Phoenix Shines in Valley of the Sun


STARTERS–The Army band, under the direction of B/M Ralph Pearce, played the national anthem at the opening of the Diamondbacks ball game

Text and photos
by Sue Schumann Warner – 

Head out of downtown Phoenix on East Van Buren and you’ll pass the diners and gas stations and bungalow motels that lined this stretch of Route 66 in the ’50s and ’60s–places like the Copa and the Dunes motels–that were once filled with vacationing families. Now, they provide a forlorn backdrop for prostitutes who saunter along the street and motel marquees that advertise free ice, adult videos, and weekly rates.

Just down the street, however, sitting neat and tidy, is the former Desert Hills Hotel–once, with its three pools, restaurant, and six two-story units, the grandest of them all–and now home to the Salvation Army’s Southwest Divisional Headquarters (DHQ). It’s a 10-acre oasis of hope and healing, not only for East Van Buren, but for all of this desert community known as the Valley of the Sun.

At the hub of the Army’s work in southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas, DHQ not only administers the Army’s staff and programming, it also houses programs including the recovery center, Herberger Childcare Center, the Family Crisis Shelter, and a number of fixed low-income housing units for seniors.

Behind the complex, a 16,000 sq. foot warehouse provides storage for disaster relief assistance donations and for Christmas assistance gifts. Programs such as Project HOPE and Family Services are administered there.

Divisional leaders Lt. Colonels Olin and Dianne Hogan have overseen the Army’s work in the Southwest for almost four years. During that time, 17 outposts and corps have been opened, the number of officers and envoys has grown from 75 to 120, and $6.6 million has gone into the construction of Camp Ponderosa. Once $10 million in debt, it is one of the top funded divisions in the territory.

Donor giving is up as well. In the past three years, said Dr. Jim Fitzpatrick, director of development, donors have tripled their giving, going from some $334,000 to $1,090,000.

“The accomplishment I am most proud of is the fact that people in this division are strong–spiritually, morally, and in their commitment to Christ and The Salvation Army,” said Hogan. “Strength and spiritual life are the most important issues to me.”

Hogan sees himself and Lt. Colonel Dianne Hogan primarily as servant leaders, being “linch pins” between territorial headquarters and the field. “I also see us as enablers/energizers, who are responsible for utilizing divisional resources in a way to cause significant growth–especially in making soldiers.”

Dianne Hogan feels a special concern for women, with a desire to enable them to do their job better through training, motivating, and enriching. “Self-esteem is a big issue for many women,” she said. “My job is to pay attention to officers and help them; to encourage them and to be a sounding board.” She explains, “This is like being a corps officer, with soldiers (who are officers) spread out a little more.”

Both are looking toward the future. “We’ve made a commitment by 2010 to have 100 corps, 10,000 soldiers and 100,000 in attendance by then,” he said.

Partnering with the Army in its march toward 2000 are a growing number of corporations whose employees have found satisfaction in volunteering. They keep Volunteer Director Marsha Pearson busy organizing and coordinating projects. Last year, 250 employees of Ashland Chemicals were in Phoenix for a sales conference and provided four hours of service in volunteer projects and $25,000 in services to the Army–a first for volunteering. Although the group went touring while in Phoenix and visited the Grand Canyon and other attractions, they rated their volunteering as “the best event of the trip.”

Other corporations that have provided volunteers and services include: Allied Signal, American Express, Prudential and Reebok.

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