Couple prepares for new Salvation Army journey

Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

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Salvation Army of Suffolk Lt. Shawn and Capt. Angel Simmons are turning the page and beginning the next chapter of their journey. 

The Simmons’ will be stationed in Salisbury, Maryland to continue helping others in need as their replacements, Capt. Kelsey and Johnathan Meredith, arrive here June 19.

Before heading to Maryland, the Simmons’ held a fun-filled community festival Saturday, June 10 to celebrate and say goodbye to the Suffolk citizens they’ve met during their three years of service. 

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Capt. Simmons reflected on the “beautiful time” with those attending as they ate barbecue and hot dogs, took part in bike raffles, received toys and enjoyed face painting that she provided. 

“The atmosphere was everyone coming through just saying ‘thank you,’ and that wasn’t what we were doing it for, we just wanted to say farewell you know? But we got to have a lot of people say ‘my child is going to miss you,’” Capt. Simmons said.

She wanted to reassure everyone that their departure doesn’t mean programs won’t continue, adding that it will be a “smooth transition.” 

Capt. Simmons further explained that after every three to five years, Salvation Army officers transition to a new community based on their needs.

“It’s a prayerfully considered decision that’s made by our territorial headquarters in terms of movement, and we are similar to the Methodist Church, wherever the Lord leads us is we will go,” she said.

She reflected on their time in Suffolk, which began in June 2020. She noted the “different life” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and programs being coordinated differently, but noted the “opportunity to reset.” This followed into new achievements such as the start of their day camp program in 2021, youth program expansions into athletics and music, having more community events such as a health fair, and their partnership with Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk (CAPS) to provide spacing for the homeless.

“Being here, we just fell in love with Suffolk. We feel like this is a part of us, even though we’re moving on that this is family,” Simmons said. “We’ve already talked with the Merediths about it and they’re super excited to continue to expand the community center to have five days a week of youth programs after school with the goal of becoming a Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.”

On standout memories, Capt. Simmons looked back on her first Christmas year working with the police department and community churches as well as programs such as the Cheer Fund and Toys for Tots.

“I’ve been doing this as a Salvation Army officer for 13 years now and Suffolk Christmas was amazing in terms of the outpouring from the community,” Simmons said. “It’s just an amazing thing, I think the first year it was maybe 1,700 kids in 2020, and now to be up to 2,800 and we didn’t have to turn away one child. And that’s one of the reasons why I say Suffolk will always have a piece of our heart because people truly care.”

Likewise, Simmons noted how to continue to donate towards the Cheer Fund.

“Everyone registers online, starting in the middle of August through Oct. 15, you can register for Christmas assistance and it’s an online process. Same website which is,” she explained.

Capt. Simmons said the Cheer Fund is for children ages 12 and under and the Salvation Army assists seniors 60 and over. She stressed that while the Salvation Army might be a big organization to serve others, every resource used to support the community comes directly from the local community.

“If anyway that you have been touched by the things that have happened here in the Salvation Army, we ask you to pay that forward by supporting, even with food, clothing or resources that you may have to support,” Simmons said. “This time of the year is the time that a lot of donations don’t pour in, so while we’re gearing up for Summer day camp, we’re gearing up to have senior programs during the day in the community center, all those things we we could use the community’s support and [their] support in sharing that message that the Salvation Army maybe a big organization, but it is based on the needs of that community.”

For more information on the Salvation Army of Suffolk, go to


Editor’s note: Updated seventh passage at 12:17 p.m., Wednesday, June 14 to reflect correct spelling.