When Ada Jarrett was a child, she was introduced to The Salvation Army by a friend whose family attended the Army’s church in Pottstown, Pa. They were involved in many aspects of the ministry, and Ada became involved too.
“Over the years, some members of my family stopped coming, but I stayed. The Salvation Army became my church,” says Jarrett, now 84.
Jarrett eventually married and left Pottstown for Rhode Island, but when she returned with her husband some years later, she became heavily involved in the corps once again. She retired in 1999. “I worked in the Army store, became part of Women’s Auxiliary, ladies’ Home League, and I got back to feeding the community.”
Jarrett’s granddaughter, Amy, also became a Salvation Army volunteer. Jarrett lives with Amy and they are very close. “I went to visit Amy when she was three months old, and I never left,” she says.
Jarrett had been bringing Amy to the Pottstown church since she was a baby. When Amy was five, she was the only child allowed to be inside the church kitchen to see volunteering behind the scenes. As she got older, volunteering became a permanent part of Amy’s activities, just as it had with her grandmother. They sound more like sisters when they talk about their work in the Army and lovingly joke about each other’s ages.
“As a teenager, I always left Wednesdays free to volunteer at the corps,” says Amy. “This started when I worked at McDonald’s in high school, continued after I came back from college, and while I worked in a bank.” Though Amy started attending a different church in college, she maintained her connection with the Army in Pottstown. Members from Amy’s church come to the corps on the 3rd week of the month to help prepare meals. Jarrett and the Ladies’ Home League come in on the 1st and 2nd week.
During the holiday season, Amy works directly with Major Jeny Shurtleff, the pastor at Pottstown. Amy rides with Major Shurtleff to pick up food, toys, and count the money collected from the kettle.
“At the corps, they call my grandmother ‘The General,’ because she’s been doing this so long, and she knows the ins and outs of volunteering here,” says Amy. “But during Christmas, I’m ‘The General.’ Grandma can have the rest of the year,” says Amy, laughing.
Amy took on more volunteer duties during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping prepare take-out meals for the community. Jarrett, who had to stay home, admits that it wasn’t easy seeing her granddaughter go to the corps without her. Still, it was important that they take the pandemic seriously; two of Jarrett’s children tested positive for COVID-19, and one died due to complications from pneumonia.
“That was a difficult time for all of us, but we had a lot of support from our family, as well as from the people at the Pottstown Corps,” says Jarrett.
Eventually, Jarrett was allowed to volunteer inside the building once a week and masked up. “The Lord has been very good to me,” she says. “I’m so thankful to still be here and to give my time.”
“At Pottstown, everyone knows me and my grandmother. Coming here to serve always feels like coming home. Just like grandma, I’ll be doing this as long as I can,” says Amy.