Majors Debbra and Tom Grace showed up in tiny Bucyrus, Ohio, in July 2021 to find the corps had only one part-time employee and a handful of volunteers. The employee quit within a month.
“It was just us,” Debbra said. “I’ve worked with women a lot, and if you want to get something done, you need them.”
The corps in this rural community had no women’s auxiliary, so Debbra got started organizing one.
“I’ve chartered a few women’s auxiliaries in other appointments and my husband and I thought this might be a good place,” she said. “We had very few volunteers, but there is need here.”
Debbra said she put the word out about volunteer service opportunities and “women just started coming along.”
The women have now been involved in two Christmas distributions, including packing food boxes and toy bags. They also stood kettles and were involved in the church’s back-to-school program, Easter food and basket distribution, and packing Thanksgiving food boxes.
Debbra said eight or nine of the women also recently took part in a clothing and household item distribution in Bucyrus.
“Some of them work weekly in our food pantry,” she said. “They just do about anything we need help with. If I put out an email and ask for help, I get responses.”
The auxiliary started meeting in November 2022, but with all the protocol to meet, the group wasn’t chartered until April 10 of this year with 43 inaugural members. The division needed to approve the charter and then it had to go to territorial headquarters for the approval of of Commissioner William Bamford III, territorial commander.
Pam Holtshouse is the initial president of the auxiliary and is joined by Mary Jane Frye, vice president; Amy Roe, secretary; Linda Efaw, treasurer; and Joanne Weisenauer, chaplain.
The installation service included Majors Timothy and Willie Mae Lyle, the divisional commanders in the Southwest Ohio and Northeast Kentucky Division. Bucyrus Mayor Jeff Reser and county commissioners were also on hand to cheer the women on as a new auxiliary.
“You get a sense of a community and I sensed that some of these women were looking for a place to engage,” Debbra said. “It’s a small town, so The Salvation Army is probably the only full-time service organization in the community.
“This is also a community that has a lot of faith, and these women have a lot of appreciation for who The Salvation Army is, not just because we provide service, but because of why we provide service—our faith in the Lord. They really embrace that.”