Salvation Army worker is a Family Friend to kids


"While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight. While men go to prison, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight. While there is a drunkard left, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight. I'll fight to the very end." -- General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army.

EVERY DAY of the year, the volunteers and staff of the Salvation Army of Greater Baltimore continue their founder's pledge by fighting poverty, hunger, deprivation, abuse and all forms of human suffering.

In 1865, humanitarian William Booth began the Salvation Army in the slums of London. It was established in Baltimore in 1880.

Dedicated volunteers and donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, clubs, organizations and the United Way support the programs and projects.

A renewal of the Booth House at 114 N. Calvert St., an emergency residence for homeless families, is under way. When the construction is complete, available beds will rise from 38 to 75. In the interim, the temporary location is at 808 St. Paul St.

Projects and help there remain the same, particularly the Family Friends program, one of very few such programs in the country. It is for the children of parents who are temporarily sheltered there. Volunteers age 55 and older act as surrogate grandparents for ages 6 and older, taking them out for field trips, helping them study, reading to them, playing games and going for walks. Younger children can also have a volunteer friend, but they cannot leave the premises.

Family Friends also acts as advocates for all of the family, providing direction and stability.

Volunteer Ed Scoggins is a Family Friend who has made a difference to children at the Booth House.

A recent talk with him had to be interrupted because he was rushing to get a birthday cake for a young friend. "They have just gotten settled in public housing, and we're having a party," he explained. Scoggins helped the family get furniture and clothes and said he intends to continue his interest.

Being a Family Friend, Scoggins said, was a means of "finding out for myself something about homeless families. I had worked in rescue missions for homeless men for many years but not with families. Sadly, I have discovered their need is much greater than I had any idea and I have been so touched and even depressed by it. I don't know a solution.

"I have had five children in this program. Some of the mothers are trying so very hard under circumstances that would destroy me because I'm so accustomed to an easy life. The children are always loving and receptive."

Single and a lifelong Baltimorean, Scoggins is retired from the Department of Defense investigative service. He was 70 on July 20.

He said his Christian faith is his priority.

"When I was 15 I made a real commitment to serve the Lord. Since I can remember I have volunteered to groups that serve others."

Scoggins is program chairman of the Baltimore Sunday School Association, he teaches Bible classes at several churches including the Calvary Tabernacle and he is president of the Christian Community Center at 1412 Hollins St., a neighborhood spot where families can come for playing, bible classes, singing and more.

Most of his family is gone, and he said the "young people I've worked with, some are now in their 40s and 50s, I consider them my spiritual sons and daughters."

Ruth Ramsey is director of Booth House, and Gloria Foster coordinates the Family Friends project, of which there are 35 children and 14 volunteers. More volunteers are needed. Call Ramsey (685-8878) to volunteer to the Booth House and its Family Friends project.

Volunteers are needed for many other projects of the Salvation Army, including the Women's Auxiliary, helping in the homeless feeding program, in the day-care centers in Patterson Park and South Baltimore; boys' and girls' clubs in West Baltimore, Highlandtown and Middle River; by the League of Mercy in which volunteers visit hospitals and shut-ins and in the community centers in Hampden, Patterson Park, South and West Baltimore.

For complete information on all volunteer opportunities, contact Paul Dietz, director of development, The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 33308, 2602 Huntington Avenue, Baltimore 21218 or call him at 366-4997, Ext. 221.

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