Former Sunbeam Continues Living Lessons Learned

Vicky Fields, Advisory Board Member, and Major Joe May, of The Salvation Army Kingsport, TN, enjoy helping their community.

As a Kingsport, TN, Advisory Board Member, Vicky Fields Sponsors Two for Camp

As a young girl, Vicky Fields adopted the Sunbeam motto of “Do Right.” In fact, it became a guiding force for her entire life. So, when Major Joe May of the The Salvation Army asked her to be an Advisory Board Member of the Kingsport, Tennessee, Division, saying “Yes” was easy and she happily recalled her years as a Sunbeam to him.

“When I was 5, 6, 7, those years, I was a Sunbeam in the early 1960’s. We went once a week to The Salvation Army to the facility that was hooked to the church. The facility is still standing in a part of Kingsport that is no longer a residential area. It was called Long Island. We lived on Jared Drive. I have three sisters, so we all went,” Fields explained as she reminisced about the area that is now primarily owned by the Eastman Chemical Company.

The Salvation Army Sunbeam program is for girls in grades 1-5 with the goal of helping them to become leaders through the development of positive social and communication habits, decision-making and life skills.

“We would go once a week. We would have a bible story, learn bible verses and sing songs. We had uniforms and I believe they were gray,” Fields said.

In the Christ–centered environment, girls are encouraged to develop their personal identity and character, based on Christian values and biblical principles.  These same principles are taught at The Salvation Army’s summer camp so when Major May asked her to participate at an Advisory Board meeting, she eagerly agreed.

The grey uniform for The Salvation Army’s Sunbeams was memorable to Vicky Fields. Image from vintagekidstuff.com

“I didn’t go to camp. I doubt they had a camp in the 60’s,” Fields said.  But that didn’t dim her enthusiasm as she agreed to sponsor two children for camp.

“It was so much fun shopping for the kids at camp. As I was shopping, I would think, ‘What would a girl like in the color of the sleeping bags? What would she like for shampoo? What would she like for all the necessities that she would need at camp? What color flip flops? I tried to imagine in my mind their age and what they would like,” Fields said.

As the mother of two daughters and grandmother to five, Fields, a banker by trade, has had a lot of practice in understanding children.

“I’ve been involved with youth since I was a teenager and it is just something I have a passion about. Any child that needs to be helped, I want the help. My daughters and grandchildren are blessings and that is why I choose to do what I did to sponsor the kids, in honor of them,” Fields said.

“The Salvation Army and the Sunbeams program were formative things in my childhood. It was something we looked forward to once a week. In the Sunbeams, we learned what my father and mother were also teaching us about the Bible and teaching us about Jesus and teaching us about God. We learned the bible stories that are so important and about having a relationship with our heavenly Father.  My father taught us that our heavenly Father takes care of us, no matter what. That is very important in my life and that was instilled in me at home and at the Sunbeams that we may be forsaken by everybody, but we do have a heavenly Father and He is always there no matter what. Life brings hard things and things in your life that you might make you feel alone but I have never felt that because of what I learned in the young formative years of my life, in my family and in that program,” Fields said.

Early Sunbeam badges encouraged girls to learn knowledge and skills. Image from vintagekidstuff.com.

The summer camp programs of The Salvation Army instill the same values learned in the Sunbeams program which fits between the Moonbeam program and the Girl Guard programs. Moonbeams are co-ed pre-k and kindergarten, and Girl Guards are older girls. The boy’s groups are Adventure Corps Explorers and Adventure Corps Rangers.

“I will be 67 next month so I know that was a big influence in my life to know the songs and get them in my head and get them in my heart. The bible verses, too, are in my head and in my heart. It was very important to learn these things,” Fields said as she shared that her husband is a pastor of a local country church and that her father was called to preach when she was in her teens.

“We all need to help each other.  We are blessed and we should be able to pass that on to the less fortunate people. That’s the way Jesus wants and that is what He went around doing. I’m not Him but if I can do just one little part, that gives me a blessing that I cannot tell you how it makes me feel,” Fields said.

As a child, Fields remembers her parents renting their home on Jared Drive.

“I’m a mortgage banker by trade. I work in a credit union right now, but banking and mortgage loans is my background.  I help first time homebuyers a lot. I work with people who are not always affluent people who need advice on how to get their credit up and how to qualify for a loan. I have my career but from that career I can help make the world better,” Fields, a lifetime Rotarian, said.

Early editions of The Salvation Army’s Sunbeam Handbook feature a smiling girl. Image from vintagekidstuff.com.

“I have not been called to be a missionary but that’s something on my mind. I’d love to be a missionary. I wasn’t called to do that with being a mother and a wife, a helpmate to my husband, and the ministry. I think a mission trip would be wonderful and the mission field is on my bucket list.  I don’t know if that will happen,” Fields said but is certainly something her heart is open to experiencing.

“You can do amazing things at a later date in life. I really believe that. I really believe that God can use a 67-year old woman the same as he can use a younger person. I know He will continue to use me throughout my life. He doesn’t put us on a shelf. He wants us to be able to uses the experiences we have and all the knowledge that we have in a way that we can share,” Fields said.

The Kingsport resident continues to live by the Sunbeams motto of “Do Right” and feels comforted by the messages she learned as a Sunbeam of God’s never-ending love.  Helping other young people to learn these messages is something she will never grow tired of doing.

“It is important to be in somebody’s life to try to make a difference if you can. I have a bible verse that is my life verse. It is Jeremiah 29:11.   I know the plans that God has for me are to give me good, not for evil, in my life. God has plans for us and they are for good, and to bring us where he wants us with hope and a future,” Fields said.

To learn more about the services offered at The Salvation Army at Kingsport, Tennessee, or to donate or volunteer, visit http://salvationarmytennessee.org/kingsport/.

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