general newsletter

Better Together. . . A New Expression – Sector Leadership Spot

May 4, 2020

By Kenneth Johnson, The Salvation Army

Recently The Salvation Army joined with others in making the heart-breaking decision to cancel preplanned conferences. For our organization it was a National Advisory Organizations Conference planned under the theme “Better Together.” In these unprecedented times our silent enemy COVID-19 decided to send us all to our separate global corners. And yet, in the true spirit of American compassion and creativity, we all discovered new approaches to continue to strive in a united effort to alleviate unimagined suffering. In new ways, we have been energized to come together – to collaborate in a deeper and more meaningful way as never before. Helen Keller reminds us that: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Certainly, we have seen the truth of ‘better together’ during these challenging days.

When history is written about COVID-19, it is hoped that stories of united strength will be part of the narrative. Who has not been encouraged through images of citizens coming together to sew protective masks for first responders? Our friends at JoAnn Fabrics stepped to the plate to provide pre-cut material and elastic for anyone wishing to help. We are inspired by communities that come together and organize ‘thank you’ parades in order to provide cheer and support for the those on the front lines. Food drives abound as lines of the hurting and frightened form around the block. Neighborhood children wanting to help join together to create ‘blessing boxes’ running over with much needed supplies of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and boxes of pasta. Indeed, together we are stronger!

Is it appropriate to say that these are days of celebration? What we are celebrating is the very fabric of the American spirit, that undying commitment to give. These are moments that we need not only remember but also use to frame our response after the crisis passes. How can we collaborate in ways that continue to make us stronger together? How do we garner community support to enhance our services to those in need? What conversations need to take place in order to strengthen the serve of each provider? Certainly, we have experienced the reality of Helen Kellers’ words – “together we can do so much.” May we use these lessons, these moments to work towards togetherness in the coming years.

Col. Kenneth Johnson is is National Chief Secretary of The Salvation Army and serves on the Board of Director of the National Human Services Assembly.