ROCKFORD (WIFR) – A leadership change is coming to the Salvation Army. Majors Randy and Kathy Hellstrom are transferring to Omaha, Nebraska next week, leaving behind a lot of fond memories and obstacles overcome since the height of the recession.
Demand for donated groceries hasn’t changed much during Randy and Kathy Hellstrom’s tenure at the Salvation Army in Rockford. They have witnessed many victories though.
“There are a lot of people’s lives who have been changed and that’s exciting to see,” said Major Kathy Hellstrom.
The couple arrived in 2007 to big challenges. The Rockford Chapter was three quarters of a million dollars in debt, donations were down and more families needed help for the very first time.
“We went through a period where we had to do some downsizing reduction of program, but we’ve been very creative in use of volunteers,” said Major Randy Hellstrom.
Volunteers now staff the homeless feeding program. Other services were consolidated with similar programs run by someone else.
While to many, the Salvation Army is most visible during Christmastime, it helps families year-round like with food, utilities, and getting sober. The Hellstroms say they’re honored to help connect rich and poor and have been amazed by Rockford’s generosity.
“Rockford is a wonderful community. It’s a special community filled with a lot of people who care,. We have our problems like any community but there are so many good people here, there are so many wonderful things happening, we count it a privilege to have been able to be here for six years.”
The Hellstroms advance their leadership positions with the Salvation Army by overseeing chapters in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Western Iowa. They’ll be replaced by Majors Steve and Christine Merritt from Omaha, Nebraska.
Major Randy Hellstrom will preach his final church service this Sunday. The public is invited to attend. It’s at 10:30, followed by a cookout at 12:30 and a farewell service at 1:30.