Salvation Army Salvationist Serving His Country

Staying in touch: Hernandez keeping ties with The Salvation Army as he serves his country

Before arriving at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina this summer, Wilber Hernandez was quite busy. The young man previously enrolled in the Marine Corps Musician Enlistment Option Program and, from there, Hernandez spent 13 weeks in boot camp and an additional month in combat training. Then, Hernandez attended the Naval School of Music, Marine Detachment, all prior to touching down at Camp Lejeune. Along the way, however, Hernandez never lost touch with The Salvation Army.

“I’m very busy, but every chance I get, I definitely want to stay involved,” Hernandez said. “If I’m going to go to a church, it’s going to be The Salvation Army wherever I am.”

Hernandez, from the Montgomery County, Maryland, Corps, recently returned from a mini-deployment in California. He is looking forward to planting deeper roots where he now resides just a stone’s throw from the Jacksonville, North Carolina, Corps. Well before he entered the military, though, it was clear that Hernandez was a strong Christian and a dedicated Salvationist, ready to share his faith with others.

“Wilber was a delegate at the NCV Divisional Music Conservatory when I first met him, and I remember Wilber as quiet and competitive,” said Bernie Dake, assistant territorial music secretary. “I witnessed an authenticity and a sensitivity that set him apart from other young people his age.”

“I’m incredibly proud of him as a Christian young man and Salvationist,” Dake said. “When I saw him recently, I asked him how he was doing and if he still loved the Lord. His response, without hesitation, was ‘most definitely. I love him now more than ever.’ You could sense his excitement and zeal.”

Upon arrival in his current post as a lance corporal in the Second Marine Division, it was clear to Hernandez that there was an opportunity for ministry. His military duties extend well beyond his position as a trumpet instrumentalist but, in service to others, he has invited more than a handful of his military co-workers to Salvation Army activities. One such gathering was a trip to the National Capital and Virginia Divisional Music Councils, honoring an invite from a person he describes as a “mentor” in NCV divisional music director David Delaney.

“My friends have really liked it,” Hernandez said. “I open it up to everybody, knowing that the military isn’t religious as an organization, but telling everyone what to expect. I have several friends who have loved the experience, both musically and even with spiritual elements. One of my friends, who identifies as an atheist, was curious enough to search out information on The Salvation Army, and another has been open with me in discussing his faith.”

In addition to the inherent ministry of bringing others to church-related gatherings, Hernandez intends to bring that passion to the local corps. He is already attending in Jacksonville – after saying he “found the corps on Google” when he came to the area – but, when January rolls around and travel commitments slow, he has big plans.

“Right now, one of the things I want to do is incorporate live worship in the corps,” said Hernandez. “That can have a great impact, especially in a smaller community. I’m also interested in, and have been talking to the local officer, kind of starting a beginner band program in Jacksonville. I’m already communicating with them about playing at a few kettles this season as well, with a few of my friends from the military. I think that’s a great ministry, too, and it’ll be interesting to see how much we can really help with that.”

For a young adult with a lot on his plate, Hernandez defies the odds in committing so much to ministry. Still, he seems to find passion in his own background, looking to pay that forward to others.

“I can tell my friends that I’ve been involved with the Army for 10 years and that this particular thing saved me,” Hernandez said. “The Salvation Army saved my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without it and I’m the first to say that to anyone.”


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Last year, more than 260,000 kids attended a summer or day camp with The Salvation Army, primarily at one of its 44 camps across the U.S. This is just one account of a life impacted at summer camp. Camp is about giving kids hope—a new perspective about who they are and what they can do in this world. I made up an acronym to clarify my vision: Helping Obscured Potential Emerge. With God’s help we encourage kids to see that they have unlimited potential in this world.

I’ll never forget an 8-year-old girl with a disfigured face who came to camp. During my first chapel I told the kids, “God loves you” and “God thinks you’re beautiful.”

