Stuart Powell, local businessman and “life member” of The Salvation Army was visibly moved with emotion when he accepted the David Bell Birney Hope Award at the 2012 annual appreciation dinner Tuesday night.
“Where there is loss, there is need. Where there is need, there is hope. Where there is hope there is The Salvation Army,” Powell said, quoting the groups core philosophy.
The Salvation Army’s gymnasium was transformed into a banquet facility for the event in which Lt. Dan Nelson, his wife, Capt. Sarah Nelson and the local chapter hosted area businesses committed to supporting the social services agency that has been a local presence for more than sixty years.
Powell accepted his award and noted when he became a member in 1974, the agency only served a small population in Danville and Boyle County. He gave the Nelsons a large amount of the credit for the remarkable growth of the helping hand in the years since.
“This year, the number was over 34,000 in five counties,” he said.
Colonels Dennis and Sharon Strissel, current divisional leaders of the Eastern Michigan Division, were the special guests. Dennis Strissel was the featured speaker. He talked about the various and important functions of a shield as protection in battle, as unifying protection for an army and identification in a group.
He also told a moving story of a young woman who was desperately poor, trying to keep her 11 children and new orphaned grandbaby alive. The kids knew to hide when there was a knock on the door but the kind Salvation¿Army officer eventually became the source of safety and security that saved a family from despair, if not death.
“One of those children,” Strissel said, “was my mother.”
Area businesses, industry and churches were recognized for their essential part in being what is often the first line of defense for families suffering from economic or other blows.
Also honored was Cecilia Bell with an Honorable Recognition of Outstanding Service Award. Bell has dedicated the past 10 years of her life to volunteering with The Salvation Army.