Today, women are speaking up for themselves and others in a way they haven’t in decades. We’re seeing empowerment in the workplace, an increase in public service, and push-back against harassment and assault. We are rejoicing in a new collective voice showcasing strong, intelligent and passionate women.
Historically, many organizations have not encouraged leadership by women, but this was never the case with The Salvation Army. From the beginning, the Army has empowered women to advocate for and serve the most vulnerable in our world. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8th), we’d like to highlight a few exemplary women who have made a difference, with the Army backing their charge.
Evangeline Booth was the seventh of eight children born to General William Booth and his wife, Catherine. She grew up in The Salvation Army, helping her parents spread the mission of caring for those whom society had forgotten – the poor, the drunk, and the destitute. She brought hope and love to those who had none. Booth was so strong that she was often sent wherever there was opposition to The Salvation Army or their work was threatened. Her father, General Booth, was often quoted as saying “Send Eva!”
The Doughnut Lassies
In the midst of WWI, Evangeline Booth sent 250 Salvation Army volunteers overseas to support the US soldiers fighting in France. There, they set up small huts located near the front lines to give soldiers clothes, supplies and baked goods. The Doughnut Lassies began frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets. The tasty treats boosted morale and won the hearts of the soldiers. In addition to serving fresh-fried pastries, Doughnut Lassies provided spiritual aid and comfort. They were a link home to family and friends. Their work on the front lines was rekindled during World War II. Today, the Army honors the Doughnut Lassies efforts by celebrating Donut Days annually in June.
Eliza Shirley pioneered the establishment of The Salvation Army in the United States. Born in England, she dedicated herself to The Salvation Army at 16 years of age. The following year, her father informed her they were moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So Eliza approached General William Booth for his endorsement and guidance to share the Army’s message across the ocean. He warned Eliza that new faiths were often unwelcome and to prepare herself for a tough journey.
After a tour of San Diego, Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, said that she recognized a community that was in desperate need of a safe gathering place; a place with facilities and trained professionals to nurture children’s social skills, arts appreciation, and athletic potential. To help her vision become a reality, Joan entrusted The Salvation Army with $87 million to build the first Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
Making History Today
Women continue to make their mark with The Salvation Army, ensuring that we help the helpless and restore hope to the hopeless. And they continue to make history.