Even at a young age, Rachel and Jared Martin knew they wanted to serve others.
The Martins arrived in Winchester last week to head up the local Salvation Army at 300 Fort Collier Road. Monday was their first day on the job. The Martins, who are lieutenants in the international charitable organization and Christian church, succeed Capts. Kelly and Regina Durant, who are now located in Prince William County.
“I grew up in the Salvation Army and the Salvation Army church,” said 38-year-old Jared, who was raised in Independence, Missouri, and represents the fourth generation in his family to be involved with the Salvation Army. “I was volunteering even when I was a kid. My first paid job was with the Salvation Army when I was 16.”
The Martins, who have been married for 14½ years, have served as leaders within the Salvation Army organization for about a decade. Prior to coming to the Winchester area, they served in Culpeper and Maryville, Tennessee.
They met while they were students at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. At the time, Jared was volunteering and working at the Salvation Army in Kankakee, Illinois.
“On campus he was known as ‘Mr. Salvation Army’ because he wore his uniform a lot,” said Rachel, 37.
“She was studying social work, I was studying religion,” Jared said. “And one of the first things that she said is that she wants to be involved in a Christian social services agency. I said, ‘I know one of those.’”
A short time later, Rachel began volunteering with the Salvation Army.
“We felt God was very directly telling us this is the way he wants us to invest our lives,” said Jared. “The calling of the Salvation Army officer is to win people to know Jesus as their savior, to be a friend of the friendless, to live a life of kindness and service that is self-sacrificial, one that is full of faith. And I think that’s a calling that’s amazing.”
The Martins, who have three children — Anna, 13; Judah, 11; and Knightley, 8 — arrive in Winchester at a time where the demand for the Salvation Army’s services has risen, but revenue streams have been gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 15,000 people receive help annually from the local Salvation Army. The organization operates a 48-bed emergency shelter at 300 Fort Collier Road, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily to those in need, totaling about 42,000 meals each year. Financial assistance to help pay utility bills is also available.
The Martins said job layoffs resulting from the pandemic have brought more people to the Salvation Army for help.
“There is a significant need for people who have the capacity to give to stand up and make sure we are able to continue that mission for those who are homeless and those who are in need of utilities assistance,” Jared said.
Currently, the shelter only has 40 beds available due to social distancing requirements, though the Martins say the shelter is not at full capacity at the moment.
In March, the local Salvation Army had to temporarily close its thrift store at 320 Weems Lane in Winchester to adhere to social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The store’s closure led to a significant loss in revenue for the nonprofit, forcing the layoffs of several employees.
But the the store is expected to reopen at 9 a.m. today. Jared said the reopening is something the Salvation Army has been working on for awhile.
“We laid off people from the store when the store closed,” Jared said. “As soon as we were in a spot where it was safe to open the store, the first thing that we did is contact the people and gave everybody who’s qualified the opportunity to step back into their jobs.”
Rachel said she wants to improve the Salvation Army’s interactions and outreach with the local community.
And Jared hopes people will turn to the Salvation Army in their time of need.
“We hope this is a place of hope where people will be able to come with their brokenness and find healing in every area of their life — spiritually, physically, emotionally,” he said. “That somebody who has been destroyed by this world will be able to find refuge and a shield to protect them.”
— Contact Josh Janney at email@example.com