Paradise Under Construction

The next chapter is unfolding for Camp Paradise Valley…with unchangeable commitment.  As part of the KT Gathering, the Divisional Leaders cast a vision for the new cabins and resulting camping experience — just part of the planned improvements coming for campers of all ages from The Salvation Army’s Kentucky & Tennessee Division.

Camp Paradise Valley has long been a place of retreat and renewal.   This Paradise is tucked into two of the valleys formed by the mountains holding in Dale Hollow Lake.  The Salvation Army purchased the camp from the Boy Scouts of America in 1963.  With both periodic, major improvements and consistent, gradual development, Camp Paradise Valley has continued to grow and change with time.

More than a decade ago, in one of the “major improvement” efforts, Camp Paradise saw its first batch of “new cabins,” replacing the oldest cabins in the greatest need.  Part of a capital campaign, the new American Camping Association (ACA) approved cabins made camp more accessible and enjoyable for participants.   Now, in another major improvement effort, the remainder of the cabins will be replaced before the summer camping season of 2019.

On a Sunday morning, Major Jim Arrowood, Divisional Commander, addressed attendees from every command across the Kentucky & Tennessee Division.  The backdrop for the unfolding vision was a banner depicting the new cabin style.  This banner also served as a symbol for the time; on one end it was tied to an old cabin, and on the other it was held up by a piece of equipment that on the next day would be used to start demolition.

“We have waited long enough,” Arrowood said to a standing crowd.  “Campers need accommodations that match the excellent programming here at Camp Paradise Valley.”  The new cabin design and other planned updates will make that a reality for new and returning campers alike.

“It’s a step in faith,” Arrowood said as he discussed the plans to begin demolition of all of the old cabins the following day.  “As faithful stewards of the public’s support, we knew we had to find the most economical way to make this dream into a reality.”  Working with local contractors and builders and doing all the cabins at once realized huge cost savings.   But that means tearing down all the remaining cabins, creating a risk of a housing shortage if there are any unforeseen complications in the construction schedule.

Michael and Joe Meyer, from Mercy Lane Construction participated in the ground breaking.  “It’s a tight schedule, but we know we have to get it done for the campers,” Michael said.  “This is a great project and will be a big improvement for campers across Kentucky and Tennessee.”

A sextet representing the KT Divisional Band offered a soundtrack to the festivities.  Colonels Ralph and Susan Bukiewicz were on camp as the Special Guests for the weekend and helped in the long-awaited ground breaking.  Captain Mark Love, Divisional Secretary for Business, led the service.  And, Captains Matt and Danielle Cunningham, Divisional Youth Secretaries, made sure it went off without a hitch…even jumping on a dozer.

Memphis Area Commanders, Captain’s Zach and Shelley Bell, joined in the ground breaking to  celebrate their community’s financial support in making the cabins possible.  Captain Bell approached long-time mission partner, FedEx, with a support proposal that included the funding for the new cabins.  Through the Bell’s hard work and FedEx’s loyal support, the dream of new cabins is becoming a reality.

The Camp Paradise Valley Facebook page will be keeping up with the construction process; providing regular updates.

Illuminated Cross at Camp Paradise Valley

Retired Officers in SAROA Donate Beacon of Hope for Campers, Visitors and Boaters

Members of the Kentucky-Tennessee Salvation Army Retired Officers Association (SAROA) funded a lighted cross at Camp Paradise Valley on the shore of Dale Hollow Lake.

Beautiful Dale Hollow Lake is situated on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. It is considered to be an excellent destination any time of the year.  In fact, it was voted the #4 lake in the nation to “Float Your Boat” by USA Today and was #1 in the “Top Ten Best Houseboating Lakes in North America” list by Pick A Slip. For fishing, six of the top 10 world record smallmouth bass have been caught in Dale Hollow Lake, according to Bassmaster.

Lt Colonels Charles and Shirley White, along with other members of Kentucky-Tennessee Salvation Army Retired Officers Association (SAROA) saw an opportunity for The Salvation Army’s Camp Paradise Valley and Conference Center because it, too, is located on the Kentucky-Tennessee border and Dale Hollow Lake.

