Skip to content

USO and The Salvation Army


MLK Day of Service: The Street Store

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty states that each year approximately 3.5 million unique individuals experience homelessness in America with 4,000 of those individuals right here in Chattanooga. 600-700 of these individuals find shelter outside, wherever they can seek refuge from the weather conditions (, 2017). The Salvation Army’s Recreate Cafe, looks to be a safe haven for the homeless by providing coffee, snacks, internet, mail services, bible studies, and much more during the day while other shelters are closed.

For the last three years, The Salvation Army has partnered with Southern Adventist University to host the “Street Store,”on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The Street Store acts like a “pop up store” which have become increasingly popular. A pop up store is a short retail event that is “here today, gone tomorrow” and strives to leave a lasting impression on its customers. The event is held on the sidewalk outside of The Recreate Cafe and the purpose is to provide the homeless community with a fun and dignified “shopping” experience. The volunteers from Southern Adventist set up the Street Store with donated clothing and signs and act as personal shopper for the “customers” or homeless individuals; guiding them through the shopping process and helping design outfits. Once the individual is finished shopping, complimentary lunch is served.


“The homeless look forward to this day, because it is not too often that they have     someone help them pick out the correct sizes, colors, and just have a fun time shopping with a friend,” said Kimberly George, Director of Development and Marketing.


Like many of the activities held at The Recreate Cafe, the purpose is for the homeless to have a day of fun; to feel normal when they are faced with so much adversity daily. This last MLK Day, we had the privilege of serving nearly 100 homeless community members. They enjoyed the shopping, soup and sandwiches, and a gospel choir from Southern Adventist University, as well. It was a great day full of love and service, as two different populations came together and enjoyed each other’s company. As the students t-shirts read and in the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Salvation Army Year End Review: Best Photos of 2016!

Thank you to our generous community for helping the Greater Chattanooga Salvation Army keep its promise of “Doing the Most Good for people in need with donors’ contributions of money, time and resources.” 

The Salvation Army offers social services to meet the emergency and disaster-related needs of our less fortunate neighbors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing spiritual outreach for all ages, offering character-building youth programs such as The School of Music and Arts, providing holiday assistance for families in need and much more.

This past year, The Salvation Army was fortunate enough to serve the community in a variety of ways. Our volunteer disaster response teams and staff answered the call to assist with food and pastoral care after the November tornadoes.  In partnership with the Nehemiah Project, students in eleven Chattanooga Title 1 schools received a backpack filled with school supplies.  Over 70 children were able to enjoy a week of fun, learning, and personal growth in a safe environment at our Camp Paradise Valley, located on Dale Hollow Lake in Kentucky.

In addition, The Chattanooga Salvation Army celebrated its 123st anniversary of life-changing ministry in our community this year!

Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016 were exciting opportunities to share the joy of the holidays.  Volunteers delivered over 600 meals to shut-ins on Thanksgiving Day.  Christmas was a wonderful opportunity to share the joy of Christ with 4,525 children and seniors who received gifts and food through our Angel Tree Program.  The Salvation Army and its volunteers also delivered Christmas gifts to low-income seniors, local nursing home residents and those incarcerated in our area.  On Christmas Eve, over 270 persons enjoyed a “Christmas Eve Brunch” and received backpacks filled with cold weather necessities and gifts at our ReCreate Café on McCallie Avenue.  Your prayers and financial support are the reasons we can share this exciting news!

=We are also excited by the prospect of new opportunities for ministry during 2017 because we are so encouraged by your faithfulness.  We hope the following photos will touch your hearts as they did ours, and affirm the great value of every coin and dollar you donated to our Red Kettles or through the mail this Christmas Season.  May our God richly bless you and your loved ones throughout this wonderful New Year!


The Inman Street Coffeehouse is a social ministry of The Salvation Army of Cleveland, TN. It sells its own brand of coffee, plus baked goods, shirts and other goodies to make money for The Salvation Army's youth programs.



In Cleveland, TN, The Salvation Army’s Inman Street Coffeehouse serves many functions. It’s a full-service coffeehouse, music venue, ministry center, hangout for young adults and the homeless, business opportunity for high school and early college interns and art space.

The Inman Coffeehouse is a social ministry of The Salvation Army of Cleveland, TN. It sells its own brand of coffee, plus baked goods, shirts and other goodies to make money for The Salvation Army’s youth programs.

“We call ourselves a social ministry of The Salvation Army,” said Manager Joel Rogers.  “We don’t have any of the traditional spaces for afterschool programs and engaging with students here, but we can accomplish the same end goals of building relationships with students with the coffeehouse.

“We’re raising awareness for the Salvation Army in the community, and we’re inviting participation in the Salvation Army’s mission in a way we haven’t been able to before.”

Joel and his wife, Cheryl, shared their coffeehouse ministry vision with The Salvation Army seven years ago. They met Sgt. Ruthie Forgey, who was in charge of building a Salvation Army corps in Cleveland, and told her their desire to reach youth and their experience doing that at a North Carolina coffeehouse.

