Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Portrait of Ronald Whitman

Policeman’s eyes opened by Salvation Army’s work

Added on Friday, December 14, 2018

In his 31 years of service as a St. Paul police officer, Ronald Whitman saw firsthand the impact The Salvation Army made in the lives of at-risk youth and women fleeing from scenes of domestic violence.

Whitman spent years working alongside The Salvation Army to find a safe place for youth and women in dangerous circumstances. The longer he served, the more he witnessed The Salvation Army stepping up and standing in the gap for these vulnerable individuals.

“It seemed that (The Salvation Army) was used increasingly more often by the police department,” Whitman said.

Booth Brown House exteriorHe often transported at-risk kids to The Salvation Army’s Booth Brown House youth shelter and housing facility in St. Paul (pictured). Seeing the need for safe housing and shelter for youth greatly influenced Whitman’s perspective on youth who were struggling with mental illness, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, and other hardships resulting from the hopelessness of living on the streets.

“Booth Brown House provided a safe haven,” Whitman said. “It provided a temporary shelter in a time when maybe no one else was. I was impressed by that.”

Prior to his work as a police officer, his knowledge of The Salvation Army was limited.

“I knew they were a faith-based charity working to help people help themselves,” Whitman shared.

The need is still great

Whitman left his patrol work “on the streets” in 1996, but he knows that youth homelessness remains a big problem in the Twin Cities and throughout the United States.

A groundbreaking report on youth homelessness in the United States by Chapin Hall of the University of Chicago reported that 1 of every 10 young adults (ages 18-25) and 1 of every 30 adolescent minors (ages 13-17) endures some form of homelessness. And in Minnesota alone, more than 6,000 youth are homeless on any given night.

“The need hasn’t gone away,” Whitman said. “The need isn’t going to go away.”

Booth Brown House helps fill the need by not only providing housing and shelter, but by providing individual care and support from Salvation Army case managers.

Booth Brown House residentCase managers empower youth by encouraging them to set and reach goals, advocating on their behalf, and helping them transition into a successful, stable state of living.

Recently, our case managers helped a young Booth Brown House resident named Megan plot a new course for her life (read Megan’s story).

“The caseworkers here are teaching me to be responsible,” Megan said. “I am learning how to balance things. The best part about Booth Brown is that it allows you to focus on what you want to do. When you’re homeless, you can’t do that.”

Need unaffected by tax laws

In the wake of new tax law changes, Whitman wanted to encourage his fellow citizens in the Twin Cities to continue to give to The Salvation Army’s transformational programs, like Booth Brown House.

Under the new tax laws, it is harder for many individuals and families to claim deductions for charitable contributions. With a higher standard deduction, people may be less likely to make charitable donations because there would be no tax benefit for them to do so.

Booth Brown House shelterWhitmas is a longtime financial supporter of The Salvation Army. Although he is now retired and can no longer step in personally to help homeless youth, he trusts The Salvation Army to continue helping them find their footing and move toward a life of stability.

“Whether I can deduct (my gift) or not, I’m going to continue to give to my chosen charities, like The Salvation Army,” Whitman said.

Poverty is an everyday battle that families don’t always win. Thankfully, there is an army of loving people like you who fight on their behalf. Your generosity puts food on their table, presents under their tree, and joy in their hearts. Join the fight for good by donating online or at a red kettle, becoming a volunteer bell ringer, or recruiting your own army of fundraisers at Learn more about how The Salvation Army fights poverty in your community.