New officers installed at Salvation Army

New officers installed at Salvation Army

Image Credit: Teri Stein

It was a hectic day, one Capts. Andrew and Lydia Behr expected when they became Salvation Army officers. At the end of June, a day after former area Salvation Army Lts. Andrew and Amanda Allen moved out of their home in Dover, which is provided by the Salvation Army, the Behr family moved in and were installed as the new leaders of the Salvation Army in New Philadelphia.

The Allens left the home on Monday, and the Behrs moved in on Tuesday from their first assignment in East Liverpool.

“The people who moved in to our house in East Liverpool got there like an hour and a half after we moved out,” Andrew Behr said.

With new officers coming in and others retiring, the organization shifts many of its officers at the same time each year, depending on the officers’ strengths and the organization’s needs.

The Behrs, who are originally from Ohio, met while attending Mount Vernon Nazarene College in the drama department. They have been involved in the Salvation Army for a total of nine years and have four children: Lillianna, 9; twins Willow and Autumn, 7; and Jeremiah, 1. This is the second placement for the couple as officers.

Prior to that, the couple took two years of training to becoming Salvation Army officers, which is equivalent to full-time schooling, plus a part-time job, which provides hands-on training.

“They have us going out several weekends throughout the semester. Then we have a work placement during the summer and work placement during one of the winter breaks to give us the hands-on. We have in-class learning and then workplace learning. It’s a very encompassing program,” Andrew Behr said.

They also worked at the Mount Vernon Salvation Army prior to going to training school.

“Being officers is a big commitment. They tell us where to move and when to move. If you can do the two years of training, then you’ll be OK,” Behr said. “With everything else the workload isn’t quite as much after training.”

At their prior assignment in East Liverpool, the post’s main goal was feeding people.

“Probably our biggest program would be the food pantry. We had a couple hundred families that would come through every month for food,” Lydia Behr said. “We had a soup kitchen, but that was only once a week.”

Their food pantry in East Liverpool was the only one open five days a week and the only one that was open throughout the COVID-19 shutdowns. They also operated programs there to provide children with shoes and coats and the Red Kettle campaign, among others.

In her work at Mount Vernon, Lydia Behr was the Learning Zone director, so the couple is familiar with the program that is already in place here.

In East Liverpool the couple was very hands-on. With the move to Tuscarawas County, where there are more programs serving the community and more part-time workers helping with the effort, they feel their role is more administrative.

The Behrs are excited the Tuscarawas County Salvation Army has a soup kitchen five days a week, and they look forward to opening it back up to indoor dining. Since COVID, the soup kitchen has been operated as a drive-thru.

They feel socialization is important, and it’s nice if people can just come and hang out with each other.

“It’s an excuse to get out of the house, and we have a really nice setup for just sitting and chatting,” Andrew Behr said. “It’s one thing to feed people. It’s another thing to give them a place to go and be with other people, especially if they don’t have that very often in their life.”

Volunteers will be needed to help with the soup kitchen and can call the local office for more information.

There is much to look forward to at the Dover location. This fall the Northeast Ohio Salvation Army started a music school on Thursday of each week from 5-7:30 p.m. The class offers brass, percussion, piano and vocal technique.

For Salvation Army officers, Christmas starts in July. That is when they start working on the upcoming Red Kettle campaign. The Behrs will get information out on this year’s campaign soon and will look for volunteers.

“We have a whole kettle sponsorship program,” Andrew Behr said. “We’ll be reaching out to businesses here in the coming weeks to participate with us in that.”

The Red Kettle campaign helps fund local Salvation Army programs year round.

“Everything that’s donated to here stays here,” Andrew Behr said.

The Behrs are settling in to the area. They like the amenities here including nearby Amish country and Tuscora Park.

“It’s just a beautiful area, and the community seems very community focused, which is good,” Lydia Behr said. “It’s a small-town feel, but it’s not too small.”