Pictured above: Representatives of The Salvation Army and Alton Memorial Hospital gathered outside the AMH ambulance bay on Dec. 21 as the hospital donated one of its ambulances to the Alton Corps Community Center. Left to right are Kristen Ryrie, AMH Development manager; Jason Bowman, AMH EMS manager; Kevin Botterbush of the Salvation Army advisory board; Brad Goacher, chief operations officer of AMH; LaKeysha Field, assistant divisional director of Social Services for The Salvation Army Midland Division; Capt. Cassy Grey and Capt. Sean Grey of the Alton Corps Community Center; Maj. Kjell Steinsland, general secretary and St. Louis regional commander of The Salvation Army’s Midland divisional headquarters; Dave Braasch, AMH president; and Rusty Ingram, director of Business Development at AMH.
Changes to the operation model of The Salvation Army’s Alton Corps Community Center has created a need for a mobile meeting space. Alton Memorial Hospital has stepped up by donating one of its out-of-service ambulances to the cause.
The keys were handed over just a few days before Christmas by BJC and Alton Memorial to The Salvation Army – a timely holiday gift for the organization.
“The Alton Booth House emergency shelter recently transitioned from its traditional model to a scattered site housing model,” said Maj. Kjell Steinsland, general secretary and St. Louis regional commander of The Salvation Army’s Midland divisional headquarters. “This improved program plan uses scattered housing sites throughout the community rather than the two buildings currently being used. We need a vehicle due to the housing model no longer being onsite. Transportation is a barrier for families, so their meetings with our staff cannot solely take place at our administrative offices. To reduce the burden on the families, our team will come to them to conduct their meetings.”
Families occupy mainly motel or hotel rooms that do not meet The Salvation Army’s internal safety protocols for conducting case management meetings. For the safety of all individuals, The Salvation Army has chosen to provide a mobile case management unit. This allows a continuance of services at multiple sites but with the same safety and resources that administrative offices would normally provide.
“We did not specifically request an ambulance, but when our local board spoke with members of the Alton community, some of their connections with the hospital led to this as a viable option,” Maj. Steinsland said.
Kristen Ryrie, Development manager for Alton Memorial Hospital Services Foundation, is on The Salvation Army Advisory Board and was at a meeting when the topic came up.
“I knew we were retiring a Duck Pluckers ambulance we purchased years ago thanks to the generosity of donors who supported the Foundation’s Duck Pluckers Ball,” Ryrie said. “Our leaders were enthusiastic about helping, and the donation of the ambulance was approved very quickly. This ambulance is getting a second life and will continue to benefit those in the community by playing a key role in The Salvation Army’s mission.”
“It’s great to assist such a worthy community partner,” said Brad Goacher, chief operating officer at Alton Memorial. “When we heard of the need for a mobile unit, our thoughts immediately went to one of our ambulances as a perfect option for The Salvation Army.”
Maj. Steinsland said that, without this unit, The Salvation Army would continue to struggle with locating safe meeting spaces that did not put undue burden on families.
“An ambulance is much like our disaster canteen units and can comfortably fit more than one person,” he said. “It can be outfitted for case management meetings while providing privacy, confidentiality, as well as transparency. We greatly appreciate Alton Memorial’s investment in the stability of our unhoused neighbors. It truly takes a community to meet all of the need, and this gift allows us to continue to help families reach stability and thrive."
Pictured above: Brad Goacher, COO of Alton Memorial Hospital, hands over the title of the ambulance to Maj. Kjell Steinsland of The Salvation Army.