Freddy Choo is the Manager for Retail and Marketing at Salvos Stores. Freddy was a Fellows recipient in 2011 and with his scholarship, he did research and fieldwork into how The Salvation Army can make a difference in challenging social exclusion, rebuilding hurting communities and putting The Salvation Army’s mission at the heart of abandoned communities.
What inspired you to apply for the Fellows Program?
The first time I saw the advertisement for the Fellows Program, I knew it was going to be an answer to prayer. I had returned from London with a heavy heart after seeing how the youths rallied together and rioted the suburbs and brought London down to its knees.
I had also been following the recovery progress and learned quickly how disengaged the youth were.
With the Fellows Scholarship, I was inspired to do in-depth field work in the UK on the theme of challenging social exclusion.
How has the Fellows Program allowed you to overcome barriers, and achieve your educational/professional goals?
The Fellows Program meant I could focus on the research and fieldwork because it took care of the financial burden. It opened doors and widened my horizons. It motivated me and I felt that my past contributions to The Salvation Army was acknowledged and validated. It was a dream come true and I was able to connect with Officers and staff at IHQ, THQ UK, Corps in London, Manchester and Belfast.
What have you been able to achieve/implement into your workplace since the completion of your course?
Salvos Stores launched Salvonista Mobile Boutique - our first "pop-up" fashion store with the aim to reach out to youth and engage with them. The Salvonista van is designed to appeal and be relevant to the youth of today. It is solar-powered, has a graffiti wall, smart phone charging bank and of course funky and affordable fashion. We won three national marketing awards.
I've also written a paper on "Community Connection - How Salvos Stores can make a difference championing Social Inclusion". Based on that, and working with our Outreach Co-ordinator and Mission Director, we now have a regular outreach program throughout the network of stores, offering free tea and coffee to customers, engage with them in conversations and often end up with prayer for them.
Having completed your course or conference program, how have you been able to positively influence the work and mission of The Salvation Army?
The Salvos Stores are better equipped in the involvement of the Hub journey, Others Week, Forward Together and the overall mission of The Salvation Army.
We've also just completed a series of workshops with all our Store Managers on "Community Connection" so the workplace culture embraces and champions social inclusion. This has also evolved into a transformation project for us.
How have you personally benefitted from this opportunity?
I have immensely benefited from this opportunity! I've made lifelong connections with like-minded passionate people, locally and overseas. I was fascinated with the Incarnational Ministry and Community Transformation ministry of the Ryde Corps and I now worship and serve at Ryde Salvos.
Do you have any further plans to study in the near future?
Yes I do and I was inspired to explore the possibility of doing a PhD in the same field.
What advice would you give others who are interested in applying for a Fellows Program?
Seek the heart of God for your role in The Salvation Army and the difference you would make in your community. Apply for the Fellows scholarship and see how God can unfold the plan each step of the way.