Keeping Women Safe From Predators: Doing The Most Good

Doing the Most Good: Keeping Women Safe From Predators

Captains Samuel and Christine Kim--Pastors with The Salvation Army

Captains Samuel and Christine Kim--Pastors with The Salvation Army

Women and children are the fastest growing groups of homeless citizens in the United States. *

Many of these are single-parent families, headed by the mother.   These women have been victims of poverty, violence, abuse, divorce, and lack of affordable housing. 

In more recent days, they are subjected to sexual harassment within their own homes.  Women who are barely scraping by or leaving domestic violence are seen as “easy targets,” especially women who cannot speak English and who are undocumented.  (BBC)

Captain Christine Kim of The Salvation Army reports that these families even live in cars for a time.  Mothers with children have a very difficult time breaking the cycle of poverty they’ve fallen prey to.  They must provide a home, childcare, food, healthcare and work at the same time.

Census Bureau information (2015) shows that “effective anti-poverty programs….lift millions out of poverty.”

Historically, churches led the battle against poverty, helping those in need within their own communities.  The Salvation Army, a Protestant denomination, assists homeless women and children on the Treasure Coast.  Their shelter, Compassion House, in Stuart, Florida is one of very few shelters in a tri-county area (Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee) keeping them safe from predators.

The Salvation Army on the Treasure Coast falls under the leadership of Pastor/Captain Samuel Kim and his co-Pastor and wife, Captain Christine Kim.

Pastor Samuel served in the South Korean Army where military service is a requirement for all males.  He is a graduate of Korea Baptist University/Seminary (M. Div).

Pastor Christine has a B.A. in Social Welfare from Korea Baptist University and worked in her home country as a social worker.  She also holds a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University.

While studying in South Korea, the Kims worked and saved to open their own church in Seoul.  But God had other plans--that they go to the United States for more education.  They arrived at Lynchburg, Virginia in 2001 on Christmas.  Pastor Samuel received a Master’s in Theology from Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary. 

The husband-wife team began working with The Salvation Army 15 years ago in Alexandria, Virginia, after finding that the denomination filled their desires to both help people with their physical needs and also share the Gospel. Both types of work are extremely important to the Kims.

Each weekend the Kim family drove to The Salvation Army Church in the Washington DC area (a four-hour commute) where Pastor Samuel served as Youth Pastor.  After graduation, the family moved to the capital. Answering God’s call, they entered into the Salvation Army Training School in Atlanta, Georgia for Officership in 2006 and were commissioned in June, 2008.

The Kims have served at two other appointments in the Army before arriving at the Treasure Coast. 

Together they fight against the problems plaguing those in need.

Under the umbrella of the Martin/St. Lucie/Okeechobee Salvation Army, there is a wide range of services:

  • ·         Emergency disaster services
  • ·         Food pantry
  • ·         Emergency financial assistance for utilities and rent
  • ·         Assistance with prescriptions, clothing, household items, bus passes
  • ·         Soup kitchen
  • ·         Angel Tree Christmas program—reached 1500 children in 2017
  • ·         Free weekly children’s programs which includes bus transportation: building character and skills
  • ·         Children’s summer camp (Starke, FL) 80 children go camping, hiking, boating, swimming yearly
  • ·         Vacation Bible School
  • ·         Youth brass band, teen programs
  • ·         Church services and Bible studies
  • ·         Drug and alcohol rehabilitation—six to nine month program for men, with a firm commitment; they are sent to Orlando or Fort Lauderdale for rehabilitation
  • ·         Currently in development is Adam’s Place shelter for veterans and men (Fort Pierce)
  • ·         Family Store thrift stores—taking donations of household goods, clothing, etc..

Each year more than 25,000 meals are served; 18,000+ enjoy a free breakfast; 227,000+ lbs of food is given out; $20,000+ is given as grocery gift cards to families in need; 2400+ individuals are assisted with rent, mortgage, utilities, clothing, etc..; 115+ women and children receive safe shelter in Compassion House.

Compassion House provides job training and assistance to women until they are back on their own, using the “Pathway of Hope” program.  Counseling continues for one to two years until the poverty cycle is completely broken.  The success rate is more than 85 percent.  The annual budget for the shelter is $300,000 to $350,000.  Pastor Samuel states it is 100 percent spending—everything budgeted goes to aid these families.

For a future goal, The Salvation Army in Stuart has set a plan to build affordable housing on property they own.  This plan would keep the women and their children safe from predators; it is a major need for transitioning families. Only recently, in October, 2017, the U.S. Justice Department announced an “initiative” to combat sexual harassment in housing by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security guards and others.  This release alone demonstrates that a major civil rights violation of women as victims has been happening.

The need for safe affordable housing under The Salvation Army’s care is a local necessity on Florida's Treasure Coast.

Adam’s Place shelter, a new project in St. Lucie County, is also in need of major donors.  A building has been provided by Fort Pierce’s Housing Authority, but it must be outfitted and funds raised for three years of operation prior to opening.  Homeless veterans will be beneficially helped at this location.

The Salvation Army does even more than what most of us know.  They work year-round, giving their hearts to God and their hands to man.  They are good Samaritans.  Their movement’s motto is “Doing the Most Good.” 

An army means many, many people working together for one cause in an organized manner to defeat enemies.  More than 500 people in the Treasure Coast community are registered volunteers with The Salvation Army and more than 100 of those are regular volunteers.  There is an Advisory Board with recognizable names, a Women’s Auxiliary of many members and regular staff.  The Salvation Army also joins with local agencies to help those in need.  Together, with Captain Samuel Kim and Captain Christine Kim, they are The Salvation Army working together to defeat poverty, sin, and homelessness.

