BY MAJOR DAVID HUDSON and HOPE EVANS –
Majors Russell and Jacqué Fritz, corps officers in San Bernardino, Calif., are the year 2000 Western Territory recipients of the Army’s National Award for Excellence in Social Work, which was presented by Lt. Colonel Evelyn Hunter at the Sierra Del Mar Divisional World Services Ingathering.
This is the first time the award has been given to a husband and wife team and it is believed the Fritzes are the first Salvation Army corps officers to be honored with this award.
“The award is given each year to an individual who has demonstrated vision and creativity in planning and delivery of service along with a history of commitment to the social service work of the Army and to the clients served,” said Gordon Bingham, territorial social services director. “Majors Russell and Jacqué Fritz were cited for their work of energizing and expanding the community services in San Bernardino, including development of an innovative transitional program for the homeless, and coupling this with dramatic growth in the worship program.”
In the past, this award has been given to professional social service personnel.
The mayor of San Bernardino, Judith Valles, was delighted to hear of the award: “The City of San Bernardino is proud to have Majors Russell and Jacqué Fritz presented with this prestigious award. They typify the outstanding work, unselfish efforts and unconditional giving that The Salvation Army is known for throughout the communities they serve.” The Mayor has invited the Fritzes to attend a May meeting of the City Council to be recognized for their achievements.
When the Fritzes came to the San Bernardino Corps in 1996, they immediately began building the social service programs offered at the corps into a cohesive and effective tool for meeting the problems faced by the many needy in the area. Advocat-ing a philosophy that rehabilitation is a community-wide issue, the Fritzes developed a master plan for the corps’ social service programs that covered the entire city and targeted programs for children, the homeless and seniors.
In the process, they made valuable contacts with the leaders of other local social service agencies and the city government. They are now well known and well respected throughout the community.
The Fritzes have proven their ability to relate to people from all walks of life. They have built strong personal relationships with the local social service clients, many of whom attend the standing-room-only crowds at Sunday services. In short, they make everyone feel at home at the corps.
Russell and Jacqué carefully monitor the expenses of the corps social service programs, ensuring that they are financially sound. At the same time, they do not hesitate to seek funds for their programs from outside sources.
For example, when the need arose for a transitional living facility for men, they developed the Path to Prosperity program. This residential program, which will open later this year, will provide education, on-the-job-training, placement services, mentoring, and case management to 26 residents, as well as to an equal number of men who live elsewhere.
The Fritzes submitted a proposal to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and were awarded $662,267 over a three-year period.
Other successes include turning the Payee program (that helps people who manage their Social Security and other government in-come) into a self-sufficient program while doubling the number of people served, and tripling the number of homeless served by the corps meal program.
The chairperson of the San Bernardino Corps Advisory Board, Craig Wilson, has great respect for the Fritzes and their work: “The Advisory Board and those working with Majors Russell and Jacqué Fritz have been very proud of their accomplishments here in San Bernardino. We are delighted to see an award that recognizes those accomplishments and the character of the Fritzes. It is an honor that they have earned and deserve. They are an outstanding example of what can be accomplished with hard work and a commitment and devotion to Christ.”
In accepting the award on behalf of his wife and himself, Fritz said, “This is an honor, not for my wife and me, but for the wonderful staff at the San Bernardino Corps. Even though we may be instigators, it is the staff who does the work in carrying out our ideas. We want them to know that, as far as we’re concerned, they are also recipients of this award.”
The Salvation Army, Corps members, and the community are the grateful beneficiaries of the ministry, loyalty and dedication that the Fritzes bring to the San Bernardino Corps.