Afterward, the girl came up to me and said, “God doesn’t love me.”

“Why do you think that? I asked.

“Because I’m ugly,” she said. “Even my family says I’m ugly.”

My heart was sad, but I smiled and said, “You know what? I know God loves you. He says he does, and God never lies. God does think you’re beautiful. And so, do I.”

She shrugged and walked away.

At the final chapel of the week, we told the kids they could come up and speak to God about becoming part of his family. This little girl was one of many who spent time talking to God and receiving Jesus in his or her heart. We asked the campers to tell someone right away about what they did, so I went outside to wait for them to share with me.

One of the last kids out was this girl. She came over to me and said, “You know what?”


“God loves me,” she said.

“I know,” I said, and we high-fived.

She turned and started to go, then stopped and turned around.

“You know what else?”

“No, what?”

“God thinks I’m beautiful!” She gave me a hug, turned and ran off.

Hope? New perspective? Yep, we can do that.  Amen.

= = =

From Caring, a publication of The Salvation Army that is dedicated to helping you do good right where you are.

Salvation Army Hires New Development Director

Greg Tuck, CFRE to Lead Development Operations for The Salvation Army National Capital & Virginia Division.

The Salvation Army National Capital & Virginia Division welcomes Greg Tuck, CFRE as the new Divisional Director of Development. Tuck will manage the day to day operations of the divisional development department and support Salvation Army field units in building their resource development operations throughout Virginia and the National Capital area.

Just prior to coming to D.C., Tuck was the executive director at Star Lake Camp and Conference Center, a premier Salvation Army facility in Bloomingdale, New Jersey. While there, Tuck provided leadership of the operations, including a $5 million capital improvement plan for the camp. Tuck also oversaw the development and construction of the $3.5 million Chapel at Worthington Woods that serves as a church home and community center for the north side of Columbus, Ohio. Tuck has a strong background in nonprofit management as well as deep family ties to The Salvation Army with parents who served as officers in South Africa, England and Sri Lanka. His passion to help people and communities affected by poverty will be a driving force behind his work in this area.

“Greg brings a wealth of knowledge in the non-profit and fundraising arena to our Division,” said Lt. Colonel Mark Israel, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army National Capital & Virginia Division. “In his past service to The Salvation Army he has demonstrated expertise in building relationships and partnerships. He will be a great asset to our Division as we grow programs to serve those in need in God’s name.”

The motto “Be Prepared” took on a new meaning for Salvation Army Lieutenant Alphonso Hughes this past weekend from the Tornado

Ready to Serve when Tornado Hits Close to Home

The motto “Be Prepared” took on a new meaning for Salvation Army Lieutenant Alphonso Hughes this past weekend. Most days you will find Lt. Hughes in northern Virginia, where he serves as an assistant at The Salvation Army Alexandria Corps, but last week a family emergency called him home to Columbus, Mississippi. Late Saturday evening, April 13, as tornadoes hit a couple of towns over in Monroe County, Lt. Hughes was in contact with the Columbus Corps to see what help he could provide to their staff and volunteers. “I knew their lieutenant was at women’s retreat, so I wanted to help. It happened really fast and we were told to ‘just go!’” explained Lt. Hughes.

While he and youth evangelism and outreach director, Melvin Franklin, could not get the mobile feeding unit into storm ravaged neighborhoods, they were able to set up a distribution site. They selected a location that was easily accessible to first responders and members of the community. In addition to providing water and snacks, neighbors came by with donations such as tarps that could be distributed to those in need.

By Monday morning, all local officers were back on the job and an EOC was established. Even though Lt. Hughes was not needed on the front lines, he came back to the Corps to help make sandwiches and pack supplies. “You never know when you are going to be called to God’s service. This reminds me to always be ready,” shared Lt. Hughes. “Even when I was going through personal worries for the issues my family is facing unrelated to the storm, God provided me an opportunity to step outside of that and share his love with other people.”

