La Grande in “Takeoff” Mode

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Corps Celebrates 100 Years

By Ron Carr –

Shortly after the first settlers came to the valley, The Salvation Army opened its work in La Grande, Ore. Captain and Mrs. M. Smith, in 1896, went to work in the fervent style of the early Salvation “warriors” and pioneers, claiming the new and fertile territory for “the honor and glory of God.”

The Salvation Army has come a long way in La Grande–from the horse-pulled wagon and rugged tent to a beautiful, newly remodeled center for worship and service and a well-equipped youth center. The new facilities offer expanded services to the individuals and families in Union County, and in particular to the young people.

“With the opening of the Youth Center, the Army is providing a vital service to this community and for our young people,” said District Judge Eric Valentine, friend of the Army. “The after school activities, including tutorial assistance, computer labs and game rooms, are already having a positive impact on the youth of our community.” In addition, the traditional services provided by the Army through the family services office and expanded food bank will continue to be provided, but with greater quality and efficiency, meeting the needs at the point of need.

“It has certainly been an interesting ride over the past 100 years,” said Lt. Colonel Richard Love, Cascade divisional commander. “With the recent addition of the youth center and the acquisition of the new facilities, I am confident that the present and future of the La Grande corps are secure.”

Special guest speaker, actor and former pro football player Reverend Rosey Grier met with over 180 people in the new gym to celebrate the occasion. This number was impressive considering the 12,000 population of La Grande and the cost of $50 per plate for the dinner.

“The success of this dinner goes to point out the commitment and strength of the La Grande Advisory Board,” said Captain DeWayne Halstad, corps officer. “We’ve told the story of the Army here in a significant way on this very special occasion, and many of our close friends and supporters were there to celebrate with us. I’m really proud of our board of volunteers.

“We are also grateful to Rosey Grier for joining us for this special event,” said Halstad. “He is a real gentleman and a good friend of our work.”

Grier captivated the audience as he spoke a message of salvation, and challenged everyone at the dinner to support the youth center and the work of The Salvation Army in Union County.

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