It may seem like an odd combination, The Bulldog and the Salvation Army. But we actually have a lot in common. Much like the Salvation Army, our doors are open to everyone, we offer a safe living room environment for people to relax and we support those in need in many different ways.
And that’s no coincidence.
It all began when founder Henk de Vries was only 6 years old. At the time he was a little rascal, often getting into trouble on the streets of Amsterdam. Life was tough and full of crime and violence. But there was one person in the Red Light District who was looking out for Henk and the people there: Alida Bosshardt, commonly known as Major Bosshardt of the Salvation Army. She showed compassion where others didn’t and created a little light in the darkness.
As he was Major Bosshardt’s next door neighbour, Henk came under her wing and was greatly influenced by her look on life and unconditional love and care for her fellow man. She helped him find his way in life and be the man he is today. In time Major Bosshardt even became like a second mother to Henk. Their relationship remained strong and lasted for decades, until Major Bosshardt sadly passed away in 2007.
Henk would never forget the life lessons Major Bosshardt taught him. As soon as The Bulldog began operating as a business, he wanted to show his gratitude to Major Bosshardt and the Salvation Army. It started small, with donations of socks, underwear and other essentials, but as his business grew he was soon able to do more. And that he did with all his heart.
One of our most important activities is cooking for the hungry. Twice a month our staff members shop for groceries and cook meals for The Salvation Army guests at their shelter in The Red Light District. In the cold winter months when warm, healthy food is most important, we step up a gear and help out more often. To also reach out to the homeless of Amsterdam beyond the Red Light District we participate in a mobile soup bus distributing food. Through this hands-on approach we never lose touch with our community and are continuously reminded how lucky we are.
To help people in poverty feel a little better about themselves we host many different activities for the people visiting the Salvation Army. From time to time we take them on holidays and we organise spa days at the Salvation Army’s Amsterdam headquarters, where people can get massages, manicures, haircuts and more. At night, they’re the stars of a variety show, where they perform specially dressed up and made up for the occasion. To help the people stay clean and healthy, our staff give them cosmetics and care products. All to give them a little more self esteem and happiness.
Around Christmas, times are extra tough when you’re homeless or poor. That’s why in December, together with the Salvation Army, we make an extra effort to warm the peoples’ hearts. From the start, we handed out Christmas bread and in time we started doing more. We participate in the Salvation Army’s Christmas activities, host Christmas dinners ourselves, give toys to children and personal hygiene products to teenagers and on top of that one of us dresses up to play Santa and make everyone feel merry during the most wonderful time of the year.
The Salvation Army will always have a special place in our heart. What started as a bond between a young boy and his neighbour, has grown into a strong and caring relationship between two global organisations. We are proud to associate ourselves with the Salvation Army and we’ll continue working together in the future to help those who need it most.