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Chaplain of Bell Shelter for Homeless Offers Job Help Along With His Sermons

November 18, 1990|LEE HARRIS

Every Thursday night, the Rev. Bill Shaw preaches an old-fashioned, Bible-thumping sermon to the men and women at the Salvation Army homeless shelter in Bell.

It is not a requirement, but most of the homeless at the 200-bed shelter attend the services out of respect for Shaw, according to shelter administrators and homeless people whose lives the Southern Baptist preacher has touched.

"He cares for people and he works well with them," said Salvation Army Capt. Scott Ramsey, commander and administrator of the Bell shelter.

Ramsey said Shaw has made a positive impact in the eight months that he has been chaplain and coordinator of programs at the shelter.

Shaw not only prays for the homeless, but he takes practical steps to try to help them improve their lives, said Reginald Gilbert, a homeless man who has been coming to the shelter for about six months.

Gilbert said Shaw helped him receive training that led to a job as a check-processing clerk at the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. Gilbert, 30, continues to sleep at the shelter while he saves enough money to rent an apartment.

Shaw selected Gilbert and seven other homeless people to attend a four-month course at the Banking Institute, a private vocational school in Los Angeles that provides training to disadvantaged students for jobs in the banking industry. Tuitions were paid with federal funds.

Four of the homeless participants dropped out, but Gilbert, John Wade and Charles Tennant recently graduated from the vocational school.

Wade and Tennant are also living at the shelter while they search for work. They are currently being interviewed by various banks.

Tennant said Shaw "takes money from his own pocket to help us. He will give us money for things like lunch."

In addition to sending the students to the vocational school, Shaw tries to help find jobs for the homeless through the state Employment Development Department. At the end of his sermons, Shaw asks if anyone is interested in a specific job being offered through the employment department. He said he generally refers three or four people to contacts he has made through the employment department.

Before taking his present job, Shaw had been a traveling evangelist.

"I heard about the job as soon as I came to Los Angeles more than eight months ago. Capt. Ramsey interviewed me and I got the job," said Shaw, 40, who had been living in Dallas. He now lives in Los Angeles with his son Ashley, 13. His wife, Nancy, and daughter, Audra, 15, are still in Dallas.

Shaw said he shared some of the same misconceptions others have about the homeless, believing "they are lazy and don't want to work."

He said he has found many homeless people "do want to succeed but for various reasons have fallen on bad times. All they need is some help and they respond."

As a tribute to Shaw, more than 100 of the homeless signed a letter recently that expressed their appreciation for the preacher. The letter was sent to Shaw's superiors at the Salvation Army. A copy was also sent to President Bush.

Cal State Long Beach English professor Robert Bell has been granted knighthood in the Sovereign and Military Order of the Knights of Templar of Jerusalem of Edinburgh, Scotland. The order of knights was organized during the Christian Crusades in 1118 in an attempt to recover the Holy Land from the Moslems. The group is involved in charitable causes today.

A scholar of the Middle Ages, Bell was one of 25 people from around the world to be honored during a ceremony in Edinburgh. Bell said the order was aware of his studies of the history of the Knights Templar and asked him to join.

"The honor doesn't come with any land, but I get to call myself 'Sir,' " said Bell, who has taught at the university for 24 years.

Bell also received the order's white cape and golden cross necklace.

* Lee Powers, principal of the ABC Unified School District Adult School, has been appointed a regional chairman of the Adult Education Committee of the Assn. of California School Administrators. The committee studies education issues. Powers represents Region 14, which includes the schools in the Southeast area, Culver City and Beverly Hills. There are 18 regions throughout the state. The organization has more than 15,000 members.

* Jean Wilson is the new associate dean for graduate studies and research at Cal State Long Beach. Wilson was previously an education department chairperson at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Wilson has a bachelor's degree from Kentucky Wesleyan College, a master's degree from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate in education from Indiana University.

* Downey resident Marjorie F. Davis has been honored as one of the year's top 10 businesswomen by the American Business Women's Assn. The association, which has more than 3,000 members, recognizes 10 of its members each year for outstanding professional and civic contributions. Davis is executive vice president of Heger Realty Corp. of Los Angeles, which specializes in industrial real estate throughout Southern California. Davis, a member of the association since 1959, was elected national president in 1965.

* David Rofsky has been named manager of the Willow-Daisy branch of the Bank of America in Long Beach. Rofsky has been with the bank since 1979.

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