Salvation Army retreats some in Marysville

Lt. Ruari Ward, left, with Mayor Jon Nehring and Ward’s wife, Sarah, and their children, shown here at the Salvation Army bell ringing red kettle fund-raising drive before Christmas. (File Photo)

Lt. Ruari Ward, left, with Mayor Jon Nehring and Ward’s wife, Sarah, and their children, shown here at the Salvation Army bell ringing red kettle fund-raising drive before Christmas. (File Photo)

MARYSVILLE – The Salvation Army in Marysville is retreating some.

It will no longer have officers in Marysville who will lead worship services due to financial considerations.

However the current director, Lt. Ruari Ward, emphasizes that it will continue all of its social service offerings.

“We are staying in Marysville and committed to this community,” Ward said Thursday.

The Marysville office will be run by social services employee Jenny Roodzamt. She has worked for the Salvation Army for two years and was a volunteer for two years prior to that. “She lives in the community and is involved in the community in partnership with the city’s embedded social worker program and has had good success with that,” Ward said.

What is ending are the worship services, which are led by officers, who are ordained ministers. Ward said those services normally have between 25 and 35 people attending. “Well, of course, that’s sad news,” Ward said. “But we’ve been able to transition them to other good congregations in our community.

“It’s a blessing that Marysville has such strong churches. They’ll benefit from being part of those congregations,” he said.

Ward said nationwide nonprofits have seen a decrease in donations. The Salvation Army had to make the decision that social services were more important to provide in Marysville than worship services.

“It’s what the community needs,” he said, adding he and his family will be transferred to Bellingham at the end of June after being here less than a year.

“We go where we are needed,” he said. “You follow your marching orders.”

Ward said his family enjoyed Marysville and was especially happy with the successful fund-raiser last fall. However, he said they have seen an uptick of about 30 percent in the number of people using their social service programs. “More people are leaning on our services,” he said.

Under the new Salvation Army model, Ward said social services not only will continue but potentially grow.

“We’re looking for ways to address the needs,” he said. “We are supported by Marysville people, and we owe it to them to make good financial business decisions.”

Ward emphasized it was not an easy decision. “It was difficult,” he said. “But we want to be good stewards so we had to realign our priorities.”

——————

Following is a sample of just some of the social services provided by Salvation Army.

Poverty: Shelter; clothing; meal, bill pay, rental and energy assistance; job help.

Teaching: Homework help and counseling; sports clubs and extracurricular activities; dance, art and music programs.

Addiction: Combatting it, building work and social skills, regaining health and stability, restoring families.

Disasters: Emergency preparedness and response, long-term recovery, emotional care.

Hunger: Food pantries, meal programs.

Elderly: Various support services.

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