Story and photo from the Fall 2013 issue of Inside Indiana

Santa Rodriguez cradled the air gun in her two hands carefully. She lifted it, took aim and fired at the small target. She missed, but with childlike excitement and determination she tried again. This time, she hit the target.

“I’m shaking. What a rush,” she said. “I’ve never fired anything.”

Like many children years younger, this was Santa’s first camp experience. She was first in line at each activity stop, ready to try something new and learn from the campers. And the line behind her — it was made up of Santa’s friends.

“They volunteer all the time for the Salvation Army, and I recently joined a sorority they belong to that does a lot for The Salvation Army,” Santa said. “They asked me to come with them on this trip to camp to see what good their volunteering does.”

The trip to The Salvation Army Hidden Falls Camp was part of a Tour of Hope, a program started last year. Each Tour of Hope is a different adventure showcasing the programs and facilities The Salvation Army provides for the community. It’s a way for volunteers, corporate partners, donors, employees and the curious to see and experience first-hand what their efforts do or could do.
In June, the Tour of Hope traveled to The Salvation Army Fountain Square Community Center, the Ruth Lilly Women and Children’s Center (Block of Hope) and the Indiana war Memorial for a glimpse at the Donut Girl exhibit. At each stop, people learned what programs the facilities housed. They also heard the personal stories and ways The Salvation Army helped the people that both visit and work at those facilities.

“Every time I get closer to The Salvation Army, I realize there is still so much that the Army does,” said Steve Gould, Brown County Advisory Board, at a recent tour. “Today it was women in crisis. I had no idea there was something like that.”

His wife attended the Tour of Hope as well. She was almost speechless.

“I wasn’t even aware that the women and children’s shelter was for women in distress,” Kim Brown said. “Wow! This has been mind opening. Very influential people should do it to get a flavor for what’s going on.”

Want to take the tour? Contact Crissy Quenichet at 317-224-1017.

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