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Celebrating a Century of Compassion

The Salvation Army of Valdosta is preparing to celebrate a century of service. Established on August 31, 1924, Valdosta’s Salvation Army Corp was located at two sites, including Lee Street, before moving to its current facility on Smithland Place in January 1988.


For a hundred years, this international faith-based organization has stood as a beacon of hope, a source of aid, and a symbol of compassion for the people of Valdosta and its neighboring communities.

As the milestone approaches, Valdosta Corp Captains Hoon and Judy Chung said it’s not merely a time for reflection on the past but an opportunity to involve the community to engage the community in sustaining the Salvation Army’s work for years to come. 


“It’s a team effort,” remarks Judy, whose parents are retired Salvation Army officers. “The Salvation Army often recommends married couples because the workload can be heavy and demanding.”

While Judy’s roots in the Salvation Army run deep—her parents are retired Salvation Army officers—Hoon’s connection started while he was in college and worked at a Salvation Army summer camp, where he met Judy.

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Hoon and Judy Chung,

Salvation Army of Valdosta Corp Captains

“Going to summer camp changes lives,” reflects Hoon, a former police officer. “I wasn’t a camper but a counselor, but it was a turning point in my life and where I met Judy.” 

 

Hoon and Judy are celebrating nine years as Salvation Army cadets and officers. Before moving to Valdosta last year, they served communities in Memphis, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky.


Hoon draws on his experience in law enforcement to enhance his role within the Salvation Army. “As a police officer, I learned the importance of treating people with respect. While there are bad individuals, most of the time, people just want to be treated with respect, and that’s what we’re doing here.”

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Operating as part of the universal Christian Church, the Salvation Army is a ministry motivated by God’s love. Its mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ while addressing basic human needs without discrimination. 


“This is more than a job for us,” Hoon said. “God is giving us a responsibility, and we love being here—particularly on Sundays when the chapel is filled with adults and children for worship.” 


“We’re a family of six, so when we got here, we were mostly the congregation,” adds Judy. “Since that time, we’ve come to understand that our ministry comes from a place of complete obedience. We are not the ones producing the fruit; we are His hands and feet.”

With Sunday worship services averaging 40 to 50 adults and children, Judy notes that the modest chapel is nearing capacity. “This is a good problem, and we may need to expand the chapel to accommodate the growing community.” 


Since its humble start in London in 1865, when its founder William Booth walked the streets preaching to the “homeless, the hungry, and the destitute,” the Salvation Army has grown to a worldwide mission with offices in 130 counties.


Like its counterparts around the world, the Salvation Army Valdosta Corps works to meet the needs of the whole person through short and long-term services and programs, including a men’s shelter and recovery program, hunger relief efforts, rent and utility assistance, summer camp scholarships, holiday assistance program, and disaster relief initiatives.

The Salvation Army’s 30-day emergency shelter is for homeless men and operates on a first-come, first-served basis. The shelter opens at 6 p.m., and residents are served dinner and breakfast but must exit by 7 a.m. every day. 


“Each man is assigned a case manager who helps them set goals and establish a timeline,” Judy explained. “When they leave the shelter for the day, they are required to actively search for employment.”


The first seven nights in a 12-month period are free of charge; after that, there is a $7.00 per night fee.

“Most people in the community are aware of our men’s shelter,” Hoon explained. “We’ve had some great success. Recently, a couple of the men have found work and are moving closer to getting a place to live, which is the ultimate goal.” 


Hunger relief is one of the Salvation Army’s most essential services. The organization offers a twice-weekly food pantry and meal program to ensure that people facing poverty and homelessness can access nutritious food and maintain their dignity during tough times. In the past year, the organization has distributed 11,594 meals as part of its social services, including 4,237 meals after Sunday worship.

"We deeply appreciate the support from the United Way, which enables us to offer utility assistance to families navigating various challenges."

- Judy Hoon

As a partner agency of the Greater Valdosta United Way, the Salvation Army of Valdosta received and distributed $33,500 for utility assistance in 2023.


“As the cost of food and essential necessities continue to rise, we witness many families grappling with being able to pay their utility bills,” said Hoon about the federal Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds.


Hoon is deeply committed to the Salvation Army summer camp program, which caters to underprivileged children who cannot afford to attend such camps. “I believe that these summer camps can have a transformative effect on a child’s life,” he said. "We teach them about God, facilitate new friendships, encourage outdoor activities, and foster safe connections. Even if we positively impact one child’s life, all our efforts are worth it.”

United Way funding also renovated the men’s shelter bathroom, provided gifts for the Angel Tree, and aided in hurricane disaster relief.


“We are proud to be a United Way partner agency and part of a tremendous network of nonprofits dedicated to assisting people in need,” Hoon said. “It’s great to work with the other agencies; it brings all the pieces together to help more people in the community, especially during Hurricane Idalia.” 
As South Georgia braced for the impact of Hurricane Idalia, the Salvation Army of Georgia was prepared to aid affected communities.

“Once the Valdosta area was impacted, there were teams in place and ready to go,” Judy said. They are looking at radar screens and weather conditions.”


With a trail of destruction, including damaged homes, downed trees, and widespread power outages, the Salvation Army of Georgia deployed eight canteens—mobile feeding units—and specially trained disaster crews to the most affected southern Georgia counties, which included Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Cook, Lanier, and Lowndes counties. 


“We were able to house the mobile teams at Camp Rock, another United Way partner agency,” Judy explained. “They were here and each day had a strategic plan for meals, based on the most need.”


In the days that followed Hurricane Idalia, the Salvation Army provided over 33,200 meals, 13,300 drinks, and 7,700 snacks. This was made possible by 53 disaster workers who contributed over 91,600 hours of service, including emotional and spiritual care to nearly 1,300 people.


After the mobile units left, the Salvation Army in Valdosta distributed 1,000 clean-up kits, 175 comfort and hygiene kits, 2,880 food boxes, and 3,401 water bottles. 


As the Salvation Army of Valdosta prepares to mark its 100th anniversary, it is a testament to the power of compassion and community. Through a century of service, the organization has touched countless lives, offering hope, dignity, and a helping hand to those in need.


After the mobile units left, the Salvation Army in Valdosta distributed 1,000 clean-up kits, 175 comfort and hygiene kits, 2,880 food boxes, and 3,401 water bottles. 


As the Salvation Army of Valdosta approaches its 100th anniversary, it continues to stand as a testament to the power of compassion and community. Throughout a century of service, the organization has touched countless lives, offering hope, dignity, and a helping hand to those in need.

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