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Watertown Salvation Army announces program changes

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The Watertown Salvation Army is expanding programs to offer more free support services to clients and community members, effective Monday.

Lts. Zeb and Summer Hough said the move merely builds on the established foundation left by Capt. Evelyn M. Hopping, who left her Watertown post in June for Oneonta.

“We see a need in the population we serve,” Lt. Zeb Hough said. “They want more, and they want to know how to do more.”

The Watertown agency has more than 200 daily clients of all ages.

People who sign up for the agency’s voucher program, which helps clients obtain shoes, clothing and other personal items, now will have to complete an intake process.

Lt. Zeb Hough said an intake coordinator will collect client information, find out what people are at the agency for, and identify services they may qualify for through agency referrals.

The voucher program will be part of a six-month process to work with clients on how to make their lives more stable.

Changes also will occur with the soup kitchen, where a recreation component will be added two days a week to let visitors participate in leisure activities. The soup kitchen now is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

“With the recreation room, they could free up tables for people to eat, then come back later for seconds,” Lt. Zeb Hough said. “We’re just adding structure to it.”

Changes that most excite Lt. Summer Hough are youth program improvements. With the existing Supper Club, skill-building, recreation and a meal are offered each Thursday for children up to age 12. That soon will transform into Kids Club, to accommodate more children of various ages.

“So many kids turned 13, and there was no place for them to go,” Lt. Summer Hough said. “We wanted to keep them.”

On Tuesdays, the agency will host a children’s art night, with theater arts, visual arts and dance tracks. People interested in having their children attend should call the agency at 782-4470 to preregister each week.

Thursdays will remain Supper Club night, and Fridays will become Teen Night.

Lt. Zeb Hough said the Teen Night will involve a leadership program to help teenagers learn employment and financial management skills.

“We wanted to sit back for a while to see how things played out,” Lt. Summer Hough said.

“One of the reasons Tuesday is so important to me is I’m an artist. Growing up we were poor, but one generous family each year would give me a sketch pad. It was a staple for me, and I kind of want to get that to kids.”

The Watertown Salvation Army also will continue to educate its clients through a seminar series, offering pointers on parenting and how to cook, manage money and save energy, among other topics.

The first seminar will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the agency, 723 State St., where Maggie’s on the River General Manager Bernie Bernhardt will teach people how to make healthy and inexpensive meals.

Each program will be reviewed quarterly, with adjustments made accordingly.

The program overhaul was jump-started with a $4,000 grant the Salvation Army received from Stewart’s Holiday Match program.

Proceeds from the Watertown Salvation Army’s upcoming all-you-can-eat pancake and French toast breakfast, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 7 at the agency, will go toward program development.

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