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The Salvation Army has timed the ribbon cutting and official opening of its new commercial-grade kitchen to coincide with an important milestone.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of its service to Channel-Port aux Basques and neighbouring communities along the southwest coast.
“That’s a long time,” says branch Capt. Maurice Collins. “We’re celebrating 125 years of giving hope.”
In November 1893, the Channel corps of Port aux Basques was officially established. The first citadel was constructed in Channel East, at the spot where a Salvation Army cemetery remains today.
In 1978 the organization opened its current building in the Grand Bay area.
“We’ve had several churches, a lot of them down in Channel,” notes Collins.
William (Bucky) Clarke comes to the Salvation Army a lot. He remembers the Army Hill location from his childhood and says he particularly loved the music they played.
Clarke attends the Roman Catholic church for worship services, but regularly volunteers for the Salvation Army. He’s been working with the Salvation Army for at least the past five years.
“It’s a passion with me. I’ve been at this since 1971,” says Clarke of his volunteering effort.
He credits his quick camaraderie and friendship with Collins for furthering that passion.
A Red Seal chef, Clarke has planned a feast of chicken breast, fresh vegetables and plenty of trimmings for the celebratory anniversary dinner on Saturday evening, May 18. Invited dignitaries and guests include Mayor John Spencer and Area Commanders, Majors Scott and Michelle Rideout.
While the Salvation Army does its part, Collins is quick to point out the importance of support from communities.
“We want people to know that when they give, it’s going to the client,” says Collins. “Interesting fact… 91 cents of every dollar that you donate goes to the clients, and that other nine cents covers our administration fees.”
Since his appointment to the Port aux Basques corps two years ago, Collins reports there has been an increase in membership.
“Having these four walls gives us a place to operate, but we should be out in the community. It’s very important. People need to know that there’s a safe place to go, and that they can come without being discriminated against.”