Volunteer serves during hostage situation
Written by Sangeetha Gummadi, Donor Relations Director for The Salvation Army Northern Division
It was Friday, April 13 at 8:30 p.m. I received a phone call from a Salvation Army disaster official, inviting me to serve food and drinks to law enforcement officials at a S.W.A.T. call-out. There was a hostage situation.
The temperature was dropping and snow was falling. It would snow 15.5 inches by the end of the following day.
By the time we pulled up to the scene in our Salvation Army mobile kitchen, the police officers in Maplewood, Minn. had already been working for four hours and had run out of water. Also present were firefighters, military personnel, and other first responders. Upon seeing that The Salvation Army had arrived, everybody was relieved. Immediately we began to serve food and drinks.
Leading our charge was Jim Daly, a longtime Salvation Army disaster services volunteer. He is a retired officer with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department. He brought calm and leadership to chaotic circumstances. He also brought humor, keeping us working hard and happy through the long hours. Jim consistently goes above and beyond for The Salvation Army and for his community. (Read more about Jim.)
That night, with every hour that passed, I learned more and more that Salvation Army disaster volunteers are a great example of what sacrifice and service look like. For more than 6 hours our small crew of volunteers served nearly 80 police officers and first responders, until their job was complete. The officers and first responders exhibited the same degree of sacrifice and more, dropping what they were doing and risking their lives to serve all night long.
As I recount the experience, I’m overwhelmed by the feeling of gratitude that was expressed by those we served. They treated us like royalty. To them we represented respite, love, warmth, and caring during the blizzard and emergency. This spoke to the strength of The Salvation Army’s relationship with these agencies. It takes strong leadership, partnerships and respect to function well in these high-stress situations.
I will never forget this experience. Knowing that these officers had been working tirelessly, in the cold, with limited food and water, under a high-stress circumstance, was a reminder of how powerful The Salvation Army’s presence can be. Coffee, hot dogs, snacks, and prayer may seem like small things, but they are powerful.
Salvation Army disaster teams serve during natural disasters, transportation accidents, situations of civil unrest, and other emergencies. Learn more about becoming a Salvation Army disaster volunteer.
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