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index ( The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

Martinsville shelter helps warm a former teacher's heart on cold nights. When the weather is a bit warmer than the nearly single-digit temperatures

Martinsville shelter helps warm a former teacher’s heart on cold nights

When the weather is a bit warmer than the nearly single-digit temperatures that chattered teeth this week, Phillip Ian Whipp said he likes to sleep in his car, a “tiny” 2013 Fiat 500.

Fortunately, he also could find comfort at his other preferred resting place, the overnight warming shelter in the Salvation Army building on South Memorial Boulevard.

The shelter accommodates up to 20 people with a place to sleep, meals, beverages, clothing and other items, from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week on days when the temperature is forecast to be 32 degrees or lower.

Thursday morning was supposed to dip to 12 degrees, with chill factors making the air colder.

During that snap the shelter has remained open during the days, so guests “don’t have to leave in the morning,” Lt. Ruby Keith said. The center will remain open through Saturday night and will close on Sunday, because low temperatures are expected to be about 40 degrees. The shelter has been open about 15 nights this year.

Typically about five to seven guests visit the shelter — mostly men but sometimes women and children, too — where they sleep on cots in a 30-by-15-foot room called a fellowship hall. The women and families are housed in separate space down a hallway.

Whipp, 58, estimated on a recent snowy night that he has stayed at the shelter about 20 nights since he first visited last year, when emotional problems led to eviction from the apartment where he was living next to “noisy neighbors” who left him unable to relax.

“I got behind with the rent, and they kicked me out, which has been the best thing ever,” he said.

He said he went to Piedmont Community Services, which sent him to a local psychiatric ward, where he spent several nights last January. “I was chronic depressive with suicidal tendencies. I couldn’t see a way forward,” he said.

But with that help hose mental health issue are under control, he said.

“It’s medicated,” he said, “plus the fact I now have absolutely the best neighbors in the world” – referring to nights when he sleeps in his car – “where I park I’m surrounded by wildlife, and no one bothers me.”

And the other nights, he’s at the warming shelter, a place he loves.

“This place is heaven … absolute heaven,” he said. “They feed you. They provide you with this jacket … boots, underwear, socks. “They have cots for everybody. I, by choice, sleep on the floor (the shelter provides him a pile of blankets and a couple of pillows).”

He said he likes the camaraderie among the regulars who stay at the shelter. They talk and can watch television and play checkers. And he praises the managers and volunteers who take care of the guests.

He called volunteer Sarah Sacra “an angel” and said “she’s got a heart of gold.”

“I make fresh coffee and fetch drinks, serve the hot meals, clean up, run the dishwasher,” said Sacra, who smiled as she chatted with Whipp while making him a grilled-cheese sandwich.

She also makes sure clients don’t need anything for that day, such as clothing items and toiletries, and asks them if they need to talk to a minister or someone else about private issues.

Sacra said the shelter is not just for homeless people.

“You could have just lost your power, and it’s cold, and you need heat,” she said. “Sometimes this is transitional. It’s a pit stop. It’s not the end. It could very well be me sitting at the table.”

Whipp said he works part time as a sales associate for a local company, earning about $9,000 a year. He makes payment on his Fiat and owes about $25,000 in college loans and $75,000 in medical bills.

Whipp is from Oxford, England, and has lived in the United States for 22 years, in this area since 2016. He said he is a former public school math teacher, and he said he’s looking to his future.

“This year, I’ve spent getting my head right from the ‘terrorism’ of the previous year,” he said. “Then I’m hoping to move forward. I’ve just about got things right now.

“I’m comfortable, and I’m in a great frame of mind. So I need to start weaning myself off medication. … Then I’ll be in a better position to go anywhere in the country to use my skills.”

Captain Malaika Good "An unquenchable desire for relationship and love"

Captain Malaika Good “An unquenchable desire for relationship and love”

I was born and raised in a Muslim family in Roanoke, Virginia. We worshiped at the mosque, wore our head coverings, prayed five times a day, stayed away from pork, and practiced the religion in all its entirety. And yet, it was just that, religion.

