Ribbon Cutting At El Cajon Red Shield Center

Salvation Army opens Red Shield Center in El Cajon


The Salvation Army of San Diego held a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting Nov. 2 for its newly completed East County Red Shield Community Center in El Cajon, California, with local dignitaries including El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Salvation Army leadership in attendance. 

The $5.2 million facility was financed by donations and a $100,000 grant from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. It aims to help those who are underserved in El Cajon, which has a poverty rate of 24 percent—more than 10 percent higher than nearby San Diego.

At the grand opening, San Diego County Divisional Secretary Lt. Col. Lee Lescano welcomed attendees before California South Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries Lt. Col. Lani Chamness opened the ceremony with a word of prayer. Youth from El Cajon led the Pledge of Allegiance and sang before California South Divisional Commander Lt. Col John Chamness gave remarks.

Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries Colonel Colleen Riley read scripture and Chief Secretary Colonel Douglas Riley delivered a message of dedication. El Cajon Corps Officers Captains Bonita and Sean Kelsey gave the closing remarks and benediction before the ribbon cutting. Following the ceremony, the public was invited to enjoy the space with free tours, games and food.

Located on the property adjacent to the current El Cajon Corps, the 29,540-square foot facility will offer more opportunities to positively impact the lives of those in need in the East County through a new food choice pantry and social services center, gymnasium and computer lab. 

“We are hoping to see even more lives changed as a result of this project,” said El Cajon Corps 

Officer Captain Sean Kelsey. “We are so blessed to have the support of the community to build such a wonderful facility, and we hope that it will give back to El Cajon ten-fold.” 

The client choice food pantry is believed to be the first of its kind in East County. It will give clients an opportunity to select items from pantry shelves, rather than being given a prepackaged bag of food. It will also enable the corps to be the largest provider of emergency food assistance in the East County.

The gymnasium will offer free and affordable health, wellness and sports activities including after-school programs and sports leagues. With a limited number of community centers in the area, it will also serve as a meeting space for senior nutrition, youth and fitness classes. The computer lab will also serve as a community resource. 

More than 40,000 people are served by The Salvation Army’s El Cajon Corps each year. In a typical month, the corps provides more than 950 families with food assistance, 300 families with government commodities and 1,400 lunches to senior citizens. With the new community center, the number is expected to increase significantly.

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