After their meeting, they fell in love with The Salvation Army and began attending Bible studies and worship services. They didn’t begin working for The Salvation Army with the coffeehouse and as youth directors until two years later, once the Army had a building to call its own instead of borrowing spaces. The building was more than the corps needed, so it gave part of the space to create the coffeehouse.

“It’s great visibility,” Rogers said. “Right downtown, within a mile of Lee University and within a couple miles of both of the bigger local high schools. At that point we knew God opened this door for us; there’s no other explanation for it.


“We have a full line-up of coffee drinks,” Rogers said. “We serve all the classics: cappuccinos, mochas, lattes. We also have frappuccinos, though we call them freezes.  We have coffees, teas, smoothies and Italian sodas. We’ve got baked goods that are baked in house.

The coffeehouse is Cleveland's main music venue. It hosts open mic nights, concerts, spoken word performances and more.
The coffeehouse is Cleveland’s main music venue. It hosts open mic nights, concerts, spoken word performances and more.

“We have some things we’re really known for that nobody else does. Our best-selling drink is the Black Tie Affair. It’s a mix of chocolate and vanilla chai, a shot of espresso and steamed milk. We can also do it frozen.”

Currently, as at other coffee shops everywhere, the pumpkin spice latte is wildly popular. (“Every young, college age female within a 100-mile radius, when we announced the pumpkin spice latte was back, lined up that day!”) Other fall drinks are an all-natural version of that, caramel apple cider, pumpkin white cocoa, The Great Pumpkin latte (white mocha with pumpkin), pumpkin spice chai, Cinnabun chai, a pumpkin smoothie and butterbeer and s’mores freezes.

The coffeehouse also does a lot of customizing, with lactose and sugar free versions of almost everything, which it does not charge more for because it’s not customers’ fault they have medical issues, Rogers said. The goal is to be mindful and help people make better choices.

The shop also allows people make better choices for the world. It has coffee from around the globe that it gets from a roaster in Minneapolis, who does direct trade, which is a step above fair trade. This takes out the coffee trader middleman. The roaster travels to farms directly, which gives about 10 times more money than the regular $1.25 per pound income to the coffee laborers.

Current seasonal drinks include pumpkin spice lattes and chai, The Great Pumpkin latte, white pumpkin cocoa and caramel apple cider.
Current seasonal drinks include pumpkin spice lattes and chai, The Great Pumpkin latte, white pumpkin cocoa and caramel apple cider.

“If we can really change someone’s life around the world, I think that’s a mission the Salvation Army really gets behind,” Rogers said. “We were passionate about this from day one: we never want to serve a coffee that may be more cost-effective for us but takes advantage of someone in poverty on a different part of the globe.”

The drinks get patrons in the shop. After that, the staff uses the opportunity to tell people about The Salvation Army and the good it does. Some people come away as supporters, going on to contribute financially and/or physically to other Salvation Army endeavors. Some, though, come away as more and enroll asSalvation Army soldiers, with some of those going on to becomeSalvation Army officers.

“We see ourselves as the missionaries of The Salvation Army into a whole new populace,” Rogers said. “High school and college kids have no idea what The Salvation Army stands for or that their desire to be part of a movement that’s seeking justice in the world could actually be satisfied by an organization that’s old and has issues staying in touch with the younger generation. When they hear what all the Salvation Army does, they’re blown away.”


Besides coffee, music brings a lot of people to the coffeehouse. It has hosted more than 400 shows, some of which even move from the coffeehouse space into the corps’ worship center to accommodate more fans.

The Giant and The Tailor won Inman Street's 2014 Band of the Year. In October, the group is one of the musical acts at Phoenix Fest, a music festival the coffeehouse created this year.
The Giant and The Tailor won Inman Street’s 2014 Band of the Year. In October, the group is one of the musical acts at Phoenix Fest, a music festival the coffeehouse created this year.

“We asked a band to come and play for our grand opening. Because they had such a following, we had more than 100 people crammed in, so we decided to do it again. We’re the only true music venue in Cleveland. We have shows nearly every Friday and Saturday, hosting local and national touring acts.”

A big part of the music is open mic nights. One popular local band that has gone on to become a touring act got its start at an open mic. The Giant and The Tailor didn’t win that night and almost quit but came back a month later and has played ever since. Now, the band has awards, nominations and an EP in the iTunes International Rock Chart Top 50.

The Salvation Army uses the open mics to raise funds for its youth programs and summer camp scholarships. People vote for the bands they like with money, which goes to The Salvation Army for that. The open mics regularly collect $150 or $200, Rogers said.

“They give people a chance to participate in the vision. It’s a place for them to sponsor our mission in a real, tangible way.”

The coffeehouse also hosted “American Idol” season 14 runner-up Clark Beckham before and after “Idol.” It was the first place outside of church the former Lee University student played in his career. He returned for last year’s anniversary concert and will perform in this year’s, which has become a music festival, in October.

Phoenix Fest, so named because of the phoenix in the Inman Street Coffeehouse logo (“We see this as a place where people can rise from the ashes of the things they’ve been through and really become something new and different because of Christ and this place.”), runs Friday, Oct. 21 from 5 p.m. through Saturday, Oct. 22. It will have two national headliners each night, plus 15 local bands.

