Covid-19Magazine Exclusive

The ‘army’ behind the Army

When Majors Moises and Jacqueline Rivera arrived at the Salvation Army’s Vineland , N.J., Corps last year, they immediately saw that the need in that community was larger than they had expected. The corps staff consisted of one part–time employee, Mrs. Aubrie Bonestell. She handled Pathway of Hope and other social services programs.

Major Moises remembers, “With the increase in the food service program, we needed help organizing; it was impossible for the three of us to serve the community like we wanted to.”

However, within the year, the corps was blessed with an advisory board whose members took on important duties. A larger and growing staff included  one of their earliest volunteers who Major Moises says has gone above and beyond the call to serve the community.

Paula Scott­–Bey, a resident of Vineland, was living proof that God watched over the corps when it needed help. “PJ” wanted to give her time to the corps in any way she could.

“For PJ, it wasn’t a question of ‘if she could help?,’ but rather, ‘How soon could she start?,’” says Moises.


On a personal note

PJ’s passion to serve the community was inspired by the Army’s work in her own family.
“There have been times when we were without food, money for utilities, and even presents under our Christmas tree” she says. “During our most difficult days, The Salvation Army made it possible for us to overcome those challenges.”

Today, PJ, her immediate family, and the close friends of her children come to the corps to volunteer. It’s never a question of what they can do, but rather when can they start doing it.

PJ says that, because she sees the Army help families like hers, she feels now is the time to give back in a similar fashion. “Families like mine that need heat or food are able to get help and more, thanks to The Salvation Army.”


Non–stop service

“The volunteers of the Vineland Corps serve like a high-powered train,” says Dawn Garlic, volunteer services manager at the Salvation Army’s Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden, N.J. “They’re always lifting, sorting, stocking, cleaning, boxing, and distributing items.” As a result of COVID-19, Garlic has been working days in Vineland, and is impressed by the service being done by the volunteers.

“They have their own system,” says Garlic. “The first day I arrived, I saw how they functioned. They were as focused and organized as you would expect employees, not just volunteers, to be. When I arrive in the morning, I can see these volunteers setting up tables and tents and getting ready to serve the community. I can see how grateful people are as they receive food for their families.”

Garlic says that neither COVID–19 nor the powerful rainstorms that have hit New Jersey this summer slowed down the Vineland Corps volunteers.

“You might say that the Salvation Army’s volunteers in Vineland are the ‘army’ behind the Army,” says Garlic.

by Hugo Bravo