The Salvation Army – California South Division: Doing the Most Good

The Salvation Army

Donald Friese, the CEO and Chairman of the Friese Foundation, has been a supporter of the Salvation Army – California South Division since 1993. The work and dedication of the Salvation Army aligns with the mission of the Friese Foundation, which is to partner with organizations that provide impactful and life-changing opportunities. Mr. Friese has often said that he is in the “business of people,” and he has put these words to action by supporting organizations that help low-income families, people who are homeless, veterans, and other communities in need. 

This is why the Friese Foundation was delighted to recently make a $300,000 donation to the Salvation Army – California South Division to support the organization’s many programs that benefit families, men, women, and children in need in the Los Angeles area.


The Salvation Army is an international Christian church and charitable organization whose roots date back to 1865. Minister William Booth left his church pulpit in London and took the Gospel directly to the people he felt needed to hear it the most: the homeless, hungry, and destitute. He soon realized that these people were not welcome in middle- and upper-class church congregations. So, he and his wife set up a ministry under the motto of “Soup, Soap, and Salvation.” While reviewing a printer’s proof of his ministry’s annual report, he noticed the phrase “volunteer army.” He crossed out “volunteer” and replaced it with “salvation,” and the organization’s current name was created.

The Salvation Army – California South Division is only a few decades younger than its parent organization. It was created in 1887, when an open-air meeting was held in the street on the corner of Temple and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Today, there is a plaque in the sidewalk to commemorate that historic day.

Now the Salvation Army’s California South Division has 48 locations across the Central Coast, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Inland Empire, and San Diego/Imperial Counties. The divisional headquarters are located in Long Beach and are overseen by Divisional Leader Lt. Colonel John Chamness and Lt. Colonel Lani Chamness, Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries.

Helping Those in Need Without Discrimination

Few other organizations in Southern California can match the Salvation Army in terms of the scope and reach of its programs.

The Salvation Army provides basic services and essentials such as food, rent, and utility assistance and case management. It also helps youth who are living in poverty, violence, or environments of drugs and crime, as well as those who are struggling at overcrowded and failing schools. In addition, the Salvation Army provides shelter and support for the homeless, offers programs for homeless veterans and people recovering from addiction, and provides basic healthcare and medical services to homeless and low-income individuals.

The Salvation Army also provides educational and skills training to people looking to regain control of their lives from addiction or substance abuse. Finally, it offers low-income senior housing and shelter as well as assistance in managing housing expenses, and responds to disasters by providing emergency relief and support.

Fighting Homelessness and Substance Abuse

Fighting homelessness is at the heart of the Salvation Army’s mission around the world and in Southern California, with several locations in the region dedicated to providing clean, stable, long-term and transitional housing.

There are also facilities that provide treatment programs for people with drug and alcohol addiction, known as the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs). ARCs provide long-term recovery programs for individuals battling addiction, with each participant offered a clean-living environment, food, counseling, work therapy assignments, recreational activities, and spiritual direction.

As well as five ARCs in Southern California—Bell Shelter in Bell, Hope Harbor in LA, Path to Prosperity in San Bernardino, and S.T.E.P.S. and CARS in San Diego—the Salvation Army also runs three state-certified addiction treatment programs.

Health Care, Human Services, and More

The Salvation Army operates three health service programs in Southern California: Alegria in LA, Bell Shelter in Bell, and Oxnard Clinic in Oxnard. These facilities provide free medical and dental care to the poor and uninsured. At the Oxnard Clinic, more than 200 patients are treated every month.

The Salvation Army also offers permanent and transitional supportive housing for people with HIV/AIDS and their families, while at the Bell Shelter, the Recuperative Care Unit offers post-hospitalization services for homeless people in need of additional care.

The California South Division is dedicated to helping veterans in need, particularly with housing and support services. There are six dedicated programs in Southern California which focus on assisting veterans and the many issues they face. As well as providing food and shelter, these locations offer assistance with substance abuse issues, mental health, and recovery.  

The Salvation Army is also on hand to provide disaster relief services in Southern California by assisting victims and first responders during and after disasters with food, water, shelter, and medical supplies.

Care for Seniors

Meanwhile, the senior citizens of Southern California are supported by the Salvation Army through programs designed to address their unique needs. The Silvercrest Senior Residences provide much-needed housing for low-income seniors. Residents only pay 30 percent of their income for housing, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) covers the rest.

Elsewhere, the Mindeman Senior Residence Center in Redondo Beach provides 49 one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors, while the Senior Nutrition program provides seniors with free and low-cost meals throughout San Diego County. There is also the Sage House Adult Day Care in San Pedro, which serves older adults who have Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious conditions.

By the Numbers

The remarkable work of The Salvation Army – California South Division is highlighted in its annual report. In total in 2019, the California South Division served 804,364 people. In addition, 87 cents of every dollar donated went toward programs and services. The impact of the individual programs and initiatives is also impressive:

  • more than 1.7 million meals served
  • over 260,000 gifts distributed
  • 413,000 nights of shelter provided
  • over 47,000 attendees of youth programs
  • 282,000 attending Sunday worship
  • 13,510 days of summer camps
  • 83,220 nights of shelter for veterans
  • over 875,000 volunteer hours