The name Faithe connotes divine inspiration. And faith is the cornerstone for our first honoree in the ‘Second Line” series. Now celebrating her third year as the Director of Community Relations at The Salvation Army of Greater Milwaukee, Faithe Colas is the personification of her faith, her values and her professional experiences.
Excited about her role, Colas says her current post is exactly what she needs in this “second-half” of her life. After working at the Milwaukee Courier for twenty years, concluding her career there as Publisher, and after getting her daughter through college, it was time for Faithe to embark on a new career. In that regard, The Salvation Army (TSA) has been a godsend for her.
“Over the years, I had any number of employment positions come across my desk and I quickly passed them on to others who might benefit”, she said. “When I saw the position with The Salvation Army, somehow I knew I should apply. It was the perfect combination of my faith, my advocacy and my career skills.”
“Oftentimes, as I learn more and more about the vastness of The Salvation Army, I am awed. It’s incredible. The more I learn, the more I want to share with others, including what we do locally as well as around the world. What we are doing in Haiti, helping people get back on their feet following that devastating earthquake, is an example of what The Salvation Army is called on in times of need. And Haiti is interesting, too, in that we have been working there for the last 60 years.”
The Salvation Army began its ministry in Haiti in 1950, setting up churches, schools, clinics, hospitals, feeding programs and homes for children. Today, The Salvation Army has over 60 worship and community centers in Haiti. The Salvation Army’s mission has always been to minister and meet the needs of people without discrimination of any kind.
When the earthquake hit Haiti, January 12, 2010 with a force of 7.0 on the Richter scale, The Salvation Army provided meals, water and spiritual support to first responders and the families of Haiti.
A recent radio-thon on 1290 WMCS, raised over $2,000 for The Salvation Army Haitian Relief Effort; and on-going campaigns are being developed so that The Salvation Army can continue its disaster relief efforts there. Weekly, plans are being finalized to begin the second stage, the rebuilding process. That will be months, so it is imperative that our commitment be long-range. With news and compelling photos driving interest in these catastrophes in the early stages, it is essential that efforts be made to continue to make the public aware of the needs of those affected in the weeks, months and maybe years following disasters like the Haitian quake. That country and the people impacted will need long-term monetary support so that reconstruction and restoration are a reality.
Colas stated to date $10.2 million has been raised for The Salvation Army Haiti Relief Fund. And, during the first week over 2 million meals had been served to Haitians, first responders, people in clinics; make shift hospitals, street-camps and children’s homes.
Recently, a man was pulled from the rubble, after twenty-eight days. He was taken immediately to one of The Salvation Army hospitals. Amazingly, he continues to improve. On a daily basis, 250 people are served in TSA clinics and 20,000 people are still in camps in Port au Prince. The needs are still profound! “The Salvation Army will continue to provide support until the healing is complete.”
Pledges of monthly amounts, over the next year, would be the optimal way to really make a difference in Haiti. Hurricane Katrina was five years ago, and still many areas of New Orleans are attempting to rebuild. Haiti’s restoration will probably be similar.
Readers may continue their donations to The Salvation Army Haitian Relief Fund by visiting the website at www.SAmilwauikee.org.
Faithe has been a great asset for The Salvation Army. Well known in the community and at ease when making new acquaintances, Colas has been the perfect spokesperson for The Salvation Army. Unquestionably, her presence has increased the visibility of the organization, diversifying its already massive service area. This expanded awareness has increased the success of the Christmas Family Feast, which has been feeding families for 20 years, and in the more recent response to calls for aid for Haiti.
Faithe represents the wonder of the Second Line. She has expanded her professional experiences and her personal values and melded a phenomenal information, education, communications, advocacy platform that strengthens and betters our community; and the international community. It is said that charity begins at home and spreads abroad. This adage takes on greater significance as we look at her first line, the foundation, the heritage that molded the person, Faithe Colas.
Faithe is the oldest of six. Her father, Floyd Thomas has been an entrepreneur since graduating from high school, some 49 years ago, which probably makes the family business one of the oldest Black businesses in the city of Milwaukee. Faithe grew up with a strong sense of owning your own business and providing for yourself and others. Her mom, Helen (Thomas) McCray, was one of Milwaukee’s first African American fashion models for then famed Rosemary Bishop Modeling Agency and parent leader, is the consummate mother and grandmother, a “take charge” person who insisted upon the best food, shelter, clothing and education for her family.
Faithe’s grandmother is Lucille Berrien, the first black candidate for Mayor of Milwaukee and a community activist who has led innumerable change-oriented campaigns on housing, taxes, child welfare issues and the criminal justice system. “As a child, my Grandmother was my very first girlfriend; she would pick me up every Saturday morning and take me to find antiques, collect stamps, tea cups and coins. I learned a lot and fostered a deep appreciation for older women. “She taught me early in my life to see the world beyond my block”.
These First Line foundations have been the precursors for our “Second Line” success. From heritage and familial strengths, Faithe Colas charts a course that opens doors for those who follow, including her daughter Paige. Paige is a graduate of the University of the Arts who now expands the accomplishments of the earlier generations. Paige represents five living generations; Patsy McCray, her great, great grandmother, Lucille Berrien, her great grandmother, Helen McCray, her grandmother and Faithe, her mom. Jointly they have made Milwaukee a better place in which to live, grow and succeed.
We honor Faithe Colas, Director of Community Relations for The Salvation Army of Greater Milwaukee as a” Second Line” example of excellence in 2010.