Doing the most good: A guest blog from Colleen O’Brien

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If there’s one impression Spokane has made on me since my move here from Seattle two-and-a-half years ago it’s this: Spokane is one of the most community-driven, charitable cities. I’m in Spokane, because I have the privilege of telling this city’s stories for KXLY4 TV. Every time I tell a story of someone in need I know they’ll be taken care of. Not
24 hours after a story airs, the community envelopes that person and lifts them up.

In fact I just interviewed 18-year-old Cody, who was hit early in the morning New Years Day by a suspected drunk driver. Cody is in the hospital and under careful watch because he was born with only one kidney, which was damaged by the one-ton truck that slammed into him.
The very next day, a viewer called to offer his kidney to Cody.

There’s the stories I tell and then there’s the people and organizations behind them. Since living in Spokane, I’ve had the opportunity to sit on The Salvation Army Advisory Board. When I started I knew nothing about what The Salvation Army does, but I went into it knowing I was entering something special. I sat quietly during my first few meetings, listening, taking notes, trying to understand why I was there.

I started listening to descriptions of all the programs offered at Spokane’s Salvation Army and exclaimed, “I had no idea The Salvation Army did so much!” They’ve heard that before.

In fact, ask anyone at The Salvation Army, from the charismatic couple Captain Kyle Smith and Major Lisa Smith to the ambitious Development Director Heather Byrd and one of the hardest Business Administrators around Sheila Geraghty. They’ll all tell you the same story about the person who took their first tour of the campus and exclaimed, “I had no idea The Salvation Army did so much!”

I got it.

I’m here because The Salvation Army is doing the most good (one of their signature catchphrases). Want to know how? The Salvation Army doesn’t just offer a bed for the night, the organization offers a full-circle program: Enter the shelter, apply for transitional housing, collect food at the food bank, receive counseling, work skills, get help finding a job, and finally – become independent.

The way I described it sounds so simplistic, but with the staff at The Salvation Army it is.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Sally’s House, which is a safe place for kids left alone because there’s drug use or abuse in their home or if they have a failed foster placement. The children get clean clothes, three meals a day, counseling, tutoring, and above all get to have some fun.

The people working and volunteering for Spokane’s Salvation Army have heart and the proof is in their numerous success stories. If I haven’t convinced you yet, consider that Captain Kyle Smith (you know… the one with the accent) broke the world record for continuous bell-ringing by standing out in the freezing cold for 36 hours. He wasn’t allowed to sit or eat and only got a few bathroom breaks. He raised $7,000 for those seeking help from The Salvation Army.


That’s why it’s an honor and a joy to sit on The Salvation Army Advisory Board.

Colleen O’Brien

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