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The Modesto Red Shield: Home away from home for local youth
By Melissa Hutsell

The Salvation Army has long been a pillar of faith, hope, community and charity to the local community for more than 100 years and counting.

What started in a small tent in Victorian England quickly grew into the international symbol that we can all recognize: the red shield of the Salvation Army.

In 1865, London minister William Booth began laying the foundation that would later become the global force it is today. According to Salvation Army International, Booth took his mission to spread Christianity to the streets where he reached those who felt unwelcome within churches and chapels: the homeless, the poor and the hungry.

The mission’s namesake was inspired in 1878 when Booth stumbled upon the Christian Mission’s annual report, titled “The Christian Mission is a Volunteer Army.” The term ‘volunteer’ was replaced with ‘salvation,’ and hence, the Salvation Army was born.

Now, the Salvation Army has grown far beyond its humble beginnings to serve in nearly every corner of the globe. It’s nearly 14,000 corps serve countless populations in 127 countries. Today, nearly 8,000 locations across the US serve 29 million Americans each year.

According to the Salvation Army International ‘s “2016 Year Book,” there are more than 10,000 programs offered worldwide. In addition to hospitals, refugee programs, community daycares and a range of rehabilitation and spiritual programs, the organization also provides youth, women, and senior services to communities including our own.

The Salvation Army officially established a corps in Modesto on March 1, 1890. The city is now home to the Modesto Citadel — the original corps, renamed in 1992 — and the Salvation Army Red Shield Community Center, according to the corps’ historical records. The community center opened in 1970, and has since grown to include a pool, game room, church, gym, and computer lab.

Construction on the south Modesto center began in 1969 with the intention of providing the community with a recreational facility, including a pool, says the Red Shield’s Minster and Lieutenant Quinton Markham. Due to the Valley’s heat, kids were drawn to the canals. The number of drownings in the region prompted the organization to provide a safe place to swim, adds Lt. Markham.

Now, the Red Shield center offers approximately 20 different youth-focused programs such as softball, baseball, boxing, tutoring programs, and a lab with 24 computers.

“Most of the kids that attend here don’t have internet access in their home, if a computer at all,” said Lt. Markham. "Children are trained in internet safety, and are taught how to operate a computer and its software."

According to the Lieutenant, the primary goal of the Red Shield center is to “provide activities and opportunities for children whose family’s economic status continues to limit their options.” By providing educational, spiritual, recreational, and fellowship opportunities, the center gives the community youth a safe, friendly place to get involved.

The organization has always been an influential part of Markham’s life. He was “raised in the Salvation Army,” his parents both served for more than 30 years. At a young age, they instilled in him the importance of “working with children with limited means to try to create a better life and opportunities for them.”

“The Salvation Army is there to meet whatever need there is in the community – every community is unique,” says Markham. “Growing up, I saw that – each place I went [while traveling with my parents], there were different needs.”

The needs of the south Modesto community and his lifetime of dedication to youth programs specifically brought Lt. Markham and his wife to the Central Valley in July of 2014. The Markhams, who met at a Salvation Army summer camp, have both separately dedicated more than 25 years to the organization in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington regions.

“In this part of Modesto, the options are limited for many of these kids. The Red Shield is like a home away from home to them. They know that they’ll find a friendly staff here and activities to interest and excite them,” adds Markham, who says that is one of the most rewarding things. “There are too many negative influences in the world today for kids. We’re trying to be a positive one. “

For More Information:

Salvation Army Red Shield Center
1649 Las Vegas St., Modesto
(209) 538-7111

How you can helpSponsorships

The Red Shield Center in south Modesto serves under privileged children in the community. Even with low membership rates, some families cannot afford to join. The Red Shield has established a sponsorship program to help off-set the cost of these memberships while allowing families to participate in activities and use the facility. Consider sponsoring a child or family today:
Children under 18: $18
Adults: $30
Seniors: $14
Families (2 adults, up to 4 children): $50


Volunteers come from all walks of life and support the Army in almost all of its activities. They serve as members of auxiliary groups and advisory organizations, tutors for our young people and in special functions when disasters strike. Their contribution of time and commitment are essential to the success of our organization.

Special campaigns:Kidz Day

Kidz Day is a major fundraiser supporting the work of The Salvation Army Modesto Red Shield. Every May a special edition newspaper is dedicated to the work of the Red Shield. Papers are hawked on street corners throughout the Central Valley for $1. Proceeds go to the Red Shield. Volunteers are always needed.

Christmas Kettles

During the holidays The Salvation Army looks for volunteers in the community to help raise funds for the programs and Christmas efforts provided by The Salvation Army Modesto Red Shield. Volunteers can help adopt a Christmas kettle by ringing the bell during the holidays. Volunteers may be individuals, groups, businesses or clubs. We require you to adopt the kettle for a minimum of 4 hours (you may create shifts and alternate with friends/family).

Christmas Angel Trees

During the holidays The Salvation Army looks for volunteers to adopt our angel tree tags for needy children.

For more information on sponsorships, volunteer opportunities and special campaigns, call 209.538.7111 or visit