WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL)-- Many people are aware of the the services and outreach provided by the Salvation Army throughout the year, but what about the church's history?
The history of the Salvation Army began in London in 1865. A Methodist minister, William Booth, and his wife Catherine grew compelled to do more. They set out to help the historically poor East End of London with the London Christian Mission. It would be about another 10 years before it would become the Salvation Army we know today.
“Their hearts for those in need was big,” said Capt. Shannon Thies, one of the ministers at Waterloo/Cedar Falls Savation Army.
Dedication to others has been the cornerstone for the church that has been called one of America's favorite charities.
“The Salvation Army is currently serving in 130 countries worldwide. Our mission is international to reach to the most vulnerable,” said Thies.
Thies, along with her husband Capt. Martin Thies, lead the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Salvation Army. The Salvation Army's history of ministry is fairly unique. From the start of the church, they have allowed women to serve in the ministry, something that was unheard of in the mid-1800s and is still gaining traction today.
Outreach by the Salvation Army is targeted toward the communities they serve, meaning a person might find something in one town and not the other.
“The wonderful thing about the Salvation Army is that, although we are the same Salvation Army in every community, our ministry looks quite different,” said Thies.
Some of these programs might be a breakfast or coffee ministry to the elderly of the town or a hot lunch program for those in need.
A Waterloo woman rings the bell for the Salvation Army. (Courtesy: Waterloo/Cedar Falls Salvation Army)
The Salvation Army has been a part of the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area for more than a century, putting down roots in the late 1800s. After bouncing around to a few different locations, the Salvation Army settled into their Franklin Street location where they run a robust food ministry. People are provided with hot meals and given canned and perishable foods.
At the Waterloo/Cedar Falls location, they also are the largest provider of shelter in northeast Iowa. The church also provides services such as helping people with rent, finding a job or even providing the last free medical clinic in the area.
“We believe in the transformation work that can happen in peoples' lives. That happens when we care and sit down and talk with them. It doesn't just happen when we help them with their needs. We see a whole person,” Thies said.
These services all require money to continue. About 30% of the annual budget for the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Salvation Army comes from red kettle donations.
Last year donations and fundraising were down, prompting the Salvation Army to cut back on some of the services.