Angel Interview of the Month
Each month, The Angelrock Project features an Angel Interview of the Month, interviews with people who provide unique and life-saving services within large non-profit organizations. We hope that by reading their stories, you will understand their special contribution to society by working for invaluable NGO's within the organization's headquarters or in the field.
Captain Travis Lock is Pastor/Executive Director of The Salvation Army Bushwick Worship and Community Center located in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. In this role, he leads a Community Center that is an integral part of the neighborhood offering services to the youth, homeless, and elderly in the area. The Community Center aims to bridge the gap with services that are not provided by the government or within the school system in an effort to help all of its citizens with a variety of programs. The Community Center also offers a worship program which provides an important spiritual home for members of the neighborhood as well.
Q. What is the mission of The Salvation Army?
A. The mission of The Salvation Army is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to serve all of humanity without discrimination.
Q. How long have you been employed by The Salvation Army?
A. I have worked for The Salvation Army for 9 years.
Q. What other Worship and Community Centers have you worked at during your career with The Salvation Army?
A. This is my second facility. Before coming to Bushwick, I worked at the Hartford Northend Worship and Community Center in Hartford, CT. Both of the locations have similar demographics in that they are located in neighborhoods that serve poverty stricken, at-risk, and minority populations.
Bushwick is a neighborhood with startling statistics. There is a population of 100,000 people. It has consistently struggled to overcome obstacles, such as drug trafficking, a high incidence of child neglect, rising crime rates, and broken families. Over half of its population lives below the poverty line and receives some form of public assistance. Only a little over 50% of the students of its largest high school, Bushwick High, graduate in four years.
Q. What is your role at The Bushwick Worship and Community Center and how long have you been in this role?
A. I am the Pastor/Executive Director of the Center and try and build the Center on the premises and interests of the people of the community. I have been here for almost two years.
Q. What types of services do you offer and who is clientele?
A. We have a wide variety of social services such as a food pantry, feeding program, counseling, a full-service day care, after-school enrichment programs, technology based-programs, and recreation programs. Our spiritual component consists of three services weekly, and as I mentioned, I am the Pastor.
Q. What are the unique challenges at The Bushwick Worship and Community Center?
A. I think one of the biggest challenges is in understanding the demographics of the community in order to meet its needs. We are in a very diverse community and there are a lot of cultural differences within the community. As the Center is fiscally challenged and charged with meeting goals with limited resources, we take the great needs of our community very seriously. We are committed to doing more than the minimum. An additional challenge is getting professional volunteers to come in and help us work with the children and families of our community. Our community needs to see people in a variety of positions coming back to help us with our goals. This serves three important missions -- to teach the community members much-needed skills, show them that they can reach whatever goals they set for themselves if they they work hard, and to let them know that people who make it out of the neighborhood and achieve a good life care for them and want to come home to give back.
Q. What type of services would you like to offer in the future?
A. I would like to offer services that focus on technology. We will have a technologically demanding future so our children and adults need to be equipped to meet the challenge. I would also like to offer additional educational programs and programs that help children deal with social development, etiquette, and the like. Additionally, I would like to offer more art programs, including visual and performing arts. These types of programs are really important as our schools face declining budgets. It is important for the Center to pick up where the schools are leaving off. We cannot leave our children behind.
Q. What do you feel at-risk youth need most to succeed with the challenges they face?
A. I think our youth need parents who understand the challenges their children face and who are willing to get involved. We need families at the Center that we can bridge together and support their children as a team. Parenting is really the key component to successful children. We at the Center can play a bigger role in the community by assisting parents to become more knowledgeable about what their children face every day when they leave their houses and help them to access resources. We can also assist them on knowing how to advocate on their children's behalf.
Q. You are also a minister. What does this mean to you personally and how does it help you run the Bushwick Worship and Community Center?
A. First of all, I enjoy what I do. I am happier now than at any other point in my life in terms of what I do. I like to lead people by example. I hope people will see me lead by my actions more than by what I say. My role as a minister helps me to meet the spiritual and holistic needs of the community.
Q. Your wife works by your side. What does she do at the Center?
A. My wife oversees all of the social service programs. She does a lot of counseling. She is also a minister of religion and facilitates the women's ministry. I'm pleased to be able to work with her side by side. She is probably my minister. She always has been. She is that person who helps me, challenges me to grow personally, and keeps me grounded. She is instrumental to the functioning of the Center. It's amazing to witness all the work that women do in this society and don't get the credit they deserve.
Q. How does the Bushwick Worship and Community Center interact and support other non-profits in the neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn?
A. We have partnered with several agencies like the East Bushwick Community Coalition and the Community Board Four, which allows us to know even more about what is going on in the community. It also allows us to be aware of each other's role and keeps us from duplicating services and refer our clients elsewhere when another organization offers those services instead. This is really important when we are challenged with regard to resources. We also work with several of the local shelters and the schools in our area.
