, located just north of Austin, has been appointed Volunteer Coordinator and has been the driving force behind this partnership. “I had been giving to The Salvation Army for many years and decided to get involved about a year ago. I wanted to expand my service outside of my own church and look at the bigger picture,” explains Randy. “I like that they are a Christian organization and have always admired all the good that is done by The Salvation Army.”
After several months of conversations and meetings with Salvation Army Officers in Killeen and Austin the idea of assigning a Salvation Army Disaster Canteen was suggested to Randy. “I met with the leaders of The Salvation Army in Austin to discuss how we could get a Salvation Army presence in Williamson County. I was thinking we could maybe open a Family Store or establish some kind of partnership with a local organization,” said Randy. “When they suggested the Disaster Canteen I loved the idea! This is just the kind of project I was looking for.”
The Salvation Army canteen is a full service “kitchen-on-wheels” that can prepare and serve approximately 1,500 meals per day. The canteen has been placed in Williamson County on school board property, along with school transportation vehicles, in which The Salvation Army will have access 24/7.
So far, Randy has recruited 45 volunteers who have committed to being part of the project which includes attending Salvation Army Disaster Training sessions. “We had 32 volunteers attend the first ‘Introduction to The Salvation Army’ session and have scheduled our next class, ‘Food Services’ training, for July. The volunteers are excited about the project and we received a lot of good feedback about the training,” said Randy.
Major John Carter, Area Commander for The Salvation Army in Austin, commented, “This is a great opportunity for The Salvation Army to expand our volunteer base for Disaster work and at the same time provide a Salvation Army presence in Williamson County. I believe this project may be the first of its kind; a Salvation Army Disaster Canteen being turned over to a group of volunteers outside of any local Salvation Army church affiliation. I am delighted about this partnership and thoroughly expect that the volunteers will be responsive, not only to the needs of the local communities, but will be deployable to other regions as well.”
Randy and The Salvation have an exciting vision for the future of this partnership. “I expect this will turn into much more than simply a kitchen-on-wheels,” concluded Randy. “I can imagine running lunch programs for the needy, breakfast for school children during the summer, and so much more. I believe this is a start to a great future for The Salvation Army in Williamson County.”
For more information or to get involved with The Salvation Army in the Austin area please contact (512) 476-111. For current information about The Salvation Army in Texas please visit www.salvationarmytexas.org and for Emergency Disaster Services information go to www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 83 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.