Salvation Army celebrates one year with new director

Published 8:04 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Last week, the Salvation Army LaGrange celebrated a full year as a director managed, family store and service center under Service Center Director Lisa Martin.

Martin has made several major changes to the location during her first year, including changes to the structure of the local organization, establishing community buy-in from throughout the county and starting new training programs. One of the biggest accomplishments of the year was visible even from the celebration on Friday, as representatives from across the county spoke passionately about the Salvation Army’s work in Troup County.

“[Our biggest accomplishment this year is] probably the networking with other organizations,” Martin said. “My heart is that we all work together, and that has been my main goal, is to reach out to other organizations and see how can we all partner together and work together to help the residents of Troup County.”

Much of the last year has been spent focusing on making the Salvation Army store, but Martin said the next task she plans to tackle is finding the best way to connect locals with jobs.

“The first year was focusing on the actual family store,” Martin said. “This next year is the service center. … A key lacking element is training in customer service, and we want to look at and doing more with job networking and helping people network with job providers. We are also offering where they can come into the service center and do online job applications and resumes.”

Mayors, city council members, donors, advisory board members and volunteers gathered Friday to celebrate the work done in the community in the last year and the work planned for the upcoming year.

“We are very fortunate to have the Salvation Army in LaGrange, and I’m excited about their conversion to the ‘service center’ model,” LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said. “Under the leadership of Lisa and Teara [Harris] and the rest of the staff, they are doing a lot of good in LaGrange and throughout Troup County.”

Martin’s plans to provide customer service training garnered praise at recent LaGrange City Council meetings, and the city approved funding for property services and utilities for Salvation Army for this budget year. This is the first time that LaGrange has provided funding for the Salvation Army in LaGrange in recent memory, and representatives from the other cities in attendance thanked the LaGrange City Council for stepping forward to support an organization that supports the community.

“We just know that we’ve got someone that we can count on in times of need to help our most needy people,” West Point Mayor Steve Tramell said. “It is just an organization that we can count on. It is important to us that we have someone we can count on, and with her in charge, I know it is going to get done.”

Other local organizations often rely on the Salvation Army in order to make major service projects possible.

“Our Pilot Club uses a lot of the toys — like Toys for Tots — and different stuff that comes from the Salvation Army, so it is beneficial,” said George Bailey, a member of the Hogansville City Council and the Salvation Army LaGrange advisory board. 

Bailey said that he feels like there are great things to come from the Salvation Army of LaGrange, but the local organization needs continuous community support. 

“As we prepare for the holidays — it will be here before we know it — and thinking back to last year, how people were so giving in the community to make Christmas for families that sometimes wouldn’t have Christmas [is awesome],” said Norma Tucker, former LaGrange City Council member and a member of the Salvation Army LaGrange advisory board. “Then on a day to day basis, the people who benefit from the food that is available, that is a big thing in my mind because we don’t realize just how many people don’t have [and] are in need.”

However, the organization helps people far beyond its well-known efforts around Christmas.

“Salvation Army reaches so many people — not just in LaGrange, but all of Troup County,” said Sandra Thornton, advisory board chairman and West Point City Council member. “A lot of people don’t know that they offer services for utilities, food, clothing. They are opening up the doors to many other services that they are going to provide, and I am just happy to be a part of doing the most good.”

Ultimately, the event was about thanking the Salvation Army of LaGrange and its volunteers for their hard work.

“I think it is always great to have the opportunity to celebrate the service and the work of an organization like what the Salvation Army, particularly the work that they do here in our community,” Georgia House Minority Leader Bob Trammell said. “… The needs in our community are vast, and I just appreciate all the volunteers and members who make the organization possible. It is nice to have a chance to say thank you.”

The Salvation Army in LaGrange served 913 people during the 2018 calendar year and averages 20 calls per day, according to information shared during recent LaGrange City Council meetings.