Q. Tell us about Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service and what it meant to the children who traveled, to the Center, and to you?
A. Journey for Change is a dynamic program put together by a fabulous person. I believe that God put this idea in her mind and placed it in her heart to be able to get it done in such a short amount of time.* I think this experience defined poverty for the children on a level they've never seen before. It also gave our community a chance to do something challenging. It brought the community together to make it happen. It gave us exposure and this will help us to further encourage the community. People are excited! This was one of the greatest challenges I've every endured and as an African American, I wanted to go to Africa. I was impressed by the beauty of it and the peace that it left in my soul. Everyday I was able to imagine and dream. I had such positive thoughts even though I was surrounded by people who were profoundly materially challenged. Even in their situations, they are spiritually rich and not broken.
Q. How did it personally feel to serve globally?
A. The experience challenged me to do even more in my community. It felt wonderful. To be able to serve in Africa was extra special to me because I was able to serve people that are a part of my culture. It gave me an opportunity to see things that I did not know existed in the world.
Q. What are your personal goals for the Journey for Change Global Ambassadors?
A. I have a very simple goal. I would like to strengthen my personal relationship with each child and support them with their goals in life.
Q. What would you like The Bushwick Worship and Community Center to do for the children of South Africa or the Salvation Army Corps in South Africa?
A. I would like to see the children we met at the various Salvation Army programs come to the U.S. and spend time with us in Bushwick. I would like to set up a program where we raise funds, establish a social service model, and food pantries in the areas we visited in Soweto and Diepsloot. I want to get more involved and help children go to school by providing the fees, supplies, and uniforms. Our kids were so touched by what they saw that they are already raising money. They had a bake sale and there is an upcoming carwash. It is my goal to continue being supportive of the ideas the youth here come up with.
Q. Tell us about your family?
A. I come from a small family. I was raised by my mother and great aunts. I am extremely blessed. I am married and have two teenage children. They are doing well in school and I am extremely proud of them. They are very well rounded. I love being involved in their daily lives and it is a privilege to be a parent.
Q. What is your background? Where did you grow up and what was your youth like?
A. I grew up in a small town, Fayetteville, NC, in my great-grandmother's home. I was in a segregated school system until the sixth grade. The people in my community were very positive and there was a good work ethic. My siblings and I, including an older brother and a sister, were athletes and athletics provided us with many opportunities including collegiate scholarships. Like many young African-American men, I had hoped for a professional career, but my college experience helped me to see that I had other options. I came out of college and joined the Navy. I traveled the world. I have had a very blessed life.
Q. Who is your mentor?
A. Dr. Julian Powell, a professor at my college encouraged me to study biology. He told me that I had a gift for mathematics and recommended me for a microbiology summer program at Fisk University. His mentoring allowed me to see another side of myself beyond just being an athlete. The experience helped to show me there were other things in me that were very positive. And these elements equaled, if not surpassed, my skills in athletics. This relationship is part of why I think it is so important to mentor youth today.
Q. What is your favorite book?
A. The Bible is certainly one of my favorite reads. I also like Richard Wright's Black Boy.
Q. What is your favorite scripture?
A. My favorite scripture is I Corinthians Chapter 10, verse 13: There hath no temptation taken you but such is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Q. What is your motto?
A. Winners never quit and quitters never win.
Q. How can people reading this interview help The Bushwick Salvation Army Worship and Community Center and the people you serve?
A. Please get in touch with us and let us know about the things you feel you can provide. In terms of volunteering, we can especially use people who can give the children an important skill or have a service that can help the Center at large. And, of course, financial resources are important and very much needed.
Let me give you a nice example. We are currently renovating our library and computer lab right now. This is being done through a wonderful donation from Target. But we are truly able to do this because of the generosity of our volunteer team, which includes the renowned architect Rodney Leon who owns a firm in Manhattan, but was born and raised in Brooklyn and a recent graduate from Pratt Institute, Darius Somers, who are designing the new space pro bono. Our site manager, Ron Baker, is a green builder in Brooklyn and is also volunteering his time. This is such a blessing to us.
So, if anyone reads about our Center and is interested and feel like they can be of service, I encourage them to email or call us. We will be grateful.
Q. Please tell us a lasting thought about you that we did not ask?
A. I am a very funny guy. I like telling jokes. I love to laugh. Laughter is good for the soul.
For more information on the Salvation Army Bushwick Worship and Community Center, please visit the official website for The Salvation Army Greater New York at www.use.salvationarmy.org/gnyd. You can also email the Bushwick Center directly at Sergo.Lalanne@USE.SalvationArmy.Org. Please send financial donations made payable to:
*Editors Note: Captain Lock is referring to Malaak Compton-Rock
Past Angel Interview of the Month
To view all past Angel Interviews of the month, please click here.
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