Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Salvation Army volunteers

Meet the 2019 Volunteers of the Year

Added on Friday, April 26, 2019

Salvation Army volunteers are remarkable people because they give without expecting anything in return. They cook and serve hot meals, ring bells, push paperwork, mentor at-risk kids and more, all for one simple reason: It’s the right thing to do.

Of all our volunteers, several stand out for their uncommon grit, grace and dedication. They are our 2019 Volunteers of the Year: John Smith, Judy Secord, Abby Adegeye, the Chase family, and volunteer group Mobile Menders.

This year’s winners are among the 28,500 kindhearted volunteers who help The Salvation Army Northern Division provide life-changing services for 340,000 people in Minnesota and North Dakota.   

“Congratulations to this year’s winners,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson, leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division. “Their dedication captures the spirit of The Salvation Army and our commitment to serving people in need.”

Lifetime: Judy Secord

The Salvation Army Northern Division is proud to announce Judy Secord as our 2019 Lifetime Volunteer of the Year.

Judy SecordSecord is a volunteer at The Salvation Army in Brooklyn Park, Minn. She’s been involved with the Twin Cities Salvation Army for more than 75 years.

During 50 of those years she focused on youth. For decades she led character-building programs for girls – called Sunbeams and Girl Guards – at Salvation Army locations in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and her present location in Brooklyn Park. The avid seamstress took such pride in her girls that she would personally fit them for their uniforms and sew their badges by hand.    

“Judy always went above and beyond for her youth,” said Auxiliary Captain Josh Polanco, leader of the Brooklyn Park Salvation Army. “The children she taught grew into awesome soldiers and officers who love the Lord, which truly furthers the mission of The Salvation Army.”

Although Secord is now retired from youth work, she is still an active volunteer. Every Sunday, she picks up men from the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis and brings them to attend church at the Brooklyn Park Salvation Army; the 69-year-old still has a CDL license and transports the men in a Salvation Army bus. In addition, she continues to make alterations to the uniforms of youth and other church members.

“Judy works passionately because she works for the Lord,” Polanco said.

Individual: John Smith

The Salvation Army Northern Division is proud to announce John Smith as our 2019 Individual Volunteer of the Year.

Portrait of John SmithSmith is a volunteer at The Salvation Army in Brainerd, Minn. Week in and week out, he performs a multitude of volunteer activities such as cooking meals, grounds cleanup, helping lead youth and adult Bible programs, and more.

Smith always goes the extra mile. In late January, when temperatures dropped to 43 below, he spent three nights and two days staffing the Brainerd Salvation Army’s warming center. He provided hot drinks and meals, coordinated sleeping arrangements, and encouraged people who needed a listening ear.

“John Smith has made a profound impact on the Brainerd Salvation Army,” said Lt. Scott Ruse, leader of the Brainerd Salvation Army. “Whether he is cooking meals for our children’s programs, or shoveling snow, or mowing the grass, he is willing to do it all.”

Even more impressive: Smith must walk to the Brainerd Salvation Army because he does not have transportation.

“John is so dedicated to his volunteer work,” Ruse said. “He serves wholeheartedly.”

Family: David and Sara Chase

The Salvation Army Northern Division is proud to announce David and Sara Chase as our 2019 Family Volunteers of the Year.

Portrait of Chase familyThe Chases volunteer at The Salvation Army in Brooklyn Park, Minn., where they do it all: Sunday school, disaster relief, music and youth programs, disaster relief, church greeters, and much more. Together, they have a combined 47 years of service.

The Chases’ commitment to serving through The Salvation Army touches every aspect of their lives.

“From picking up trash in the neighborhood and shoveling for neighbors who would struggle with that task, they both give of their time … and share what The Salvation Army is all about,” said Auxiliary Captain Josh Polanco, leader of the Brooklyn Park Salvation Army.

Both Sara and David are always on the lookout for more and different ways to serve. Sara has embraced a new opportunity to help low-income moms through The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope mentoring program, while David’s love of teaching and performing brass instruments has trickled down to the couple’s 11-year-old son, who is now teaching others to play trumpet.

“David and Sara’s passion for sharing the Gospel and serving others is greatly appreciated,” Polanco said.

Youth: Abby Adegeye

The Salvation Army Northern Division is proud to announce Abby Adegeye as our 2019 Youth Volunteer of the Year.

Portrait of Abby Adegeye, 20, volunteers at The Salvation Army in Brooklyn Park, Minn. For four years she has played an integral role in a variety of Brooklyn Park Salvation Army youth programs, such as Sunday school, weekly character-building classes, and summer camp.

“Abby sets an example not only for the younger individuals who come through our doors, but for those older than her as well,” said Auxiliary Captain Josh Polanco, leader of the Brooklyn Park Salvation Army. “Her commitment is evident in everything she does.”

Adegeye is vested in the kids she serves because she knows how important Salvation Army youth programs are. She grew up attending the same programs, which offer sports, music, Bible study, and other fun activities in a safe and supportive environment.

“Apart from school, Abby is always here serving,” Polanco said. “She has given so much of her time to programs that gives back to the community she lives in. She furthers the mission of The Salvation Army by putting others first.”   

Organization: Mobile Menders

The Salvation Army Northern Division is proud to announce Mobile Menders as our 2019 Organization Volunteer of the Year.

Portrait of Michelle OoleyMobile Menders is a St. Paul-based volunteer group that offers free mending services for people in need. Once every three months, its volunteers repair clothing for residents of The Salvation Army HOPE Harbor housing facility in Minneapolis. The volunteers replace buttons, fix zippers, hem pants and shirts, and more. In doing so, they extend the life of the residents’ clothing and provide each person with added dignity.

Their support does not end there. Last Christmas, Mobile Menders volunteers sewed custom outfits for 48 dolls donated to The Salvation Army. The dolls and their outfits (pictured) were distributed at Salvation Army toy shops for children, and each outfit included a handwritten note from the Mobile Menders volunteer who made it.

“We have volunteers from several different countries,” said Mobile Menders founder Michelle Ooley (pictured above). “One lady sewed Russian doll clothes to honor her culture.”

The Salvation Army is thankful for Mobile Menders volunteers. Their efforts to provide clean, repaired clothing allows HOPE Harbor residents to engage with the public with less judgement based on their appearance.

The Salvation Army Northern Division pledges to do the most good with your gifts of time and money, with 81 cents of every dollar going directly to services. Join us by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community. Stay current on how The Salvation Army is changing lives in Minnesota and North Dakota by signing up for our e-Newsletters.