31 October 2015


  Eliza Shirley 

What were you doing at the age of 16?


Many of us were busy with our high school education, sports, part-time jobs, volunteering, babysitting, or a long list of other things. Not many of us can say that we were responsible for introducing a worldwide charitable organization to the United States at that age. Eliza Shirley, however, crossed the Atlantic Ocean at the age of 16 to launch The Salvation Army movement in the United States right here in Philadelphia in 1879.


Eliza left London to come to America with her parents, personally determined to carry on The Salvation Army's work in Philadelphia. She walked the streets in search of an affordable meeting place, and dedicated her life's work to continuing the mission of doing the most good for those in the most need. Soon after they arrived in America and opened their first meeting space, they were expanding to serve West Philadelphia, and the rest is history.


During The Salvation Army's global 150th anniversary of providing crucial services to those in need, we are honored to recognize Eliza Shirley's contributions and outstanding efforts in advancing the mission of The Salvation Army.  We pay tribute to her legacy through our Eliza Shirley campus, which is growing and expanding to best serve the needs of Philadelphia's many unique neighborhoods.


What began as the Eliza Shirley House emergency residence for homeless families is now expanding to form a larger campus of administrative staff, becoming a facility that is more adequately prepared to meet the city's needs.


"The benefit of doing this restructuring and bringing new services to our Eliza Shirley campus in Bala Cynwyd will be that we'll be able to function better as an organization," said Major Robert Dixon, Director of Operations for The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia. "We are looking to relocate our shelter, which will give us more flexibility to work more closely with our residents to guide them towards the path to recovery."


Currently, The Salvation Army is in the process of moving all city operations and development staff to the campus on Conshohocken Avenue. Once complete, the Eliza Shirley emergency residence will be officially moved to center city Philadelphia at the site of the current Red Shield Family Residence, which will move to the campus. These renovations are expected to be completed by the fall of 2016.


"Our plans to evolve our campus are a testament to how The Salvation Army continually adapts in order to provide the best service to the community," Dixon said. "We never cease in our mission to do the most good, and we'll do whatever that takes."


This dedication to evolution and continued service will bring several members of The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia staff to London, England, this year for the International Congress celebrating the 150th anniversary of The Salvation Army worldwide.


"I think this will be a wonderful coming together to see what The Salvation Army has accomplished in 150 years, and I'm thrilled we'll be able to attend," Dixon said.