Husband and wife duo, Capt. Julio and Maj. Luci Da Silva, joined the Salvation Army in Williamsburg in late June as the new commanding officers.
The Da Silvas are originally from Brazil and have both served the Salvation Army for more than two decades in the United States and internationally, including in Africa, England and Brazil.
Capt. Da Silva said that they are products of the Salvation Army and left their professional careers in Brazil to serve.
“We both grew up with the Salvation Army and we are also both a product of the mission of the Salvation Army. We both come from low-income families, poor family, and we had our lives turned around because of the ministry of the Salvation Army,” said Capt. Da Silva.
Previously, Capt. Da Silva had worked as a human relations manager and Maj. Da Silva was an early education teacher.
“The calling of the Salvation Army … is to be a friend of the friendless, to lead a life of kindness and service that is self-sacrificial and one that I consider full of faith,” said Capt. Da Silva.
The Salvation Army in Williamsburg serves Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Nationally, the Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans by providing food, shelter, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for drug and alcohol abuse and more.
The Da Silvas hope within their role that they can expand the current services of the Salvation Army of Williamsburg and to see it grow within the community. Some of the services they are hoping to offer include before- and after-school programs for children, including tutoring, music lessons and more. They also want to offer an adult literacy program and more character-building programs to the community.
One of the first steps to offering these services, according to Capt. Da Silva, is renovating their property off Ironbound Road to include classrooms.
Capt. Da Silva says that they have four priorities in their role: the first and foremost is the people, the second is programming, the third is property and lastly is public relations to expand their network and outreach.
“We are here because of people, we are here for people,” said Capt. Da Silva.
The Da Silvas have stayed in touch with many of the people they have served over the years and consider many as a son or daughter to them.
Capt. Da Silva said that one memory that solidified why he was serving included a man from Louisville, Kentucky, who was a drug and alcohol addict when they first met. Through services with the Salvation Army, the man has now been sober for more than 15 years and now works with the ministry himself. They still keep in touch with him.
“Every food box, every backpack that we will give this summer, every night of lodging, every life skills class taught … is a reminder to those that we serve that there is a reason to hope and a reason to love,” said Capt. Da Silva.
Currently, the Salvation Army of Williamsburg is collecting supplies for a back-to-school party they will be hosting Aug. 26 where they hope to serve as many as 500 children in the community. Distribution will take place over a two-day period and households will be scheduling a time with staff to come pick up backpacks and other items. Masks, soap and hand sanitizer will be given out to each child in the distribution as well. A volunteer will be monitoring the number of people in the building.
Capt. Da Silva said they have seen an increased need since March and many families face a hard decision between paying for rent and other expenses and providing school supplies.
“We want to make sure that the kids will have a successful school year. We don’t know what it will look like, but we want to be there for them this summer,” said Capt. Da Silva.
The Salvation Army in Williamsburg is in need of shoes and clothing, especially for teenagers. They are in need of clothing for children 12 and older and adult clothing sizes for older teenagers and any youth and adult size shoes up to size 14-15.
The Salvation Army is abiding by CDC guidelines and adhering to social distancing. They are also requiring their staff and visitors to do a temperature check before entering their building, in addition to providing masks to those without one.
So far, the Da Silvas have said that the community in Williamsburg stands out because of people’s generosity. Coming from larger cities, such as Atlanta, Capt. Da Silva said sometimes people can lose joy to the hustle and bustle.
Abigail Adcox, 757-222-5320, firstname.lastname@example.org