ST. CLOUD -- This week in our Behind the Scenes series on WJON, we walk through the Salvation Army and see how they help so many people get back on their feet.

Unless you have ever had to use the services from the Salvation Army you may not understand what goes on.

Community Development Director Jim Muellenbach says the Salvation Army is considered a hand up not a hand out organization.

"We are more of a program and when someone checks in here yes we give them a place to stay, food and clothing but there is also parts they need to put into it," says Muellenbach.

The 69 bed shelter has utilized the former hotel site since 2008 and operates multiple programs from inside.

"We have the backpack program, the community lunch program and we are a food shelf just to name a few," says Muellenbach.

Each room has four single beds and the two floors are split among men and women.

"The men stay upstairs, the women and children will stay downstairs," says Muellenbach. "If a family that comes in with two parents and kids, the mother and children will stay downstairs the father will sleep upstairs but be allowed downstairs during the day."

People can stay at the shelter up to 90 days, but Muellenbach says they need to put in the work.

"If you stay you are to be looking for a job and looking for a place to live," says Muellenbach.

The Salvation Army is 83% effective meaning they can get a lot of bang for their buck.

"Say you went and bought $20 worth of groceries and brought them to us, if you would have just gave us the money we could have bought $120 worth of food with that and maximize your donation," says Muellenbach.

But providing all these services wouldn't be possible without the help of their many volunteers.

"The majority of people that work here are volunteers," says Muellenbach. "I have a group of five women who have been coming here for the last 20 years."

The organization provides many services for those in need and Muellenbach says the community has been their biggest supporter.


Jim Muellenbach shows us the layout of the shelter at the Salvation Army (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)