First anniversary for a Salvos Store with a difference
By LAUREN MARTIN
With great excitement, Engadine Salvos Stores, in Sydney’s south, marked its first birthday recently, with Salvos from the store and the local corps coming together to celebrate and bless the local community.
There was a buzz throughout the store that spilled out onto the street, with a Salvos coffee cart serving free coffee, kids being gifted lolly bags in-store and free doughnuts thanks to a generous donation from Woolworths in nearby Menai.
The store in the heart of Engadine’s main street has been a popular shopping and community hub since it opened in 2022. Many shoppers are regulars and are known by volunteers, staff and Engadine Salvos Stores’ very own Salvation Army Mission Leader.
Chez Wilson is a qualified caseworker who operates out of the Engadine Salvos Store to assist people in the community. Her role is to fulfil The Salvation Army’s four mission pillars – building healthy communities, working for justice, caring for people, and creating faith pathways. Over this past year, she has built relationships with volunteers, staff and customers at the store and in the local community with other not-for-profit organisations, local churches and businesses.
“I see myself as a link between what The Salvation Army can offer as well as helping locals connect with other supports in the community. This could look like someone who is lonely coming in for a chat and a cup of coffee, someone who is in need of prayer, a new mum to the community looking for a playgroup or other women to connect with, or someone in addiction or escaping an abusive relationship, homeless or in need of financial assistance.
“My role is to meet people where they are at, listen and respond to their need and connect them with the right help and supports either in the local community or in the wider LGA as appropriate.”
Salvos Stores are integral to The Salvation Army’s work in Australia. They provide Australians with low-cost, quality second-hand clothing and household items and stop thousands of tonnes of unwanted goods from going to landfill. All profits from Salvos Stores go directly towards funding the mission work of The Salvation Army, such as assisting people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, poverty, and those rebuilding after natural disasters.
They are also often the first point of contact that community members have with The Salvation Army.
Mark Soper heads up The Salvation Army’s work across the Sutherland Shire in southern Sydney and says it makes sense to place a Mission Leader like Chez within a Salvos Store: “Our vision was to have a Salvation Army Mission Leader in every Salvation Army expression across the Sutherland Shire.”
“We want people to know that wherever they see The Salvation Army red shield, they can find someone who can assist them with whatever hardship they may be facing. That assistance may be in the form of a referral to another Salvation Army or different partnering agency, it may be just that they need a listening ear and someone to support them, or we might be able to help them with food and other emergency assistance.”
Salvation Army mission leaders are also situated at the Panania Salvos Store, Sutherland Salvos Store and Helensburgh Salvos Store. There is also a Mission Leader located at Shire Salvos Miranda and Shire Salvos Menai.