Salvation Army dedicates expanded female dormitory to Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club
The Salvation Army of Aiken more than doubled its capacity to serve female clients Thursday.
Salvation Army officers and board members and members of the Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club cut the ribbon on the expanded dormitory for women at its shelter at 604 Park Ave. S.E.
Lt. April Tiller placed a plaque on the door to the new dormitory dedicated to the Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club with the name Aiken Mid-Day Lions of Judah Female Dormitory. The Lions of Judah is a Biblical reference from Genesis to the Israelite Tribe of Judah, the son of Jacob, Tiller said.
“That takes our shelter from 32 beds to 44 beds as of today,” said Tiller, who, with her husband, Lt. Randall Tiller, became commanders of the Aiken Salvation Army on July 1. “When we arrived in Aiken, the females had only four beds, and they shared a bedroom with a family. Now we have nine beds.”
The shelter also has 16 beds for males and 19 for families.
In addition to the extra beds, the shelter got fresh coats of paint and a wood floor to replace carpet in the common room.
When Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club members volunteering at the shelter saw the renovations, they asked how they could help, Tiller said, and provided curtains and mattress covers in addition to the food, towels, wash cloths, shower curtains and other items they provide throughout the year.
“The Mid-Day Lions are always here, checking on our children, their parents and the women and men here in the shelter,” she said. “They have such a great love.”
The Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club has partnered with the Salvation Army and its Boys and Girls Club since its founding 23 years ago, Mid-Day Lions President Karen Olsen Edwards said.
“We really love working with the Salvation Army because we serve. That’s our motto,” she said.
The club coordinated with FFA students at Aiken High to provide landscaping in front of the shelter, a project that won state, district and national awards through the Country Gardeners Garden Club and the Aiken Garden Club Council.
The club also provided a bike rack because many of the shelter’s clients who come for lunch arrive on bicycle, Edwards said.
“We have great hopes for things we can do with the community’s help,” Edwards said. “We’re a very small club, but I say we’re mighty because we have big hearts and open hands.”
Randy Croom, the Lions Club state governor for District 32C, traveled from Kingstree to attend the ribbon cutting. He said the Lions Club is the world’s largest civic organization with 1.4 million members.
In South Carolina and around the world, the Lions Club helps provide eye surgeries, glasses and hearing aids, Croom said. The club also has helped provide medicines to eliminate river blindness, a tropical skin disease that can migrate to the eye, and reduce mortality from measles.
“We partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Croom said. “We saved the lives of at least 100 children today who might have died from measles.”
The Lions Club also provides disaster relief and is helping people who lost their homes or were displaced by Hurricane Florence with food vouchers and gift cards, Croom said.
“We’re here to serve,” he said.
The Salvation Army’s shelter is a 24-hour facility, Tiller said, but closes during the day to allow clients to look for jobs or apply for services.
The soup kitchen at the shelter is open from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Today, we served 71 people in our soup kitchen alone, and that averages anywhere from 70 to 135 people daily,” Tiller said.
In 2017, the shelter provided 20,507 meals, served 3,463 people and helped 149 people with utility bills.
“I want to thank Aiken for their answer to our plea for help at the shelter. We’ve had a great deal of response from the community whether it be monetary or hourly volunteer donations,” Tiller said. “We hope we’re serving Aiken to the best of our ability, and we’re always open to ideas on how we can better our shelter.”