Published Saturday, October 06, 2012
From Staff Reports
The annual Salvation Army luncheon included special music, a delicious lunch, words of inspiration – even a visit from the Salvation Army’s founder.
The Newnan Service Center held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on Sept. 7. The luncheon was held at Wesley Woods of Newnan-Peachtree City.
Kevin and Alison Wallace sang, and the keynote remarks were by James A. Morrow, extension service director with the Salvation Army headquarters in Atlanta.
Local advisory board member Larry Repass enacted the part of William Booth (1829-1912), the British minister who founded the Salvation Army.
“This year, we celebrate 15 years of operations of the Salvation Army on Jefferson Street – 15 years,” Morrow said.
He asked those present to reflect on the last 15 years. “Think about what’s changed in your life. Think about what’s changed in this community,” Morrow said.
The Salvation Army, he posited, is one of the facets of community life that has changed in ways “you could never imagine.”
Morrow said, “You never would have imagined that the need in the Salvation Army is far greater today than it was 15 years ago.”
Morrow talked about the thousands given in assistance during the 15-year period. “We don’t do that alone. We do that because of individuals like you and your support,” he said.
He said people’s lives are changed when they have “a personal connection with that red shield.” Because of the Salvation Army’s red shield, “the message of hope has been delivered.”
Morrow said the people in the room had seen the impact of the red shield “in our life or someone else’s.”
People often come to the Salvation Army “literally at the end of their rope,” Morrow said. “They come filled with despair. ... Far too often they come with very little hope left.”
The service center helps with food, clothing – sometimes a utility bill or rent assistance. “More importantly, they leave with dignity and a little bit of hope restored,” Morrow said.
Morrow grew up in the Salvation Army. “My personal connection with that red shield was every day of my life,” he said. Early in life, he understood the Army ministered with “more than a doughnut and a cup of coffee.”
Booth “would be excited about the expansion of the Salvation Army’s work right here in Newnan” and in more than 120 countries, Morrow said.
Morrow talked about how people who come to the Salvation Army hear and experience Christ’s love. He spoke of a woman who told him she did not want to leave a shelter following a tornado. She said there were people who loved her at the shelter and no one at home.
He also reflected on what a medallion that cost $1.99 meant to a camper at Camp Grandview.
The boy, who had loved swimming, did not want to get in the water after the awards ceremony. “I don’t want to get my medallion wet, Mr. Jim. I think this is the best day of my life,” the youngster told Morrow.
“Because of your local support to the Salvation Army, you allow Stephanie (May), the advisory board and our staff to present a personal encounter, a personal experience with the red shield,” Morrow said.
“You become the red shield when you donate,” he said.
“We thank you for what you do,” Morrow concluded. “The need is even greater today than it was yesterday.”
Bette Hickman, co-chairman of the advisory board, gave the welcome and a bit of history about the ministry. “A few gentlemen knew that we needed to have the Salvation Army in our town” in 1993, she said.
Doug Cantrell, Vernon “Mutt” Hunter, Bill Loftin and Don Phillips were traveling together when the topic came up. The four worked to make the local service center a reality.
Hickman noted there were plates of doughnuts on each table – a reminder of doughnuts made “on the field” by “some of the first leading Salvationists” during World War II.
She said people often associate the Salvation Army with red kettles and donations at Christmas. “It’s really not about donations,” Hickman said. “It is doing what Jesus would do.”
Winston Skinner, chairman of the advisory board, introduced the Wallaces, who head Bridging the Gap, a multi-faceted local ministry that began with taking food being discarded by grocery stores and getting it to people who need it.
“Many people in our community who would otherwise be hungry are not because of what Kevin and Alison do every day,” Skinner said.
Board members Dr. Robert Calhoun and the Rev. Joshua Hickman have the invocation and benediction, respectively.