The Salvation Army

There is no doubting that winter has arrived. For most it brings about smiling faces, knee deep pow and excitement over Christmas just around the corner. An exciting month, the end of a year, the start of ski season and after a seasonal social lull, you’ve now endless festive excuses to ensure you never spend a night in on the couch. However, even for Fernie’s finest, it’s a costly extravaganza and many people can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed.

This month, whilst festive excitement is growing as fast as the snow pack, I met with Lieutenant Kayla McKenzie, from the Salvation Army to find out more about their community service, learn about the many services they offer and of course hear about yet more of Fernie’s Unsung Heroes.

What is your role?
Kyla McKenzie is the Pastor for the Salvation Army, has been in Fernie since July, and during her relatively short stint is constantly surprised by the generosity and goodwill found here. However, that doesn’t mean that help isn’t required.

Primarily a church, the Salvation Army reaches around the globe. It also prides itself on its thrift stores, food banks and family services. It is Lieutenant McKenzie’s role to oversee these “many different facets” in Fernie and communicate with other Salvation Army’s in the area.

Who does the Salvation Amy reach out to?
“The Thrift Store is the biggest most well-known area.” Primarily it is there for those “who can’t otherwise afford.” However this is not just the case, with everyone in Fernie at one time or another finding a need to use its facilities and delve deep into the bargains up for grabs. A store without stigma, it’s a much loved and utilized resource, but let us not forget who it’s primarily aimed at and its reasons for existing.

“The Food Bank is available to anyone, on a short-term or long-term basis.” If in need, presenting yourself with your ID at the Salvation Army, you’ll immediately get help. “Receiving a hamper every three months, containing food as well as house wares.” Plus, with the aim to help people get back on track they will “co-ordinate with the Thrift Store to supply job interview clothes or help cloth a new baby,” for example. It’s a well thought out resource and with seven or eight new persons a week looking for help, also a busy one.

The Family Resource service helps to create “independence” letting those whom reach out to “get the help or whatever is needed.” And with the new shelter set to open in Cranbrook, Lieutenant McKenzie believes existing working relationships will grow, helping cover Fernie’s needs, “partnering where necessary.”

Are you always looking for volunteers?
Yes, there is definitely a need.” Certainly this is the busiest time of year for all, with a huge “increase in requests in demand of service. Parents want to give kids a better Christmas and so reach out for help.”

Despite the amount of work carried out by this team, there are only half a dozen volunteers. “Within the Thrift Store, there is a strong network of volunteers as well as paid positions that collectively keep it up and running. With such a large amount of stock constantly coming through the door, volunteers help keep the show on the road.”

Equally as important, the Food Bank plays an important part with many groups in Fernie providing, calling up out of the blue after a successful drive to donate their collected goodies.

The Christmas Kettles started up in full force at the end of last month, raising additional funds at this pivotal time of year. It’s pretty much the case of if you don’t need to take this Christmas, perhaps you can instead give a little? As cliché as it sounds, every very little helps…

And as Lieutenant McKenzie praises, “We at The Salvation Army depend on our volunteers and so of course we extend our thanks to those who volunteer with us in everything from standing on a kettle shift to helping out in our Thrift Store. Their hard work and dedication are an example to us all and an encouragement in our efforts. So to all those who help out we send a big thank you and a whole lot of gratitude. For those who don't currently volunteer, if you think this is something that interests you please give us a call and we look forward to working with you.”

You heard it here first and what better time to get involved? Kyla can be reached at kyla_mckenzie@can.salvationarmy.org or 250-423-4661.

The Fix is Five!
I first stepped foot in Fernie fall of 2006 and as I set about getting to know Fernie, for what I thought was ‘just one winter’, the Fix was too just about to start finding its feet. My favourite Fix moments are the seasonal guides – arriving just as you’re getting pumped for a big change in season, making me say, “This year I’m going to start this or try that.”