Advisory Board member is committed to helping The Salvation Army help others

Advisory Board member is committed to helping The Salvation Army help others

Listen to this article

Portland radio personality Crystal Thornton actively serves on the Portland Metro Advisory Board.

For Crystal Thornton, her role on The Salvation Army Portland Metro (Oregon) Advisory Board, is all about hope—the belief that the Advisory Board can help The Salvation Army as it endeavors to do the most good in the community.

The Portland Metro Advisory Board, which meets bimonthly, represents the community’s interests and needs, and helps The Salvation Army advance its mission: to meet human needs without discrimination and to be a transforming influence in that community. The board currently has 30 members plus five life members.

Thornton, who has served on the Portland board for six years, is passionate about The Salvation Army and what it can achieve. She serves as Chair of the board’s Public Relations and Marketing Committee, which meets every month except December. Before moving to Portland, she served on the advisory board in High Point, North Carolina, for 14 years, while working there as a Fox news anchor. Currently, she is the morning co-host and producer of Salem Media Group’s 104.1 The Fish radio program in Portland. She’s on the air Monday through Friday, from 6-10 a.m.

Thornton works to create positive change, with both The Salvation Army and her radio audience. She said when she’s on the radio, she imagines the person who’s listening.

“You’re talking to somebody like it’s just that one person,” she said. “Whatever they’re doing, wherever they’re going, they just heard from a friend who was encouraging them this morning. No matter what’s going on in your life, there is hope.”

Both on the Advisory Board and on the radio, Thornton embodies hope, excitement and a sense of what’s possible.

“Crystal’s passion for the ministry of The Salvation Army and the needs in her community have made her a strong local advocate for services to hurting and lonely people,” said Major Robert Lloyd, Portland Metro Coordinator for The Salvation Army. “Every day on her radio broadcasts she encourages kindness and compassion to others and almost always adds ‘let’s get excited’ as she shares her own enthusiasm for life and ministry.”

Why The Salvation Army?

Thronton said over the years a number of organizations have approached her to join their boards. She’s served on several; some she’s still involved with and some, she’s not.

“I stayed with The Salvation Army because I know firsthand of the mission,” she said. “The people who are involved are sincere about serving the community. I’ve seen how they handle their finances, how they trust the boards. And the boards that I’ve been on, have had some of the most outstanding, upstanding citizens in the communities. [It’s] that trust factor, to know that this organization is doing what it says it is going to do. And to see it firsthand come into fruition is why I’ve stayed.”

The connection with The Salvation Army began in her childhood in Topeka, Kansas. She said she had a good life.

“It took a village to raise us, though,” she said, as she recalled her mother getting groceries from The Salvation Army a few times, and some occasional help with utility payments.

Thornton’s great-grandparents founded the Church of God in Topeka. She said she was raised in the church. “That’s always been a part of me. But The Salvation Army is an extension of my personal faith. And that’s the other reason why I’ve stayed with it so long,” she said.

The Salvation Army in Portland

Thornton said the Advisory Board is working with Salvation Army leaders to alleviate the growing homelessness crisis in and around Portland, perhaps the biggest challenge currently facing the city.

According to PBS NewsHour, the problem has worsened due to a housing shortage, the coronavirus pandemic and high drug addiction rates. The 2022 Point in Time Count supports a statement by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler in the PBS report that the city has more than 3,000 people living without shelter, a 50 percent increase from 2019 and more than 700 encampments.

Thornton said she has seen the change over the last 20 years, remembering a time she was previously in Portland.

The Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter (SAFES) in downtown Portland, a long-time shelter for unhoused women, is meant to be part of the solution. SAFES now needs renovation, and funding for the project is one matter the Advisory Board is considering.

“What do we need to do as a board to help change this? We’ve got the best board in the world,” she said. “We’ve got the best organization in the world…And is the need there? Absolutely.”

She said she’s excited to see the local Salvation Army corps resume programs that shut down during the pandemic. The Portland-area Gresham Corps has brought back its music and after-school programs. Recently, Thornton interviewed Gresham Corps Officers Captain Caleb and Iliana Montes about their plans for the community on her podcast, “Life Inspired.”

“I found out what their goals are here,” Thornton said. “There’s a huge Latino community. And they are on fire. It gives me hope…when it comes to what we’re trying to do.”

The PR and Marketing Committee

In her role as Chair of the PR and Marketing Committee, Thornton strives to pinpoint exactly what The Salvation Army needs, so she knows how the board can help. This year she invited directors of Salvation Army programs in the area to a committee meeting to share what they’re doing, their goals and their needs.

“That was an eye opener,” Thornton said. “We learned about the Veterans Center, about the Moore Street Corps…and even what’s happening across the river in Vancouver [Washington].”

And this spring, she plans on participating in Capitol Day, when board members will go to the state legislature and Senate and share the needs of The Salvation Army.

“That’s a great opportunity,” she said. “Then when things come up, you’ve developed that partnership…Relationships, and strengthening—that’s my role as PR marketing chair.”

She said she’s “all in” when it comes to her role on the board.

“I love The Salvation Army,” she said. “It’s a privilege to be able to help the least of them, as the Bible says. My hope is that we not just help them, but we help raise them up so that they can become what God intended them to be.”

Do Good:

How the Gem State Falcons found more than a gym at The Salvation Army
How the Gem State Falcons found more than a gym at The Salvation Army

How the Gem State Falcons found more than a gym at The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army in Boise partners with Idaho’s first wheelchair

Creative arts delegates give up life’s hurry and step into rhythm with God
Conference delegates give up life's hurry and step into rhythm with God

Creative arts delegates give up life’s hurry and step into rhythm with God

Attendees to the 2023 Western Territorial Creative Arts Conference grow their

You May Also Like