“Thank you”: The magic words

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Partners in Mission Award expanded to entire Western Territory

by Karen Gleason –

Previous Partner in Mission Award recipient Dr. F. Leland Reitler and Major Robert Rudd [Photo by Luis Uribe]

“Unthankfulness is theft.” Martin Luther

“Never miss an opportunity to say thank you,” said Major Robert Rudd, Western territorial community relations and development (CRD) secretary, when asked about the Partners in Mission award, which this year is open to Salvation Army units throughout the Western Territory.

The intent of this award—the brain-child of Rudd—is to honor those non-Salvationist individuals who, “by virtue of their professional standing/position in a community demonstrate support for/of The Salvation Army.” The award can only be presented during National Salvation Army week, observed annually the second week in May.

Rudd is passionate about the purpose of the award. “We want some intentionality—we shouldn’t be dismissive in our thankfulness. We don’t want to just crank it out.” These individuals help The Salvation Army in “doing the most good” in the community, where Army leaders may be new to the area, relying on the advisory board and local leaders to help them gain knowledge of the community and recognize needs. As an organization, The Salvation Army frequently asks for help, and its friends, its partners, are ready and willing to support the Army in its mission.

“The real intent of the gift is that it be received—this fulfills the process,” said Rudd. “We need to say thank you.”

Rudd added that the award celebrates the contribution of advisory organizations, which are vital in the pursuit of our mission. He pointed to mission statement as inscribed in The Song Book of The Salvation Army, which notes: “Its membership includes…members of varied activity groups and volunteers who serve as advisors, associates and committed participants in its service function.”

While a person nominated for the Partners in Mission award need not be on an advisory board, Rudd sees the boards are part of the process, as they are uniquely attuned to the community.

Any unit with an advisory board may nominate an individual for the award—there is no limit to the number that the territory can distribute; however, nominations are limited to one per unit. Any unit within the territory’s 12 commands—10 divisions, the adult rehabilitation centers, and the College for Officer Training—can participate by submitting an award application (due the first day of April) to the CRD department at territorial headquarters (more information below). Partners in Mission honorees will receive a numbered award at a celebration held in their community during National Salvation Army Week.

On May 13, 2009, the CRD presented its first Partners in Mission award to Dr. F. Leland Reitler, a physician in Southern California, who through the years has demonstrated support “in an extraordinary fashion” to The Salvation Army by his care of officers throughout the area.

In a New Frontier article (May 8, 2009), Georgia Tzanidis wrote: “Reitler inquires about their (his patients) spiritual condition as well as their physical. He prays with them. In one case, he made repeated house visits because an injured couple was unable to come to his office. In another, he insisted on a leave of absence for an officer in a stressful situation. He advocates whatever it takes for his Army officers to be and stay healthy.”

This year the award is available to non-Salvationists throughout the Western Territory who demonstrate support for the Army “in an extraordinary fashion.” Rudd’s plan is for the award to gain momentum, so that in coming years it spreads beyond the territory.

The honor is meant to hold a unique place among Salvation Army awards, with the individual recognized being carefully selected. “We want a real partner—someone who embodies service, heart, passion and commitment to the Army,” said Rudd.

Questions? Contact Major Robert Rudd at the CRD department at 562-491-8350.

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