The retired Salvation Army officers donated a lighted cross as a beacon of hope to all who see it.  Its prominent placement on the shore of Camp Paradise Valley is a 24/7/365 testimony to the thousands who enjoy Dale Hollow Lake.

“I had been on the dock several times and boats routinely come into the cove.  Boaters ride around and try to see what’s down there.  I had one boatload come up and say ‘Is this a boat club?’ and I said, ‘No, it serves children who come to camp.’ So I thought a cross would really be appropriate so that when folks ride up, they can see what the facility is,” Lt Colonel Charles White said.

The cross’s message is transcendental.

The lighted cross was also illuminated by the moon at the August 24, 2018 unveiling ceremony.

“Even though the project began before the territorial leaders came into office – Commissioner Willis Howell is now the Territorial Commander – we already had this mindset to do the cross but it’s been reinforced by the Commissioner’s messages to determine the “why” of the things we do.  Certainly we think that having the cross there for people using the camp and people seeing the camp that they will understand that this is the purpose –the “why” – that Camp Paradise Valley exists.  It is to guide people to their savior Jesus Christ that they might have a relationship with him,” White said.

On the Friday of Family Camp, August 24, 2018, SAROA had an unveiling of the cross ceremony at Camp Paradise Valley.  For Lt Colonels Charles and Shirley White, it was an emotional ceremony.

“All of our children and grandchildren went to Camp Paradise Valley. Both of us, when we went to camp, there was not a Salvation Army camp. We had to use a state park down outside of Nashville, Montgomery Bell State Park. So when we came back to serve in Nashville, we were delighted to see the Army had bought property on the beautiful Dale Hollow Lake.  We supported the camp then as Area Commanders. Then, when we came back to the Division as the Divisional  Commander and the General Secretary, we continued our support of funding and various things. But as the Divisional Commanders, we did a camp campaign and raised over $8 million dollars for improvements at Camp Paradise Valley that included the chapel, conservatory building, the hillside, the septic system and many other things. So we’ve had a big connection to the Camp through all these years,” White said.

The Whites each have 53 years of service with The Salvation Army. Although they retired from active service in 2011, they soon accepted appointments in Nashville as the Area Commander and Associate Area Commander for two years. The couple then served a six-month term in the North and South Carolina Division.

The cross is highly visible across Dale Hollow Lake.

“We formed the Kentucky-Tennessee SAROA. We were discussing what we could do for the Division as a project from the retired officers and it was unanimous that we should do something for Camp.  We voted to make it something really significant, not just buying a piece of equipment or something that might have a short life span but something that would really stand out and be something that would relate to people coming off of the camp property of what the camp really stood for and what its purpose is.  After some discussion, we all agreed we would like to do a lighted cross. We discussed it with the Divisional Commander.  He was in agreement and so we started taking pledges and donations from the retired officers when my wife, Shirley, was the president of the Kentucky-Tennessee SAROA. She finished her term last November and I was elected president,” White said.

“We’d collected about $3,500 from retired officers, pledges and payments. We then talked with Victor Rutledge, the Camp Caretaker, about it and rather than outsourcing it, he figured he could do it. So we worked with him and purchased the piece of equipment that he needed to weld the aluminum frame. Victor constructed the cross and erected it and we’ve worked with him to do that. We believe the finished product not only sends a message to people on the Camp property but to the hundreds or thousands that go up and down Dale Hollow Lake when they pass by our cove and see the lighted cross. We wanted to have something that would signify what the camp stands for and what its purpose is to serve as a reminder to folks who come on the camp property – the campers, the staff and the adults using it – but also to the general public who might be passing by wondering what this complex is,” White said.

Unveiling of the Cross Ceremony with:

Bottom row (from left to right):

  • Major Jim Arrowood, Divisional Commander
  • Colonel Ralph Bukiewicz, Chief Secretary
  • Lt. Colonel Charles White, Pastoral Care Officer

Top row (from left to right):

  • Major Linda Arrowood, Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries/Mission & Ministry Development
  • Colonel Susan Bukiewicz, Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries
  • Lt. Colonel Shirley White, Pastoral Care Officer

 

Lt Colonel Charles White is quick to make it understood that it was a group effort with one person playing a particularly large role.

