The Salvation Army ’round the clock
Published 1:05 pm Thursday, November 19, 2015
It’s a Thursday morning at the Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army, and everything is business as usual.
A social worker is taking applications for heating help as the weather starts to turn cold. Capt. Shauntrice Anthony is on the phone with a local retailer, getting final approval for bell-ringers to collect change in red kettles in front of the store during the Christmas season. Volunteers are plating spaghetti and slicing cake for about six dozen people who will soon be arriving for twice-weekly lunch.
And Lt. Johnny Anthony, Shauntrice’s husband, is looking for his tie, which he misplaced after he took it off yesterday to clean the red kettles.
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“Our life is never boring,” Shauntrice says.
To be a Salvation Army Corps officer, one seemingly must be all things to all people. A preacher AND a pastor AND a youth leader AND a Sunday school teacher. An administrator. A musician. A handyman. A volunteer coordinator. An accountant. A gym teacher. A social worker. A consensus-builder.
But most importantly, a Salvation Army Corps officer must be a person with a calling from God to do the work.
“I don’t think we realize how much we do,” Shauntrice says after listing their official roles, not to mention the unofficial ones. “But it’s not really a job. It’s our ministry.”
The Anthonys are relatively new to Suffolk, having arrived this summer, but neither of them is new to the Salvation Army organization.
Both were involved as children in the youth programs at their local corps. She became an officer in 2009, and he did in 2012. They met while working at the organization’s Camp Happyland for youth and wed in May, shortly before being assigned to Suffolk.
Few newlywed couples would enjoy working as much as the Anthonys do, but at least they’re working together. They do set aside lunchtime Thursdays as a time to have a quiet meal together, but the upcoming holiday season makes even that a hard appointment to keep.
There’s always something happening at the Salvation Army building at 400 Bank St. Intake for social help — assistance with energy bills and so forth — takes place every day. Those in need of food can get it every day, as well as the hot meal on Thursday and Saturday at noon. At Christmas, those in need can sign up for Angel Tree and Toys for Tots, as well as Christmas baskets for senior citizens.
Open gym is held Monday through Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Robert W. Harrell Jr. Physical Health and Education Center. A fitness program run by a private instructor takes place there in the mornings. A computer room is located off the basketball court. Events and Team Suffolk practices can take place any day. Adults can use the workout equipment when the building is open. In emergencies, the Harrell center doubles as a post-event shelter. A community garden grows behind the building.
Groups for young women and young men meet regularly for Bible studies and service projects. On Thursdays, a music program for youth starts at 4 and goes all evening. On Sundays, breakfast begins at 9, with Sunday school at 9:45 and service at 11.
“It’s a long day,” Johnny says. It’s not exactly clear to which day he’s referring, but it could be any or all of them.
“We’re just meeting human needs through different programs and adding in Jesus Christ,” he said. “That’s our goal every single day.”
In between the official programs, the Anthonys make regular visits to a nursing home. He participates in a jail ministry. Homeless people take showers at the facility. The Anthonys manage one full-time and four part-time employees, plus about 100 to 150 volunteers.
“We don’t clock in at 9 and get to leave at 5,” Shauntrice said. “That’s not how it works for us.”
As the dining area begins to fill up, its clear that these hungry souls, at least, are glad the Anthonys are on the clock.