by Don McPherson –
The Salvation Army is a pretty good place to work, but I am not talking about big salaries, bonuses or stock options. While other Information Technology jobs offer those large salaries or stock options or bonuses, we have more modest compensation at the Army. Nobody is getting rich here. What I have experienced over the ten years that I’ve worked here in the Information Technology Department at Territorial Headquarters for the Western United States, is there have been many exciting technical challenges, plenty of great learning opportunities and many wonderful people over those years.
One year ago, I was diagnosed with liver cancer, an aggressive cancer that does not have a good survival rate. As I am fighting the cancer, things have changed for me at work in many different ways. Because my stamina is so diminished, I can no longer devote the hours that I once could. With the effects of chemotherapy making it uncertain if I will be in the office on a day-to-day basis, I am unable to respond to emergencies, or take on new projects that used to excite me about working at the Army. Something else has also changed; I no longer see the people I work with as just fellow employees or the officers as just the bosses. They are all much more than that now. They are my friends, and that is something I do not take lightly. Of course they were my friends all along, but it took this personal challenge for me to slow down and notice the blessing of friendship that I have been surrounded by at the Army.
My baffle against cancer has been an emotional roller coaster ride—there are tremendous highs when a positive diagnosis is received, and deep lows, when my treatments do not work as hoped or the pain is too much. I don’t think that I could make it without the help and kindness from my colleagues at work. They have gone the extra mile to rally around me and give me the support I have needed. From allowing me to have a flexible work schedule, to donating their vacation time so that I would have enough to carry me through on the many chemo days when I cannot get out of bed, to including me in the daily prayer circles. Everyone has gone out of their way to help me fight and survive the cancer. I have had offers of personal help, support and professional advice from so many, from Commissioner Bond to the officers and employees from the different departments at THQ. I have also received much needed vacation time donated not just from fellow employees at headquarters where I work, but all around the Western Territory.
I never expected to be on the receiving side of the Army’s mission. But truly, The Salvation Army is a caring place. The Salvation Army is all about people. Through its service and helping of humanity it demonstrates the goodness of a loving God. I also know that if I were working for any other organization I would not have had this level of personal support. It has made the difference between life and death for me.
My life may not be as long as I would like it to be and I know that when my time comes, it will be according to God’s timetable. I have asked Him if I could have more time, and whatever He gives me, I will enjoy it to the full, and spend it with my family and friends, who include the people I work with at The Salvation Army.
So when I say that I became rich working at The Salvation Army, it has nothing to do with material wealth—rather I have discovered the richness of friendship, genuine concern, and fellowship. I am truly a wealthy man.
—Don lost his battle with cancer on June 12, 2004.