“It was a group effort supported by everyone.  However, Victor Rutledge gets the most credit.  SAROA had an idea and he’s the one who made it a reality.  He is the Camp Caretaker and his wife, Stephanie, books the facility and oversees the housekeeping staff for the Camp throughout the year. He did an excellent job with it and, in fact, saved us a lot of money.  That was the first aluminum welding project that he ever did and he did an outstanding job,” White said.

Camp Paradise Valley is a special place for the White family but it is what the Camp does for the children of Kentucky and Tennessee that make it so meaningful to them.

“Many of the children come from inner cities – Louisville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville – and rarely, if ever, do they get to go out and see God’s handiwork, his creation, so we think that the Camp in that respect introduces or brings them to a closer relationship with their Creator.  And certainly, the cross now will be a symbol that will demonstrate to them that God not only created them but loves them and is providing a future for them that is found in Jesus Christ,” White said.

The affirmative experiences at Camp Paradise Valley have a great impact on the campers.

“Of course, their relationships with counselors, the officers, and the staff while they are at Camp are certainly a great positive. The children seldom get positive reinforcement or encouragement or good direction probably in their home life.  It just shows them again that someone loves them and they have value and that they are important in the kingdom of God,” White said.

For the Whites, their service to The Salvation Army has come full circle as they enjoy their retirement in Owensboro, Kentucky.

“We both grew up in The Salvation Army here in Owensboro. We started about the same time but it wasn’t until our mid-teenage years that both of us felt God’s direction and calling to full-time service. Shirley is a bit older than I am so she recognized the calling before I had and had already made a commitment to become a Salvation Army Officer. I was actually working ringing bells in December in Owensboro in the snow on Main Street when the Corps officer came and invited me to get a cup of hot chocolate.  So, I was pretty thrilled with that and went with him.  He introduced the idea to me and asked the question, ‘Have you ever thought of becoming a Salvation Army officer?’ It was from that seed that was planted that God used and spoke to me. Later that spring at a Salvation Army youth rally that’s when a call was given and I went forward and made that commitment to follow Him in full-time service as a Salvation Army officer,” White said.

With the lighted cross, Lt Colonel Charles White and the members of SAROA hope many new seeds will be planted in the minds of others as they boat on the beautiful Dale Hollow Lake or visit The Salvation Army’s Camp Paradise Valley and Conference Center.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating, go to http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/volunteer for additional information.

Fireworks added to the festivities at the unveiling ceremony.

The cross and full moon shine across the Dale Hollow Lake.

The moon was full for the unveiling ceremony.

Lt Colonel Charles White speaks to the attendees about SARAO’s efforts to fund and build the lighted cross at Camp Paradise Valley.

The cross was illuminated during the musical and speaking presentations.

A close-up of the illuminated cross constructed by Major Victor Rutledge.

Well-Being Opportunities Abound

 

The Franklin County Step Team performs at the Fair.

Community Focus at Frankfort Corp’s Health, Safety, Back to School Fair

A community is more than a group of people living in the same place.  It is a feeling of fellowship with others, through the sharing of common interests and goals.  In Frankfort, Kentucky, The Salvation Army helped citizens come together at their 517 Green Up Avenue location for four years in a row to promote health and safety.  This year, on August 10th, The Salvation Army added a “Back to School” element to create an event where youth could showcase their talents.

Although Majors Natalie and Curtis Sayre had only been at their new Frankfort, Kentucky appointment for six weeks, the decision to go full speed ahead into planning for the event, “PASSPORT Health, Safety & Back to School Fair” was an easy one.

“We’ve had such a warm welcome.  It’s a small town and everyone is so nice.  Of course having lived in mid-size or a large city, it’s quite a change.  No one honks at you at a red light.  You can relax a little bit and this event helped us get to know the community,” Major Natalie Sayre said.

“We had approximately 150 people attend – 225 with vendors and volunteers.  The event created an activity where families came and spent the evening and shared information.  It was also an opportunity for us, The Salvation Army, to meet the community, which was a huge bonus,” Sayre said.

