Updated: 10/17/2013 7:37 AM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz
Former employees and enrollees at the Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Minneapolis are raising concerns about the program. Anyone who shops at the popular thrift stores across the Twin Cities is donating to the program, which helps men struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
This summer, the ARC changed leadership. Men are required to follow stricter rules, including a tougher dress code. Enrollment is down because more than 100 men have dropped out. Though the program has capacity for 120 men, there are only 37 at the center.
"I was brought here to make changes and bring it back into the program that it was intended to be, and that's an adult rehabilitation center where we deal with the spiritual and the emotional issues helping these men get ready for life again," Captain Dennis Earnhart, new captain at the Minneapolis ARC, said.
David Johnson worked at the ARC for 12 years as a counselor and chaplain.
"I loved my job. I felt really called to that place," Johnson said.
Less than two months after the new leadership came in, Johnson was fired. He says the changes are hurting the program.
"Guys didn't feel like they were being embraced any longer, and so pretty much right away there was a mass exodus, so people started just leaving," Johnson said.
Johnson says he was fired because of a decrease in enrollment.
"I'm concerned about the men who have left the program. What happened to them? They came to receive what they thought was going to be help, and they entered this oppressive environment, and they couldn't take it so they are back out on the streets," Johnson said.
We asked Captain Earnhart about the decrease in enrollment while the public continues to shop and donate at the thrift stores.
"I don't see the problem, as I said, the house count will go up, the money stays within the system and used to fund our program," Earnhart said.
As the men go through the system, they work in the warehouse and Salvation Army thrift stores. Money from kettle donations does not support the adult rehabilitation center.