Birdsong Trust funds Salvation Army land

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, April 15, 2010

Continuing a tradition that started in 1944, the Birdsong Trust Fund trustees on Thursday committed to helping the Suffolk Salvation Army purchase land for its new building.

The Birdsong Trust Fund, established by seven siblings of the Birdsong family, purchased the land for the Salvation Army’s original building in 1944. The current trustees, however, were unaware of that donation until somebody recently found a plaque that read “This property was made available for the Salvation Army thru the generosity of the Birdsong Trust Fund 1944.”

“When we saw that, we were blown away,” said Billy Chorey Sr., one of the current trustees. “We thought how great it would be to continue the tradition of providing land for one of the most worthy causes in Suffolk.”

Therefore, the current trustees committed $70,000 for the purchase of the adjacent land at the corner of Holladay and Bank streets for eventual use as the site of a community center. The Salvation Army announced its plans for the new center last year.

“What is really unique about this is the Birdsong Trust Fund will have given all the land to the Salvation Army in Suffolk,” trust fund chairman John Harrell said. “I think it’s important because … the Salvation Army is a rock-solid organization in our community.”

The planned community center, to be located next to the current building at 400 Bank St., will provide more than 22,500 square feet of space for youth and senior programs, such as organized physical health programs, after-school tutoring, day camps, crafts and classes.

Harrell said the Salvation Army already has promised to reinstall the original plaque, though it is somewhat weathered.

“We want to have this bronze plaque remounted,” Harrell said.

Chorey said the commitment is significant to continue the relationship between the two organizations.

“We felt like it was only proper to let the current generation of the Birdsong Trust Fund provide the other land — the contiguous land — to kind of do as our forefathers did years ago,” Chorey said.