The Salvation Army Volunteers and Youth enjoy spending time with Major Natalie Sayre.

During the free two-hour event, there were demonstrations, fun activities, food and drinks. Various agencies and businesses shared health plans, healthy nutritional lifestyle options, fire safety, traffic accident prevention, chiropractic care, fitness opportunities, and information about what The Salvation Army is all about.

Some people think of The Salvation Army as just the kettles at Christmas time and events like a community fair offer a unique opportunity to educate people about the many programs offered.

“People have a concept of what The Salvation Army is.  But so many times when they meet us face to face they realize we are so much more.  They might say ‘Well that’s just for people who need help or that is just for this or just for that’ but we are so much more than those one things people think we are.  So this event is an opportunity for the community to meet The Salvation Army.  That’s a huge bonus for us,” Sayre said.

Sometimes good ideas grow due to timing and enthusiasm.

“It started as a health and wellness fair then because of the time of year, we decided to combine it this year with back to school. Our social services coordinator, Misty Seitz, had more than 30 different groups come to do different things with gift cards, coupons, and free giveaways.  We had everything from a towing company having a wrecked car, to the police department talking about texting and driving and having safely tips,” Sayre said.

Brianna Green, a Kentucky State University Student and Volunteer, Misty Seitz, Social Service Worker for Frankfort Salvation Army, and Leesa Mitchell, Host Sponsor PASSPORT Health, enjoy preparations for the Fair.

Having a fire truck and an emergency medical services vehicle at the fair was especially exciting for the children in attendance.  They were allowed to sit inside the emergency vehicles and talk to members of the fire department about their jobs.

“It lets all of us know what is going on in our community in the sense that you get to something like this and you say ‘I didn’t know they were here or that they did that.’ You get to learn new things and meet new people or learn more about somebody you already know,” Sayre said.

Misty Seitz, Social Services coordinator for The Salvation Army Frankfort, was the organizer of the event.

“This event developed out of my testimony of seeking a healthier lifestyle.  I wanted to create an event that brings information on healthy choices to our community and to especially expose the lower income families and individuals to options they may not have considered,” Seitz said.

Demonstrations were given by the different vendors in attendance.

“PASSPORT Health Plan is the major sponsor and has been our sponsor each year. They gave us a $1000 donation.  Three insurance companies attended.  Also, a chiropractor had a machine that scans and shows folks the areas of concern in their body,” Sayre said.

PASSPORT is a non-profit, community-based healthcare provider. Their motto – “Our community is healthier when we work together!” – was a theme embraced by The Salvation Army event.

Members of the Frankfort Fire Department enjoy fellowship with the community during the Fair.

“The first 200 kids got some back to school supplies. CareSource provided $100 towards the purchase of school supplies.  Aspen Dental passed out toothbrushes and toothpaste.  The Frankfort Kiwanis bought all the food and made hamburgers and hot dogs to pass out to folks.  They were all beef and turkey in keeping with the health and wellness theme,” Sayre said.

Participants saw something interesting at the community fair that they had probably never seen before – a bubble bike.

“The bubble bike is a stationary bike that will blow bubbles out when the rider gets to a certain speed.   A group called Walk Bike Frankfort hosted the bubble bike.  This local group advocates for walkways and encourages walking, biking and hiking in our community,” Sayre said.

It is the simple things that sometimes deserve the most attention.

“Sometimes it is just letting you know about the group and they might share something that a family didn’t know about or the significance about what they are doing regarding health.  The information most of these groups shared was something new to a family.  So in that sense it lets all of us come together and realize that our different lives are not so different after all and we are all one,” Major Natalie Sayre said.

Coming to Frankfort is already seen as a blessing for the Sayre family.

“I look at Frankfort and I think of it as a small community.  It is so easy to be a part of and stay in our own area but when you come to something like this you realize how much you have in common.  How much you need each other and how much fun it is to be with each other at the same time. For us as The Salvation Army, we are your Salvation Army and we are right there for you,” Major Natalie Sayre said.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating, go to http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/volunteer for additional information.