Why have I written about the Kims?

At Christmas time, outside the Ocean Breeze Publix in Jensen Beach, I met a Salvation Army “bellringer” who was playing music on a saw!  He was Joseph Kim, the son of Pastors Samuel and Christine Kim.  Joseph is a senior at Jensen Beach High School.  He plans to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville and become a dental missionary.  Joseph sat outside that day, and others, for many hours raising money for The Salvation Army. 

Joseph’s character spoke well for his parents.  The Kims left South Korea, where all their family lives, endured homesickness, raised children abroad in another culture and language, at God’s call.  Though initially outsiders, as many in Florida are, they have become true citizens, doing their most for our good.

The Salvation Army needs to expand their army.  If you are interested in helping those in need in your own community (Martin/St. Lucie/Okeechobee) by volunteering with The Salvation Army, contact Volunteer Coordinator Kim Johnson 772-288-1471, ext. 202

If you’d like to contact Captain Samuel Kim: or Captain Christine Kim:

Phone:  772.288.1471

Location: Salvation Army, 821 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Stuart, Florida

Contact Kelly Jadon:

*Welch-Lazoritz, Melissa L.; Whitbeck, Les B.; Armenta, Brian E. (2015-11-01). "Characteristics of Mothers Caring for Children During Episodes of Homelessness". Community Mental Health Journal. 51 (8): 913–920. doi:10.1007/s10597-014-9794-8. ISSN 0010-3853.

© 2018 "Hometown Heroes"  Kelly Jadon

How To Get Your Kid Off Drugs

The two of us sat together inside a local Jensen Beach coffeehouse, where Penny Cooke told me her story—how her son got off drugs.  It’s not an easy tale to tell, but necessary.  “It can help others,” Penny says.  Penny and her husband, Harry Cooke, raised three children.  But their middle son, Jared, began using marijuana, in 9th grade.  His personality began to change. His friends changed.  His music changed.  Penny’s son became distant, falling asleep at the table.   Harry even bolted his bedroom window shut so he couldn’t sneak out at night.

Mother and Son: Penny and Jared Cooke 2018

Mother and Son: Penny and Jared Cooke 2018

Looking back, Penny relates, “The first time Jared called crying from jail, we should have left him there.”  But the Cookes bailed their son out of Martin County Jail.  Promises were made, and broken. Penny states, “This situation went back and forth for years.  Each time Jared got clean, we helped him.  We helped him get a truck and paid an overdue bill.  But it only paved the way to more drug use.”

Jared’s drug use escalated until he stole checks from his father’s business.  That day was the culmination.

Harry and Penny gave Jared an ultimatum; he could enter a faith-based rehab facility or they would file charges against him.  Jared ran. Harry has said that prosecuting his own son, Jared, was the hardest thing he ever did, but he knew he had to follow through.

Two years later, Jared sat out on Jacksonville Beach.  He had nothing.  Tired, he cried out to God, “God, if You’re real, help me!”  A few days later Jared was arrested on an unrelated charge.  The warrant against him popped up and he was moved back to Martin County.  While in Martin County Jail, Jared entered Dunklin Memorial Camp’s jail program. This led to him being sentenced to Dunklin’s regeneration program in Okeechobee.

It’s a 10-month long faith-based rehab program to free addicts who want to be free.  After 13 years of addiction, Jared Cooke became free with the help of God and remains free today, serving as Campus Pastor with his wife at Hillsong Church’s Darwin, Australia location.

Penny says this about her 13-year ordeal with her son’s addiction:  “Loving your child doesn’t mean doing everything they think they want or giving them everything they think they need.  When a child’s on drugs, doing those things is enabling him.  It gets to be a vicious cycle.  One of the things that I've always remembered was being at a Nancy Leigh DeMoss conference and something she said was a clincher for me. She said, ‘When you rescue your kids, you rescue them from the cross.’ Wow, how true. We as parents need to stop delaying or preventing our kids' rescue. We get in God's way when we ‘help’ (enable) them.  Enabling actually disables.

Jared always knew we loved him.  So many kids don’t know that.  He felt loved even when we would do nothing for him.”

She adds, “Having a child on drugs—it can happen to any of us.  No child is exempt and it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.  Society pulls real hard in the opposite direction from what we taught at home.”

Jared explains that at age 15 he saw the friend group he wanted to be a part of and did what he needed to do to be a part of it.  Drugs.  Jared began with pot and progressed to Ecstasy, acid, mushrooms, Special K, cocaine, and OxyContin.  At the end, he took anything he could get his hands on to stay in his made-up fantasy world which allowed him to escape from his mess ups.

How did Penny get through those 13 years?  She prayed.  She prayed until she ran out of words and then she prayed the Scriptures.  “There’s nothing more powerful than this,” she adds.  “Later I looked back and saw how God had specifically answered my prayers according to what I had prayed in the Scriptures.  Jared would even tell you today that the reason he’s alive now is because of his mom’s prayers and he can see how they’ve come alive in his own life.”

God hears the cry of the mother.

You can find Penny and Harry Cooke Sunday mornings at First Baptist Jensen Beach.

“All things are possible with God”

Contact Kelly Jadon:

© 2018 "Hometown Heroes"  Kelly Jadon