Greenville’s Resurgence

While Greenville may be in the midst of an award-winning resurgence, The Salvation Army can take pride knowing it has walked alongside the city for more than a century. by Liza P. Jones

While many are discovering the award-winning town of Greenville, SC for the first time, The Salvation Army has had a presence in Greenville for the past 119 years. The organization operated from a tent structure in 1904, located at the intersection of Brown and Washington Streets in the heart of downtown. There, The Salvation Army would offer a religious message and good music to all who were willing to listen. After years of migrating from location to location, the Army’s first permanent home was completed. Mr. C. E. Graham donated the lot the building stood on, which took on the name “Citadel.”

The Salvation Army continued to walk alongside Greenville as it grew. In 1908, The Salvation Army Women’s Social Services Department opened the Shelter for Homeless Women and Maternity Home. In 1917, The Salvation Army assumed operation of the Bruner Home, which was a home for orphaned and abandoned children. The Emma Moss Booth Memorial Hospital was opened and began operating as one of the main city hospitals, which was the predecessor to what is now one of the largest healthcare providers in the region, the Bon Secours St. Francis Health System. 

By 1938, The Salvation Army Red Shield Boys Club was formed with the aid of Mr. P. D. Meadors, a local candy manufacturer. The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club (formerly The Salvation Army Red Shield Boys Club) began the Community Camping Program, which offered a healthy outdoor experience in a summer camp setting.

“For those just starting to learn about Greenville and all of the amazing things it has to offer as a tourist destination, I think it’s important to share the rich history The Salvation Army has had here for so many years,” said Major Andrew Kelly, area commander of The Salvation Army of Greenville. “Our story is interwoven into the city’s growth journey. As the area grew, so did the needs of those we were called to serve.” 

The Salvation Army Area Command continued to meet the needs of Greenville’s most vulnerable neighbors throughout the 20th century. In 1984, its homeless shelter was re-established to meet the needs of the growing population. By the 1990s, The Salvation Army expanded its reach with service centers into neighboring Oconee and Pickens counties, as well as opened a new dining facility and updated shelter facilities for men, women and children experiencing homelessness. 

Perhaps one of The Salvation Army’s biggest contributions to the community, however, was its work with the city and community to help secure $15 million to fund the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in 2005, one of only 26 such locations across the US. The Kroc Center provides a state-of-the-art fitness and tennis facility to members, classes and camps throughout the year, and offers sports and recreation opportunities to youth and adults. 

The Salvation Army’s rich history in Greenville was recently on display at the Upcountry History Museum. The exhibit, which was in place for five months, featured artifacts, photographs and first-hand accounts about the work the Army has contributed to the community since 1904. The opportunity to be included in the Upcountry History Museum also increased donor and community engagement through special events held in the space, museum ticket giveaways and local media coverage. 

“The exhibit at the Upcountry History Museum was a unique way for us to invite our donors and community partners to learn firsthand about our mission work in Greenville for more than 100 years,” said Major Kelly. “Museum guests were able to read, touch, feel and experience our lasting legacy here.”

Today, The Salvation Army of Greenville continues to serve the least and the lost in the name of Jesus Christ. Last year alone, the organization provided more than 73,080 meals to those experiencing food insecurity; provided individuals with more than 24,360 nights of shelter; and distributed $255,169 in rent and utilities assistance for people in need. 

In addition, The Salvation Army provides afterschool and summer enrichment programming to hundreds of school-aged children through its Boys & Girls Club, offers workforce development and disaster relief support through the operation of its four Family Stores across the region and hosts weekly worship services and Bible studies for anyone to attend. 

While Greenville may be in the midst of an award-winning resurgence, The Salvation Army can take pride knowing it has walked alongside the city for more than a century. It is ingrained in the community as a critical part of the support network, and it will continue to serve those who need it most, when they need it most, for years to come. 

Article provided by Liza P. Jones

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