by Mark A. Kellner –
Forty-eight hours after an impressive, 2-to-1 re-election victory, Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan was among the honorees of The Salvation Army’s Southern California Division, during the annual “Sally Awards” dinner held at the Universal City Hilton Hotel.
More than 400 friends of the Army turned out for the ceremony which honored The Riordan Foundation, Bishop Charles Blake of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ, and local NBC television weathercaster Fritz Coleman for their support of and service to the Army.
“I’m in love with The Salvation Army,” Mayor Riordan, said after receiving the Sally Award from Divisional Commander Lt. Col. Alfred Van Cleef. “It’s very easy to give money–what is hard is to use it well.”
The Mayor praised the Army for its resourceful social programs aimed at meeting human needs. “My first major involvement with The Salvation Army,” he said, “was at the Bell Shelter, [and] I’ve never been so impressed. They got people off the street and taught them skills and got them jobs to go to.”
The Riordan Foundation, chaired by the Mayor, who earned a reputation as an attorney and businessman before entering politics, has long been a supporter of Salvation Army programs, including the Red Shield Youth Center, where the Foundation was instrumental in providing a computerized learning center and tutorial training program. The Foundation has also founded training and adult literacy programs at the Army’s Westwood Transitional Village and the Army’s unique Haven program housed on a U.S. Veterans Administration campus and at the Bell Shelter.
Riordan Foundation President Mary Odell said the group’s partnership with the Army “has benefitted numerous children in our city, and we look forward to a continued association.”
The evening began with music by Salvationist Steve Allen, who is coordinator of social services for the Army in Los Angeles. Mr. Michael P. Birkholm, chairman of the Army’s Los Angeles Metropolitan Advisory Board, expressed words of welcome, while Lt. Col. Sherryl Van Cleef, divisional director of women’s organizations, offered the invocation.
Longtime news anchors from KNBC-4 TV Paul Moyer and Kelly Lange were on hand to oversee the festivities, which followed a video presentation on “Need Knows No Season,” narrated by veteran KNBC-TV newsman Jess Marlow. Moyer and Lange teased colleague Fritz Coleman, who had previously served as master of ceremonies at the last five Sally Award banquets. Coleman has also been a major supporter of the division’s annual Christmas Kettle appeal, often broadcasting messages of support during his nightly weathercasts. For the past three years, Coleman has been the patron of an annual “Fair Weather” golf competition held to raise money for the Army.
Presenting Coleman with the “Others” award, Lt. Col. Van Cleef said, “This award just has one word on it–and that’s all that counts: ‘Others’.”
After this initial presentation, the Sally Awards audience was rocked and impressed by the 25-voice Lighthouse Gospel Choir, made up of graduates of the Army’s Harbor Light program. The rousing gospel music of this group, highlighted by three backup musicians, had audience members clapping in time with the music and delivering a standing ovation at the end.
The divisional commander then presented the “William Booth Award” to Bishop Charles Blake, senior minister of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Starting in 1969 with a congregation of 50, Bishop Blake has developed the West Angeles church into a neighborhood dynamo with more than 15,000 members, a wide variety of social programs, and a neighborhood development corporation which is aimed at helping the economy in the church’s area.
Following Bishop Blake’s presentation, Lt. Robert Marshall, commanding officer of the Compton, Calif., corps, sang “My Tribute” as part of the special music of the evening. Western Territorial Commander Peter H. Chang offered the benediction.