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Recent Disaster Responses/ Jeff Jellets

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
June 11, 2023 1:17 am

Recent Disaster Responses/ Jeff Jellets

Words of Life / Salvation Army

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June 11, 2023 1:17 am

In this episode we continue to learn about The Salvation Army’s Disaster Response. Bobbi Geery shares stories of more recent events The Army has responded to and we hear an interview from Jeff Jellets, the Territorial Disaster Coordinator for the USA Southern Territory.


Series: Emergency Disaster Services

Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Words of Life
Salvation Army
Words of Life
Salvation Army
Words of Life
Salvation Army
Words of Life
Salvation Army

Hi, this is Bernie Dake. You're listening to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. All over the Gulf Coast calling Hurricane Katrina their own tsunami. It is a total catastrophic disaster.

A region that's been utterly devastated. Our response is generous and the need is overwhelming. The president is now touring one of the Salvation Army centers that have been set up to try and distribute relief. Just have the Salvation Army truck. The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army. Thank God for the Salvation Army.

Organizations like the Salvation Army would be taking care of them. The Army's mission is to serve the people who need our help and to preach the gospel of Christ. Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Cheryl Gillum.

And I'm Bernie Dake. Last week, we began our series on disaster response with Bobbie Geary, and we're so glad you're in the studio with us again today. You've given us a little bit of the history of disaster services within the Salvation Army and an overview of how it works. And now we're going to get into some more specific questions for you today.

Yeah, Bobbie, right out of the gate. First of all, I'm jealous because what you guys do is the frontline ministry of the Salvation Army. Our listeners may not understand really how we respond or when we respond. Could you kind of help us zero in on the types of response that we do or even specific responses? Sure.

I'd be happy to. One of the things that we respond to, of course, are those major natural disasters. Things like hurricanes, you know, the southeastern area, the southern territory. We have more coastline, I guess, that could be impacted by hurricanes than anywhere else in the United States. So hurricanes, tornadoes.

Imagine, you know, Oklahoma all the way over to Georgia where we're constantly battling those tornadoes. And beyond just natural disasters like those or floods or things like that, we also respond to things like domestic terrorist situations. 9-11 was one of those. We responded both at the Pentagon and in New York City back in 2001. Other things we might also respond to would be things like most recently the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 in Orlando.

And then we also responded last year to the Uvalde school shooting. Sometimes people don't even know that we're there because, you know, our presence, you know, we want to stay out of the limelight. It doesn't have to be about us, but we want to be there and offer that ministry of care to people in need after those devastating events, especially our first responders. Part of our mission statement for the Salvation Army is to meet human need in Jesus' name. I don't think that anybody would ever characterize Jesus as someone who bragged about his ministry. And we don't do that either.

We just go and trust that the Lord will provide. And he's done that. He's given us exposure amongst the public who support us so philanthropically or so generously through their philanthropy. But it's because we keep showing up. Last week you told us that it really is a ministry of presence.

And that's a pretty neat thing. Now, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the disaster response at 9-11 at the Pentagon. And we were living in Springfield, Virginia. I was attending church in Arlington at a Salvation Army, which was the actual closest physical property to where the plane had flown into the Pentagon. And I'm amazed at how you all coordinate all of those volunteers. It is an incredible feat, and you guys are to be praised. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been a travesty of human hatred that has brought our world community together. It has shown us the power of human compassion and the need that we have as people for one another. The whole time there were people handing things out.

We really didn't know where it was coming from. We just were glad to get it. The Salvation Army was there making hot food for all the relief workers.

The first time I walked into the dome, the bubble, I was just stunned at what I saw. You know, the setup that they had and the food was fantastic. Folks in those canteens couldn't do enough for you. You know, what do you need? What can we get for you?

If we don't have it here, we'll try to figure out where we can get it. The counselors that were there, they let us know that they were available to talk or even to pray. Everything that was being done by the Salvation Army and the Salvationists was done to help the rescue workers do their job. Bobbi, do people ever reach out to us after a disaster and tell us, you know, thank you or how something might have impacted them?

Yeah, actually they do. And if you don't mind, I'd like to just share a little excerpt from a letter that was sent to the Divisional Disaster Director of Florida Division after the Pulse Nightclub shooting about our response there. And this letter starts by just praising a couple of the individuals that were serving.

And then this is the statement that one of the onsite investigators came up and shared. He said, you will never know the impact that the Salvation Army made on me personally. Sorry, you might see me get a little emotional with this.

It's okay. As I was working in the building, when taking breaks from the awful task that I had to do when coming over to grab a bite or a drink and just to sit and chat with your people, I could not have done my job without your folks there supporting me. From my heart, I cannot even put into words how having you there made my job possible.

So on behalf of the Tampa, Orlando Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, thank you for the role you played in working alongside them during this terrible time. Wow. That's amazing. It is. Well, we're now going to share an interview we did several years ago with Jeff Jelitz, who is your boss.