My father was in and out of prison most of my life, and my mother worked multiple jobs to keep us afloat. Because of this, an unquenchable desire for relationship and love grew within me.

When I was eight, my cousins invited me to go skating at a “community center” in Roanoke. My mom, excited for a babysitting service, allowed my sister and me to attend, and thus started my introduction to The Salvation Army. There, my desire for love and acceptance started to be fulfilled as officers and local leaders began to pour into me and teach me the gospel truth.

For years, my parents allowed me to attend this “community center,” not realizing that through this, I met the One and Only true God.

I quickly became a Sunbeam, Junior Soldier, active in the music programs, and attended faithfully any program and event I could. I went to Camp Happyland every summer and attended youth councils and TYI. My relationship with the Lord grew, and my desire to give Him all of Malaika grew with it. With every new officer, I felt the love and acceptance that I had so desperately craved from living in a single mother household.

Through all of this, my mother became aware of my conversion and relationship with Christ, but my father, still a practicing Muslim, was not in the know.

One Sunday, my corps officer, Captain Tabitha Roberts, asked me if I had given any thought to officership. This idea was completely foreign to me, yet was so very close to who I was. My desire in life was to be loved, be known and have relationships, and here was an offer to bring about the very change I had so desperately craved as a young girl. I knew, in that moment, this was the calling God had placed on my life.

There were many obstacles to get to the point of Salvation Army officership – my father, my age, issues within my family. Yet with every obstacle, the God who called me was faithful and settled every problem. Through God’s grace, I was able to be completely open with my father, who unexpectedly supported and encouraged me.

I attended Evangeline Booth College in 2011 at the age of 18 and was commissioned with the Friends of Christ session. Every day, I have the privilege to bring about holy change in the lives of those I encounter, the same change officers helped ignite in me as an 8-year-old Muslim girl from a single mother household.

God has called me to be a Salvation Army officer and to reach those who are like that young 8-year-old girl.

Captain Malaika Good is a corps officer in Hampton, Virginia.

Original Article Featured in The Southern Spirit Online

Wintry weather brings Christmas spirit during Red Kettle Campaign launch

Wintry weather brings Christmas spirit during Red Kettle Campaign launch

Snowy weather on Thursday closed schools and government offices, but it didn’t stop the local Salvation Army from holding its annual Red Kettle Campaign kickoff at Apple Blossom Mall.

About 20 people attended the event — a smaller crowd than usual — which Salvation Army Capt. Kelly Durant attributed to the weather.

Berryville Mayor Patricia Dickinson, who was slated to be the keynote speaker, was unable to attend due to the hazardous road conditions. Still, Durant was able to find a silver lining in the season’s first snowfall.

“It kind of makes it more exciting,” Durant said. “It gets the early Christmas spirit going. It’s a winter wonderland already.”

The Red Kettle fundraising campaign runs until Dec. 24. It involves volunteers ringing a bell and soliciting donations at numerous locations around the community from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday (no Sundays). Shifts tend to last four to eight hours.

This year, Red Kettles and bell ringers will be stationed at Apple Blossom Mall, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Big Lots and the Shop ‘n Save in Berryville. The Shop ‘n Save stores in Winchester and Frederick County recently closed.

The Salvation Army hopes to raise $140,000 this year. Last year, its campaign fell nearly $18,000 short of its $150,000 goal.

“We are disappointingly probably going to make less because we lost five locations of Shop ‘n Save,” Durant said. “But we are still going to work and do our best to raise about $140,000.”

The Salvation Army currently has 60 bell ringers, but it could use about 40 more.

Money raised during the campaign will serve families in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties who are in need of food, temporary housing and other assistance.

