The Salvation Army’s minister was bid by God to leave his home country of Korea and go to America.
At the age of 19, Capt. Syung Young Lee had the American dream and the desire to make “lots of money,” he said, adding that after arriving, he began to stray from God. His wife Hae Young Lee prayed for him until he got the calling to become an ordained minister for the Salvation Army of Loudoun County, a position he filled in summer 2001.
Twelve years later, “I have a new reason. I have a new dream. It’s not for me. It’s for the people who live in this country,” Lee said on March 28 to the 125 guests attending the Annual Appreciation Dinner 2002.
As the core officer, Lee leads the Salvation Army Chapel in Leesburg, a church of its own denomination and an evangelical arm of the Universal Christian Church. The 50 soldiers or members of the church provide a hands-on mission through community service.
“You don’t have to be a soldier to volunteer, to work there or to receive assistance,” said Jessica Pappas, head of public relations for the Salvation Army of Loudoun County.
THE CHURCH is part of the Salvation Army corps, along with the Thrift Stores in Leesburg and Purcellville and the warehouse, the special service office and the church office, all in Leesburg. The Salvation Army provides several special services, including emergency assistance funding for Loudoun County residents who cannot afford their rent or utility bills, holiday food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas time and summer camp sponsorships. The Salvation Army sponsors the Apple Tree Program to provide children with school supplies and clothing before school starts and the Accessible Medication Project to distribute medication to those without insurance or with inadequate insurance.
“The more I participate, [the more] I realize how much the army does for those who are not seen,” said Bruce Griffin, advisory board chairman.
The Thrift Stores take in donated items and sell them to the general public at a low cost. Those in need receive vouchers to get clothes, furniture and other items for free. A food pantry also provides food through the social service office.
“They use every part of the resources they have in such a good way,” said Georgia Bange, advisory board member. “They’re there anytime any place.”
ONE OBVIOUS PLACE was at the Sept. 11 disaster site at the Pentagon. The Salvation Army for the capital region did not do any campaigning to collect disaster relief funds, $4 million in the capital region and $70 million nationwide.
“Before the appeals were made, donations came in. Before the smoke cleared, volunteers were working,” said Col. William Crabson, divisional commander of the National Capital and Virginia Division.
Crabson said the Salvation Army was on site that day by 11 a.m. and stayed until Sept. 28. “I’m still amazed at how the Salvation Army gets places where no one else has access and gets there fast,” he said.
The Salvation Army set up six operating stations at three locations for the command officer in Washington, D.C., in Arlington and at the Pentagon to provide food services and counseling, to distribute identification badges and later to clear the site.
“The Salvation Army went to work instinctively and immediately. They knew exactly what to do,” Crabson said. “That’s what the Salvation Army excelled at is … simply serving. We were simply there to serve.”
THE SALVATION ARMY in Loudoun County began in the 1970s as a service unit ran by volunteers and in 1993 established a corps. The non-profit agency, which operates out of two office locations, aims to build one facility and has identified a possible site in Leesburg. The agency plans to conduct a five-year capital fund-raising effort to raise money for a new building once a site is found.
“Because of the population growth in Loudoun County, it’s needed,” Pappas said, adding that operating in one building would save on expenses.
“The Salvation Army is waking up in Loudoun County," said David Tong, advisory board secretary. "We’re going to be exploding with our growth."