YORK, Pa. — The Salvation Army operates in 131 countries, running charity shops, operating shelters for the homeless and providing humanitarian aid to developing countries. One of it's most successful initiatives is aimed at helping children through it's afterschool program.
Years ago, FOX43 had the pleasure of meeting Ke-Shon Riley, who credits the non-profit's after school program for changing the outcome of his life.
"In 6th grade my mother and father were going through a separation, so it was kinda hard for me to deal with that at home and then come into school and focus on what needed to be done," Riley said.
The then-middle school student was hanging with a rough crowd and says he would have ended up just like them, had he not heard about the Salvation Army's after school program.
"Coming here at a young age, I felt I was always at home. The staff was great, they always have that loving care for you," he said. Ke-Shon said he found a second home at the Salvation Army in York. A home he loved so much, that while in high school at William Penn, he became a volunteer himself. For years he helped run activities ranging from music and basketball, to help with homework, all while providing a safe place for kids to go.
"A lot of kids I talk to, they have had rough times at home, everything is not all good at home, so when they come here they feel as though they are comfortable here, " Riley said.
A comfort he says he will always be grateful for. "It helped me and it's helped a lot of other kids that came to this program as well, so yeah I would definitely say thank you to them. The Salvation Army will always have a special place in my heart, as a grownup as a child, and as I get older, I will always remember the Salvation Army.
FAST FORWARD 5 YEARS:
Ke-Shon wasn't kidding about the gratitude he had for the salvation army. 5 years since meeting him, FOX43's Amy Lutz caught up with him over zoom earlier this week.
After graduating high school, Ke-Shon got a full time job as a forklift operator. He is now also employed by the Salvation Army as a counselor for the after school program, where he works 5 days a week. He told me he has no plans anytime soon to stop giving back to the organization who helped him so much.
For more information on the various programs the salvation army has to offer, check out there website, here.
For a look at their Facebook page, click here.