“We’re super excited about it!”

It will also include student testimonials and local Salvation Army officers discussing programs during music breaks, plus several awards, including Coffeehouse Volunteer of the Year and Band of the Year. Coffeehouse interns will be on hand selling concessions.


The 16 interns are high school and early college students who have been recommended by teachers or leaders in their lives as students with a lot of leadership potential who haven’t had a chance to learn life or job skills. During their internship, they will serve at least 350 service hours in three different customer service settings (office, retail and food service), plus find a need in the community that speaks to them and meet it.

Friends enjoy a game of tic-tac-toe and their drinks at the coffee shop.
Friends enjoy a game of tic-tac-toe and their drinks at the coffee shop.

“The internship program is really the hinge pin of our program,” Rogers said. “It’s this super cool way to use the coffee shop as a conduit for helping others. The coffee shop gives them a tangible way to learn in a safe environment, so when they go out, they’re actually more equipped, more hirable. They can get more than an entry-level job because of their experience. Plus, they have an awareness of the Salvation Army they’ve never had before.”

Students who come to the coffeehouse, either to work or as a customer, meet Cleveland’s homeless. Sometimes the two groups just talk, but sometimes they share a board game or other activity.

“Here, everyone is given their fair shake at being part of the community; it doesn’t matter what socioeconomic level. We’re not a homeless outreach or a college outreach; we’re both. Because of that, it’s this really unique dynamic.”

In the future, The Salvation Army hopes to expand this dynamic to other places with the coffeehouse. Rogers said they’re looking at a potential second location in Cleveland, and they plan to eventually expand the mission and the vision of the coffeehouse to other towns.

A Mile Down the Road

How a Summer job with The Salvation Army changed one teen’s perspective.  


By: Christopher George

A mile down Chattanooga’s Dodds Avenue from the McCallie School lies an entirely different world known as East Lake. At McCallie, we worry about the next advanced placement U.S. history test or whether we’ll win the football game this week; At East Lake they worry about the next shooting in their neighborhood or if they’ll make it through the next paycheck. In my summer as a lifeguard for The Salvation Army in the projects, I was humbled, amazed and shocked by the way the kids’ lives are so different from mine.

I took the lifeguarding job to make money and avoid getting a “real job” working at a restaurant, doing lawn care or working at a Lake Winnepesaukah booth. I didn’t know I was signing up for a summer that would completely change the way that I see life, people, society and the McCallie community.

One morning, a little boy came to the gates as I was opening the pool and walked up to me. His name was Carlos, and he was 4 years old. He didn’t know where his parents were, but he assured me that his siblings were looking after him. I thought I’d look after him as well. As life would have it, he and I became best friends. I thought that I was being a good influence on him and that he needed a big brother figure.east-lake-pool-christopher

Little did I know that he would impact my life more than I could ever impact his. Every morning he would walk across the street to The Salvation Army, and every morning he would jump on me with a huge grin and an infectious laugh! I used to complain about the littlest things, but I realized Carlos never once complained to me, nor did he ever break his joyful smile. I began counting my blessings and starting every day with a smile, no matter how the last one went. I never thought that I would be given life-altering advice from someone who was in kindergarten.

In his unknowing intelligence, Carlos taught me selflessness at its core. Being 4 years old, all Carlos wanted to do was swim, eat snacks, color and play games, but one time while running around hyped up on sugar, Carlos stopped in his tracks and looked at me. I noticed that a little girl was playing air hockey by herself. Carlos immediately began playing with her. When I asked him about it he said, “She looked lonely, so I wanted to play with her.” His response helped me realize that kids don’t see people as different, but they see them as solely individual people. We need to be like children in the way we see people.

At McCallie, we try to isolate ourselves from the community around us by saying that we are “outside of the ghetto,” because that community is poor, lower class and plagued with violence. We need to adopt Carlos’ perspective that when we see a person in need of help, we help them no matter what their race, gender or socioeconomic class may be.

Carlos and I became almost brothers by the end of the summer; we were brothers living in two different worlds. As I sat down to eat lunch one day, I was scrolling through Twitter just like normal, nothing special, but I read an article about all the gang shootings that had happened throughout this summer in Chattanooga. Young men were being shot and killed on the streets far too often. The only thing that was running through my mind was that Carlos will have to grow up in that environment; he or his brothers might get caught up in that violence. The thought devastated me.

I started thinking about how naive I was growing up in the suburbs of Chattanooga, not knowing anything of violence. I thought about how Carlos’s eyes are so wide open at such a young age, and that he can’t escape that kind of situation. And I couldn’t help but to think about McCallie. It has been a cornerstone of my development as a man, so I thought about what McCallie could do for that entire community. I thought that McCallie’s young men should be going to The Salvation Army to be big brothers to the kids. I still believe those kids have a lot to teach us, just as we can teach them about life.

So this summer was not one of uneventful binge-watching Netflix, and this summer job was certainly not just for the money. I learned more than I could have ever fathomed in the three short months as a lifeguard by just being there with kids like Carlos. Through interactions with the kids, I learned how just a mile down the road is a whole new world very unfamiliar with my own.

%d bloggers like this: