TAKE 5: Salvation Army debuts 'Jobs for Life,' eyes other offerings

May. 17, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

This week, we Take 5 with Chris Kelley, the service center director for The Salvation Army of Lee County. A Virginia native, Kelley came to North Carolina to study sports management and play basketball at Elon University. He graduated in 1994 and not long after began work as the program director for the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Burlington, a partnership between the Army and the Boys & Girls Clubs of N.C. He transferred to Wake County in 1998 to become athletic director at the Army's large community center in Raleigh — which serves children of Wake County ages 5-12 — and became the center's director in 2001. After 10 years in that role, Kelley took a position overseeing marketing and inventory collections for the Army's large thrift store in Raleigh, leaving that position to come to Sanford. He and his wife, Ann, have two children.

1. You've been in your new position for a couple of months now. Can you give us an assessment of the local Army's switch from a corps to a service center, and your impressions of the work ahead of you?

The biggest change is that we are no longer offering worship services. However, my goal is to continue the good work that has been done in the past. Moving to a service center should allow us to expand our programs and services to the community. One thing I'm seeing every day is that many people are struggling to make ends meet, discouraged and have many needs. Our desire is to meet people's needs and then share why we do what we do with people. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).

2. One new program you've helped quickly launch is “Jobs for Life,” in conjunction with First Baptist Church's “Job Seekers.” What can you tell us about Jobs for Life and how it complements Job Seekers? 

I first would like to say thanks to Cindy Hall (minister of outreach/activities) at First Baptist Church for being open to Jobs for Life. Job Seekers is an excellent program and is helping many people. Jobs for Life is a little different because we actually work through a curriculum (16 classes). During this time, students share their struggles with mentors and each other, have assignments and homework. It's a great program for those who feel stuck and need some extra help locating a job.

3. What other programs are you eying that might be new for the Army on a local level?

We are hoping to offer a faith and finance course, computer training, basic life skill classes, Bible studies and programs for youth and seniors. Volunteers will be critical to getting many of these programs off the ground. If there is anyone who is interested in getting involved, please call me at The Salvation Army.

4. A recent story in “War Cry,” the magazine of the Salvation Army, discussed poverty and how sometimes providing assistance to those who suffer from poverty isn't always the best way to address it. The story says, “Poverty is rooted in the fundamental broken nature of human beings.” When you addressed the Sanford City Council a couple of weeks ago, you mentioned the cycle of poverty in which some people in Sanford and Lee County are caught. What do you think is the answer, and what role might the Army play in that?

Yes, there are some who are in a cycle of poverty and can't get out of it. Many times, we just give out food, clothing, etc. and don't talk to the person to find out why they are coming to us. We want to go beyond offering just these material things and equip our clients with the knowledge and skills to break out of the cycle of poverty. We want become more of a development and equipping organization that ministers to the mind, body and soul.

5. The Army's local Family Store has been growing, and its contributions to the Army's coffers is helping you assist more people. What's important for people to know about the Family Store?

Yes, Jean Temple (store manager) and staff are doing an outstanding job. Many of us have clothing, furniture, electronics, appliances and household goods that we don't use or don't need anymore. Our family store is a great place to donate these items. The store is located at 305 S. Steele St. in Sanford. Hours are Monday-Friday (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m.-4 p.m). If you live in Lee County and have large items or loads, we will come pick up your items for free. You can call (919) 776-2769 or request a pickup online at www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/sanford . A tax receipt will be provided for all donations. Revenue from store sales stays here to help the people of Lee County. The store is always in need of volunteers.  Please let us know if you can help.