1992 From Manhattan to Moscow Feeding The Homeless
Five years ago Captain and Mrs. Sven-Erik Ljungholm were feeding and sheltering the homeless at The Salvation Army's Central Citadel Corps in midtown Manhattan, not knowing where their dedicated service would take them.
Where it has taken them is Moscow and the re-establishment of The Salvation Army's work after a 70-year absence.
The official re-opening took place on November 3rd in the Polytechnic Museum, the same location which was used in 1918 by Capt. Ljungholm's grandfather, who pioneered The Salvation Army's work in that city. Since then, Capt. Ljungholm has been busy implementing many services with much of the focus on feeding thousands of homeless who swarm to Salvation Army soup kitchens each night.
"We currently operate a total of 18 soup kitchens," explained Capt. Ljungholm, "and we've recruited 100 volunteers from our three Moscow corps plants to oversee them. Already, we've distributed more than 70 tons of food. The City of Moscow is providing the trucks. So we're able to feed about 6,000 senior elderly each night."
The Salvation Army was designated by the United States government to coordinate the $78 million "Operation Provide Hope," distributing emergency provisions to the elderly and poor as well as offsetting the food shortages presently being experienced by the Russian middle class.
The bulk of the emergency rations are leftover supplies unused in Operation Desert Storm and are made up of canned food, dehydrated beef patties, pancake mix and fruit cocktail.
To prevent the rations from ending up on the black market, Capt. Ljungholm and other Salvation Army workers have been riding the food trucks from the airport to the military warehouse where the humanitarian aid is securely stored, which is under 24-hour patrol. From there, Russian soldiers and Salvation Army workers transport it to soup kitchens, hospitals and orphanages.
In addition to providing food, blankets and other emergency supplies, The Salvation Army hosted the first-ever social work conference in in the former Soviet Union in March.
One of the select few attending from the United States as a guest lecturer was Mrs. Captain Dorine Foreman, who until recently administered The Salvation Army's fuel fund programs in Greater New York as well as assisting in the Summer Family Respite Camping Program.
Some of the issues covered at that conference included; chemical dependency, halfway houses, family abuse and unemployment, hunger and homelessness, social work structure, juvenile delinquency, latchkey programs and care for the elderly. The
conference was also attended by The Salvation Army's internationl leader, General Eva Burrows.
That Capt. Ljungholm was chosen to spearhead The Salvation Army's reentry into Moscow was not a surprise to many. He has always been a trailblazerFF in Salvation Army services and programming.
At New York’s Central Citadel in mid-Mamhattan, he established a feeding program for the homeless, mostly from Grand Central Terminal. He later expanded that program into a small shelter for 19 homeless individuals who wished to pursue their GED's (high school diploma). So successful was that program that four of the first graduating class were accepted into Fordham University.
The Salvation Army still maintains a feeding program at Central Citadel as part of an overall division-wide program that provides more than half a million meals a year.