The Salvation Army was originally established in 1865 in London, England. It first came to Winsted in 1906 and, for the past four years, the organization’s Winsted Regional Service Center has been located at 716 Main Street. The organization offers a food pantry for those in need along with help with fuel and heating assistance, and a toy drive for children in need during the holiday season. During the pandemic, the Winsted location has stepped up its work with weekly outdoor food tables offering free and fresh foods for residents in need.
Pam Carignan, a Simsbury resident, is the Development Associate for the Salvation Army of Southern New England and the Regional Coordinator of the Winsted Regional Service Center. She has worked with The Salvation Army for the past eight years.
Winsted Phoenix: What do you love about your job?
“The people. Whether it’s the individuals that we serve, learning about them and their families and where they are in life can be very interesting, heartbreaking, and inspiring. The many people working for agencies in town that we partner with to provide further help and assistance in areas that are out of our area of expertise are all very generous and kind with their support. The many people that stop in to help with donations are all also very generous. And especially the volunteers that are giving of their time and generosity to help us fulfill our commitment to assist those in need.”
WP: Why do you think your job is important to people?
“We are a resource in town that people know they can contact for help. Whether the help we provide is food for their family or it’s information about how to or where to go for further help. We are here. We work with many other agencies in town and with members of the town’s employees which gives us a well-rounded understanding of what resources are available to help individuals in many different circumstances.”
WP: Why is your job important to you?
“It is gratifying when we can help someone that doesn’t know where to go or what to do. Especially during COVID-19, we are hearing from people that this is their first time having to ask for help and not knowing where to go. Sometimes it is just lending an ear to listen to their story or it may be a suggestion to call someone with more expertise. Either way, it’s nice to know we are helpful and hopefully reducing the stress of the situation.”
WP: How has the Salvation Army been impacted by COVID-19?
“We continue to serve those in need by keeping our food pantry available two days a week by appointment. We never closed or stopped the assistance during COVID-19. We are following Centers for Disease Control guidelines by not allowing anyone into our Center other than the wonderful volunteers that are here to help us keep our services available. The volunteers and staff all wear masks, wash hands frequently and keep our social distance from one another. We continue to work with many agencies including Connecticut Food Bank and Food Rescue in receiving food to distribute to those in need. Winsted Stop & Shop as well and the Winsted Cumberland Farms have been a great help in donating food to our food pantry that we then share with the community, the soup kitchen, and the two shelters in town. We continue to receive donations from the churches in town, Winsted Elks Lodge, Winsted Senior Center, and many individuals that just want to help. Without all this help we wouldn’t be able to continue to serve those in need.”