Working with two separate Salvation Armies has been a great experience as we are learning about the different roles each unit takes. The Blue Island branch is more of a community center, equipped with a rock climbing wall, a large gym, a weight room, multiple classrooms, a chapel, a 24-hour prayer room, an art center, and a senior center. They are currently running day camps for children in which they have activities ranging from theater and choir to going to the movie theater and the local pool. Teenagers and adults with memberships are able to play basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc. all day in the gym area. Senior lunches are provided daily, and there is a Hispanic worship service on Saturday nights and an English service on Sunday mornings both run by Josh Polanco, the resident pastor.
The Salvation Army in East Chicago doesn’t have daily children’s activities, but rather offers a free daily lunch available to everyone. This is run mostly on donations, many of them being from well-known restaurants such as Pizza Hut, Panera Bread, and Red Lobster; needless to say, the public receives a good quality meal. Captain Daniel Paredes and his wife Captain Nivia Paredes run most of the operations, and are involved with getting to know the people who come in for these meals as much as they can. They offer support and prayer for the people that are willing to accept it. They also run a bilingual (Spanish and English) worship service on Sundays.
From the outside looking in, the name The Salvation Army seems to fit the organization. They are clearly appreciated by the surrounding communities, and they offer hope and help for many who would be lost without them. They are accepting and offer love daily, truly being light in a dark world.
Note: Check out all the exciting things that are going on with Experience Mission on our website www.ExperienceMission.org