That's right. He is my boss. He is the Emergency Disaster Coordinator for the Salvation Army in the Southern Territory. We hope that you'll enjoy this. Well, it is a pleasure to welcome someone that I've had the privilege to work with specifically in the Salvation Army's Disaster Services area. His name is Jeff Jelitz, and I want to welcome you to Wonderful Words of Life. Thank you, Bernie.

It's good to be here. I want you to tell people a little bit about what you do for the Salvation Army. Well, I am the Territorial Disaster Coordinator, which means that I manage our Emergency Disaster Services program.

I cover the entire southeast, so that means I work with the accident-prone portion of the country. We have everything from hurricanes to tornadoes to floods, and we even got some earthquake zones. The Salvation Army back in World War II was known for their doughnut girls. We had a response in wartime where we were just feeding soldiers, helping them write letters home and doing whatever we could to play a part in getting them home safely, and that really endeared us to that generation.

But we don't have that same sort of doughnut girl approach anymore. But the Salvation Army's new doughnut is Disaster Services, and I think that's incredible for me to say because you guys respond in so many different ways. Give us some examples of how the Salvation Army can help in a disaster situation. The first thing we do on a disaster is we show up, we provide food, a cup of cold water, and then the next step is usually emotional and spiritual care. You can imagine how traumatic a disaster event is, and to kind of provide that emotional and spiritual comfort to survivors and rescue workers is pretty dramatic. In fact, when we've talked to folks after a disaster, we always think that the most important thing we did was provide this type of service or that type of service.

Most of them say, you listened to me when I was really in a bad place, and that just meant the world to me. What I love about the Salvation Army is there's not a lot of questions that get asked when a response needs to happen. A Corps officer, a Salvation Army pastor, or someone who's entrusted with those resources can make a decision immediately when something happens in their local community. Then they can call back to our different headquarters and begin a response that has so many different layers. Jeff and his staff do a great job of training and equipping people all throughout the Southeast in those responses.

I again just say, man, thank you, Jeff, because you do such great work. How long have we been around? How long has the Salvation Army been doing this? The amazing thing is our first disaster was over 100 years ago. It was in 1900 to the great Galveston hurricane. At the time, the national commander saw this massive hurricane that destroyed that city. Some estimates placed the casualty rate at about 8,000 people. He ordered Salvationists from around the nation to go to Galveston and provide whatever practical and spiritual care they could.

That's where we've got our start. Since then, the Salvation Army has been involved in just about every major disaster you can think of, not just here in the United States, but all over the world. Some of the biggest Salvation Army disaster relief operations occurred, for example, in Haiti after the earthquake. There was a recent cyclone a couple of months back in Australia where the Salvation Army responded.

Certainly here in the United States, it's not just natural disasters. We did a huge amount of work during 9-11 in New York at the Pentagon. More recently, if you remember the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida, the Salvation Army was there ministering not just to survivors, but also the rescue workers that were going into that club. One of the most tragic stories I remember from that, one of our disaster workers was working with a FBI agent. He kept coming to the canteen and he said, you know what really gets me? He said, when I walk into that club, I can hear the cell phones going off of people who are never going to return those phone calls.

He said, you being here, just listening to us, providing that cold cup of water, that comfort that we're not alone in this, really helps keep me going. There's so many stories like that. 9-11, I was living in Washington, D.C. at the time, and I still remember a Salvation Army officer jumped in his canteen, drove it immediately to the Pentagon, and was serving inside the fence line that they put up. Then we served for months after that in response to people. Just recently, I was on a band trip in New Orleans.

A woman came up to us as we were playing at the outside ministry concert, what we call an open air. She wanted to tell the band that the Salvation Army was here when she was wiped out from Katrina. Long after the cameras went away, the Salvation Army was still there and is still there serving in that community. That's the great thing about our disaster program. People ask me, well, how does the Salvation Army get to a disaster site?

Well, the truth is, we're already there. We minister to those communities every single day before the disaster. When the disaster occurs, yeah, we ramp up some additional resources.

But we don't disappear after it's over. We're going to stay in those communities long after the event is finished and continue to provide essential services. If we wanted to learn more or if there was someone out there that maybe wanted to donate to the Salvation Army specifically with disaster services, how can we do that? The easiest way is to go to our website, You can volunteer through that site. You can sign up for breaking news bulletins about where the Salvation Army is responding. And you can access a whole bunch of different features if you want to make a donation.

There's also information there as well. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit to offer your support. And we'd love to hear from you. Call 1-800-229-9965 or visit to connect.

Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or your testimony. With your permission, we would love to use your story on the show. You can also subscribe to Words of Life on your favorite podcast store. Or visit to learn about more programs produced by the Salvation Army. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. Join us next time for the Salvation Army's Words of Life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-11 02:30:46 / 2023-06-11 02:36:18 / 6

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