Exciting things are happening in Wadsworth, Ohio, where a new Women’s Auxiliary is the latest manifestation of a transformative ministry. Captains Tom and Debbra Grace, corps officers, rejoice because 100 women or more are actively engaged in ministry in their community of 20,000 people.
A strategic study designed to assess the needs of the community and the Army’s role in serving those needs indicated that a women’s auxiliary could make a huge difference to the success of the ministry through its dual mission of fund–raising and voluntary service.
Captain Debbra Grace, having previously established a successful auxiliary in Wooster, Ohio, set to work capitalizing on strong relationships in the Wadsworth community to seek out key women who could be potential members.
Inviting a core group to her home for a meeting in December 2005, Grace shared the Army’s story and assessed interest in forming an auxiliary. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and the group began meeting monthly, targeting friends and key community women to join them.
By April 2006, the group chose officers and established a key missional focus for the auxiliary, “Empowerment through Education.” All projects funded and resourced by this auxiliary would involve education and its transformative impact. This fit perfectly with the corps’ after–school program as well as its GED project and family and adult services.
The organizational meeting was held in September 2006, with 98 women signing on as charter members. Now its membership exceeds 100 women active in a variety of projects, including providing volunteers and cookies for the community CROP Walk (a Fall activity for raising funds); an “Evening of Giving” at the Summit Mall; and Salvation Army Christmas–related activities, such as a Community Christmas Parade, food sorting and packing, bell–ringing, and coat and toy distribution, among many others.
Membership age ranges from 15 to 92, with 70 percent of the members considered “active.” The rolls have a “sustaining” category for those unable to participate fully but who are supportive financially. The auxiliary also boasts a “student” category, which demonstrates an eye to the future and an intergenerational approach to service.
At the March 2007 meeting, Lt. Colonels William and Judy LaMarr, divisional leaders, provided inspirational remarks while Major Eva R. Geddes presented the charter officially inaugurating the auxiliary.
Geddes also presented Cathy Hall with a plaque honoring her as the auxiliary’s first president. (See caption for other officers.)
The Wadsworth chapter brings to 71 the number of women’s auxiliaries in the territory. Each provides invaluable service to its Salvation Army unit in hours of volunteer service as well as fund–raising for practical, transformative projects.
As the first new auxiliary chartered in the Eastern Territory in more than a dozen years (the previous newest Auxiliary was the Wooster, Ohio, Auxiliary, also started by Captain Debbra Grace), the Wadsworth group will be one of the auxiliaries featured in the new Women’s Auxiliary video to be released in September 2007.
—Major Geddes is the territorial secretary for
Community Care Ministries & Women’s Auxiliaries.