The Salvation Army has a homeless shelter at 300 Fort Collier Road with 48 beds. The shelter serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Tara McInturff, director of marketing for Apple Blossom Mall, commended the Salvation Army during the kickoff.

“It really shows the Salvation Army’s dedication to our community that they continue to hold this event on this snowy and icy day,” McInturff said. “They are truly here for our community.”

During the kickoff, the Salvation Army Brass Band of the National Capital Area played Christmas carols such as “Silver Bells” and “Jingle Bells” while those in attendance rang small handheld bells.

Later today, Apple Blossom Mall plans to set up a tree for the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Angel Tree program, which provides holiday gifts to local children.

People who want to purchase presents for a child at Christmas can select an angel-shaped tag from one of the Christmas trees that will be placed in public locations throughout the Winchester area. The angel will contain information about the child, such as name, age and Christmas wish list. People can buy gifts for the Angel Tree program until Dec. 20. The gifts will be brought to a distribution center, where they will be ready for pick up before Christmas.

Families who want to register their children for gifts through the Angel Tree program still have time, as the Salvation Army extended the registration deadline until 3 p.m. Sunday. Registration must be done in person at 300 Fort Collier Road.

When registering for the program, parents or caregivers must bring a valid photo ID, passport or consulate card to identify themselves. They must also provide proof of residence, proof of income, and birth certificates of all children (up to age 12) being registered, as well as custody or guardianship papers if the applicant is not the biological parent. Expecting mothers will need to a due date document from a physician if their child will be born before Dec. 25.

For more information, visit the Salvation Army’s website at or call 540-662-4777.

Broker/Owner, Al Abbitt, and Director of Operations, Brooke Scutt, were presented the award for "2017 Donor of the Year" by The Salvation Army

RE/MAX Peninsula awarded “2017 Donor of the Year” by The Salvation Army of the Virginia Peninsula

Broker/Owner, Al Abbitt, and Director of Operations, Brooke Scutt, were presented the award for “2017 Donor of the Year” by The Salvation Army of the Virginia Peninsula.

“Our group was so moved by the Angel Tree program and the Salvation Army striving to provide Christmas to thousands of children on the Peninsula. However, three weeks before Christmas there were still nearly 600 children in danger of being forgotten and having no Christmas. Our team rallied with adopting angels, sharing the message throughout of networks and raising additional funds. In 2017, all 4,654 “Angels” we’re adopted, something we were incredibly honored to be a part of,” says Scutt.

About RE/MAX Peninsula:
RE/MAX Peninsula is a local, veteran owned and operated full- service real estate brokerage with offices at 25 Diligence Drive, Suite 126, Newport News, 5400 Discovery Park Blvd. Suite 101, Williamsburg, and 6549 Main Street, Suite 2, Gloucester, VA.. Founded in 1992, the brokerage has over 70 Realtors® and specializes in residential real estate and property management. RE/MAX Peninsula is a proud supporter of Children’s Miracle Network Hospital® and various local organizations.

Winchester resident Carolyn Griffin was given a surprise honor Friday during a meeting of the Salvation Army Advisory Board.

City woman receives honor from Salvation Army Winchester

WINCHESTER — For nearly 50 years, city resident Carolyn Griffin has served as a volunteer with the local Salvation Army. When asked why she has stayed involved with the nonprofit organization for five decades she said, “If I sit down, I’ll never get back up.”

An international Christian charity, the Salvation Army’s local headquarters is the Center of Hope Shelter, at 300 Fort Collier Road, which provides food and shelter to individuals and families in need.

Griffin, 77, was presented a Certificate of Life Membership award Friday afternoon at the local shelter during a luncheon for Salvation Army Advisory Board members.

“Just to know, there are only a handful of people that ever get this,” said Salvation Army Captain Kelly Durant as he handed Griffin the award. He said it was “phenomenal” that she has stuck with the organization for so long.

“This is truly an honor,” Griffin said.

