The Salvation Army on Grand Island has a pair of new lieutenants.
Wayne Benedict and Katy Benedict now lead the nonprofit agency’s efforts to help the homeless and needy.
The Benedicts came to Grand Island from Elkhart, Indiana.
They have been in the Salvation Army for 10 years, as members, called “soldiers”, then as trainees. This is their third year as lieutenants, explained Lt. Katy Benedict.
“We were transferred here to Grand Island because our background matched the needs here,” Lt. Wayne Benedict said. “It worked very well.”
They have been on Grand Island since June 29 and immediately started working.
Ahead of their official start day, during the July 4 holiday, they announced the site would serve as an ’emergency cooling center’ to help people escape the heat, which reached the 90s throughout the summer.
People also read…
From the start, the lieutenants did “a lot of cleanup,” Wayne said.
Not just of the building and the property, but of the necessary “adjustments”.
“We had an issue with the homeless population and drug use on our premises,” Katy said. “Since we came here, he’s been working, cleaning up this area and making sure people and families come to feel safe in our building.”
This was to put an end to vagrancy and people sleeping on the property.
“Nobody hangs around all night, all day,” Wayne said. “I’m just trying to clean up the area, giving a better presentation.”
Vacation Bible School resumed and was held throughout the weekend of September 9.
“The kids are really excited,” Katy said. “It’s something they haven’t had in a while.”
The lieutenants hope to add more programs to better help the community, with the ideas already taking shape.
On Thursdays, The Salvation Army will begin offering a women’s scholarship program at 7 p.m.
A music school for children is also under consideration, where children can learn piano, guitar and drums.
Two community events are planned.
The first is on September 18, a celebration of Hispanic heritage: “Servicio de la Celebracion de la Herencia Hispana”.
After a morning worship, everyone will gather in the dining room to share cultural dishes.
“It will be potluck style, bring your favorite dish that your family has cooked, that you cook in your country, so that we can all learn and enrich our culture by learning about each other’s indigenous cultures and foods,” said Katy.
On October 26, a community meal in the evening: “Welcome to the Table”.
“The idea is just to come together as one, as a family, to play worship music and hear a devotional together, and eat a home-cooked meal,” Katy said. “Everyone can sit down, have conversations, build relationships and feel welcome and accepted, and maybe they will come to know Christ.”
The key to their efforts is “relationships,” Wayne said.
“We want to build and rebuild relationships that have to be worked on,” he said. “We just want to go out into the community, meet people, let them know about the Salvation Army, what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do to move forward.
Both Wayne and Katy Benedict have deeply personal inspirations for serving others.
Wayne graduated from the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center.
“The Salvation Army saved my life. When everyone turned their back on me, the Salvation Army was there for me and it is because of them, with God, that I am where I am today,” he said. “I can show people that there is a way out, that there is a way to be a contributing member of society, to get married and have a family, and to go on to do bigger and better things. with God’s help.”
Katy shared that she came from a broken family and, thanks to the Salvation Army, “felt the love” and “met Christ”.
“When I met Christ, through the Salvation Army, my life changed,” she said. “The Salvation Army people, the officers, loved me, broke me, how I was, and continued to love me, and eventually it turned into a passion for helping people and a passion to give, and help people who might be lost, like I was.”
Wayne added: “We can help others and do for them what has been so freely given to us.”
The need on Grand Island is great, Wayne said.
“Food prices are exploding right now,” he said. “We saw an influx of people entering the feeding programme, people entering through the pantry. Lots of newcomers you’ve never seen here are coming. The need is there.
The community can help in many ways.
Volunteers are always needed.
“We feed about 200 people a day, for lunch and dinner,” Katy said. “Not to mention the pantry. For that alone, we always need volunteers to help prepare, serve and clean up. We also need people to store the items, as well as to assemble the boxes. »
Financial donations are also welcome.
These can be done by visiting centralusa.salvationarmy.org/grandislandthen clicking on “Donate to this community”.