Salvation Army Helps Convicted Felons Through Community Service Work

Bernie Tafoya
December 07, 2018 - 7:30 am

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- One of the little-known ways the Salvation Army helps is by giving convicted felons a chance to do any court-ordered community service work. 

Steve Martinez, 50, has spent more than half of his adult life behind bars. Once out, he was stopped by police while driving even though his license had been suspended. He was ordered to do 150 hours of community service work. 

The Salvation Army in Joliet welcomed him.

"I didn’t think that they were going to accept me and, by the grace of God, they did," he said.

Salvation Army Captain Dan Faundez said convicted felons are accepted for volunteer work after undergoing a background check since the Salvation Army has children’s programs.

RELATED: WBBM Newsradio's Good Neighbor Radiothon | Salvation Army Helps Build -- And Rebuild -- Lives | Salvation Army Helps More Than Just People In Poverty 

"We believe everybody, every man, every person has dignity," Faundez said. 

Steve Martinez said he does not intend to go back to a life of crime and drugs. He now has a full-time and a part-time job and said, "I was part of the problem before. Now, I’m part of the solution and I’m grateful to God for that."

Capt. Faundez said many times, felons who do work for the Salvation Army see how what they do impacts other people's lives.

Steve Martinez has done at least three stints in prison and said he was really surprised the Salvation Army allowed him to do his community service work at the center for his serious traffic violation. 

"I get choked up when I think about it but, yeah, it’s great. They gave me that feeling that they cared, you know?" Martinez said. 

Friday marks WBBM Newsradio's 23rd Annual Good Neighbor Radiothon that raises money for The Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club. The event runs 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. To donate to the Salvation Army, visit WBBM Newsradio's Good Neighbor Radiothon donation page or call 844-361-8400.