Griffin joined the Salvation Army in 1969, after being recruited by one of the organization’s Advisory Board members. At that time, she said there were few charitable organizations in Winchester.

For the past 20 years, she said she has helped organize the Army’s annual food drive. Last year, the Army collected 2,243 pounds of food, she said.

“Hunger never takes a vacation,” Griffin said. “These kids that receive free and reduced lunch [at school], vacation comes and what happens? There are no meals. And they go hungry.”

This year’s Food Drive will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. May 25 at the Walmart on Northwestern Pike (U.S. 50).

Griffin said she is not someone who “hops from board to board” and that she likes to stick with organizations for a long time.

In addition to serving the Salvation Army for so long, Griffin has also volunteered with the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival for 50 years and previously served as its president. She was also on Winchester City Council for 22 years, before leaving in 2008. She also volunteers for the Winchester Medical Center Auxiliary-sponsored Animal Assisted Therapy Program.

“I keep busy,” she said.

Also on Friday, the Salvation Army awarded the Rev. Dan Garrett a Certificate of an Honorary Member award.

Garrett, 77, is the vice president of the Salvation Army’s Advisory Board. He has volunteered with the Army for 16 years.

Garrett is a retired United Methodist Church minister. He served as pastor of Duncan Memorial United Methodist in Berryville from 1982 to 1996.

Every Thursday, he works in the Salvation Army kitchen to provide meals to people in need.

“It’s more fun serving as a volunteer in the kitchen than board meetings,” Garrett said. “I love being in the kitchen and interacting with the people that come there.” Durant praised Garrett as someone who is “an example of humility.”

Garrett and his wife, Susan, plan to leave their Berryville home by early September to move to southern California to be closer to family.

“That’s just sad news for everybody,” Durant said of Garrett’s departure. “We wish him the very best. You are an amazing reverend.”

Pathway of Hope offers Roanoke Valley families route to stability The Salvation Army program focuses on helping families to become self-sufficient

Pathway of Hope offers Roanoke Valley families route to stability

ROANOKE, Va. – A program at the Salvation Army works to help local families in need. It’s called the Pathway of Hope and it helps families break the cycle of poverty.

The program is for people who are working but aren’t making enough money to support themselves and their families. They must have at least one child and live in Roanoke City or Roanoke County.

Deborah Cobourn, the case manager for the program, says it started with a simple question – why did the Salvation Army keep seeing some of the same people coming in for help?

She says by offering a temporary fix over and over, the Salvation Army didn’t feel like it was really addressing underlying problems. Pathway of Hope’s goal is to address the issues and create targeted solutions. Those involved in the program are put on a path to self-sufficiency and stability.

Cobourn says by making these changes within the family, it’s not just the parents who benefit but the children as well.

“We’re trying to make generational changes here,” Cobourn says. “It’s the ripple effect, that what we do will echo into their lives and it is very powerful. They see everything their parents do and to see somebody come in and say, ‘This can be different.’ That is a huge inspiration to them. They’re always going to carry that with them.”

Pathway of Hope is able to team up with other community organizations to help find the best solution for each family’s need and offer intense one-on-one case management for about 15 families at a time.

Once enrolled, one of the first steps for participants is to figure out the underlying cause of poverty for their situation. It may be situational, by death, divorce or desertion, or it may be intergenerational with the issue of poverty going back two generation or more.

After that, they set their specific goals, determining what it’s going to take to get them from point A to point B.

Cheerilyn Chapman started the program last year and is currently taking part in a Jobs for Life course to help her find a full-time skilled working position. She says after some medical issues knocked her off the planned path, she’s working to get things back on track for her seven kids.

“They’re learning firsthand by seeing it,” says Chapman. “It’s really helpful for them to see me struggling, see me setting goals, see me doing this even at my ripe old age. They’re seeing it can happen. It makes a difference.”

She says one of her goals is to be able to give back and help other families who face similar struggles.

For more information on the Roanoke Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program, click here.