Captains Jimmy and Ashley Taylor are now serving as corps officers for the Salvation Army in Hagerstown.
“We love it. We missed being with the people in the field, being in the trenches, if you will,” said Jimmy Taylor.
The Taylor family, including their 8-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, recently moved to Hagerstown from Alexandria, Va.
After three years in that role, they were assigned to Hagerstown. They started on June 17.
“We’ve embraced the community and really love it. We see amazing opportunities to make a true difference, not in just Hagerstown, but Washington County,” Jimmy Taylor said.
Both of the Taylors grew up with parents who did Salvation Army ministry. As a result, they were transient – Jimmy growing up mostly in Georgia and Oklahoma, and Ashley in Texas, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Jimmy’s parents grew up in Prince George’s County, Md., but he’d never been to Hagerstown before moving here.
Since the Taylors got married 10 years ago, they have served with the Salvation Army in Atlanta, Greenville, S.C., Burlington, N.C., and Washington, D.C.
Jimmy has a background in public relations. He began his work with the Salvation Army as a public relations associate for the state of Texas.
While writing articles and taking photos during Hurricane Katrina, he felt the calling to ministry.
After two years in Atlanta for a “full-on” seminary program — similar to a seminary degree along with administrative training — Jimmy was commissioned and given an assignment.
While Jimmy misses the hustle and bustle of the big city, Ashley doesn’t — especially their 3-hour round-trip commute and the traffic.
“There are a lot of great things we want to build on in the community. We are strategically placed to meet the needs of the community,” Jimmy said of the organization’s location on West Franklin and George streets.
The calendar is busy. There is a 30-bed emergency shelter for women and children and the Manna food program, which feeds an average of 235 people a hot lunch Monday through Friday. There also is a new program called Pathway to Hope, a case management program for families to help them get back on their feet.
Jimmy sees the potential for using the gymnasium for youth programs while partnering with Boys & Girls Club and Girls to fill the gaps.
Jimmy is also pastor of the Salvation Army church and is grateful for the organization’s board members.
Priorities he identified include doing a better job letting the community know the Salvation Army’s story and collaborating with other agencies.
He wants to be a resource and “use what the Lord has given us to meet the most need,” he said.
Also, he wants to expand the programs and make them financially sustainable through donor gifts and grants.
Funding comes from private donors, grants and sales from the Salvation Army Thrift Shop on Frederick Street.
“Every day, I get to do what I love to do — reaching out to the community,” Jimmy Taylor said.