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Salvation Army celebrates 20 years in Guam

Service began after a typhoon struck the Pacific island in 1992.

By April Manibusan
The Salvation Army in Guam recently celebrated its 20th year of service on this Pacific island, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands. Located on the other side of the dateline, Guam is where the day begins in the the U.S., and lies in the same time zone as Melbourne, Australia.

Western Territorial Commander Commissioner James Knaggs joined the Annual Appreciation Luncheon held April 28 to honor the Guam Salvation Army’s community partners and volunteers and to commemorate the Army’s 20th anniversary there. “The Army’s mission of meeting human needs in Jesus’ name without discrimination continues to inspire the work being done here,” Knaggs said.

The Salvation Army has flourished on Guam since its introduction following Typhoon Omar in August 1992. Omar hit hard with winds up to 155 mph. Directly following its onslaught, The Salvation Army appointed then Lts. Ted and Debbie Horwood to Guam to serve the victims. After establishing a church, the Horwoods opened the thrift store, which funded the corps’ social service programs.

In 1995, then Captains Dave and Linda Harmon replaced the Horwoods. During their 11 years, the Harmons opened the Lighthouse Recovery Center (LRC) in 1998—a 16-bed facility for homeless men with substance abuse issues; established the Family Services Center in 2002 to assist individuals and families with food, clothing, rental and utility needs; and became active in the Guam Homeless Coalition. Today, the Army continues to be the frontline agency addressing homeless issues on Guam.

In June 2006, after being promoted to majors and receiving the Ancient Order of Chamori Award—the highest award the governor of Guam can bestow on a non-native for exceptional service to the people of Guam—the Harmons were reassigned.

Majors Brian and Leticia Saunders replaced the Harmons but had to relocate due to health concerns.

In June 2007, Captains Thomas and Christine Taylor assumed leadership. Today, they continue service to the island.

“Under their command,” said Knaggs, “the services and ministries here are dynamic, pertinent and holy.”

During their tenure, the Taylors expanded the substance abuse treatment program to meet the growing number of men needing services and facilitated the LRC’s  2009 move to a new location, which increased its bed capacity to 30. Currently, over 100 children attend the Youth Enrichment Program each week, and Sunday services draw over 150 people.

The Red Kettle Campaign on Guam continues to be volunteer-driven, breaking records with last year’s all-time high of $74,623. The Thanksgiving Feast feeds over 1,100 people annually. Over 500 individuals and families receive relief through the Christmas Food Box Program. Santa’s Toy Shop receives support from businesses and organizations with more than 5,000 new, unwrapped toys donated for more than 2,000 children.

“The island hasn’t had a typhoon in over 10 years,”  Knaggs said, “but The Salvation Army still has its sleeves rolled up helping individuals and families who suffer from their own personal disasters.”

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