‘Only Kindness Matters’
Younger members thrive in Salvation Army
By Cecily Hastings
I recently joined the Community Advisory Board of the local Del Oro division of The Salvation Army. My financial donations started with my father, who gave my sisters and me dollars to stuff into Red Kettle campaigns at Christmas.
My parents loved how the mission helped communities in inner city Detroit, where we grew up. I’ve made donations for more than 60 years.
Recognized throughout the world for its humanitarian work, thrift shops and donation kettles, The Salvation Army is an evangelical Christian church. It has one agenda: to meet the human need in the name of God without discrimination. Because they work on the frontlines where people are in need or suffering, Army workers refer to themselves as soldiers.
Founded in London in 1865 by William Booth, The Salvation Army was designed on a military pattern for effectiveness and efficiency. It operates in more than 130 countries and offers hope in many different forms. Summer camp, after-school programs, preschool, food assistance and holiday toy donations assist struggling families.
Other essential work involves drug and alcohol rehabilitation, shelter and transitional housing. Shelters are available 24/7 with case management and job resources. Job training programs include culinary work, certified nurse assistant and construction.
I joined a board of Sacramento leaders who help connect the Army to the community. Most advisory members have decades of business, service and community experience.
Our first in-person meeting in November included a presentation by Erin Uribe, local president of Echelon, the Army’s leadership arm for younger professionals. Echelon engages the next generation through fellowship, networking, fundraising and volunteerism.
“We focus on raising funds and volunteering for the younger generation in our communities,” Uribe says, “while also getting guidance and mentorship from our advisory board, who are professional pillars within our community.”
Uribe’s enthusiasm is a joy. “The Salvation Army represents philanthropy, kindness and faith— three things that are extremely important to me,” Uribe says. “I believe the world needs more of these things, and I am honored to be a part of something that not only spreads this message, but actually does the work.”
The challenges to service organizations under the pandemic affected Echelon. “We are reorganizing our board and membership goals,” Uribe says. “We also are making it top priority to ensure that Echelon members align with the morals, values and vision of The Salvation Army.
“We are focusing on building a quality group of dedicated, emerging professionals, and we are currently recruiting for folks that want to contribute to our mission.”
Fundraising is a big part of the mission. Before the pandemic, the group held an annual gala that raised more than $40,000.
In recent years Echelon funded two important projects for The Salvation Army’s Alhambra Boulevard campus: a remodeled Teen Center and refinished basketball court. The Teen Room has couches, board games, video game systems, ping pong, foosball and more, all purchased by Echelon.
“The Echelon board has given me a window into how The Salvation Army functions at a larger scale, and I continue to be impressed with not only the way they operate, but the individuals that they employ. The officers give their blood, sweat and tears to the Army, and it is extremely inspiring to see,” she says.
Originally from the East Coast, Uribe, her husband and young son live in Fair Oaks. Her career is media marketing. She’s deeply involved with Saint John’s Program for Real Change. “I serve as one of the two Girl Scout leaders for their in-house troop,” she says.
“From a very young age, my brother and I were taught to give back your time, your resources, whatever it is that you can give,” Uribe says. “My mother was someone that never did anything for recognition, and she always taught us this was just what we do for fellow human beings. Her motto is, ‘In the end, only kindness matters,’ and she ingrained that in me.”
Under pandemic restrictions, vital in-person social and community ties were severed for many young adults. Countless local people in this age group—especially singles—feel detached and depressed.
That’s another reason why I was impressed with Uribe and Echelon. They represent a path forward for young adults in a positive and energetic group dedicated to helping those less fortunate.
To join or learn more about Echelon, contact Uribe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cecily Hastings can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento.