By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — As officers of the Salvation Army, Majors Allen and Karen Hanton served seven different appointments during their 19 years of service.
Their appointments have been in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and 18 months in Goshen, so far.
“An officer stays the average of three to five years and the last three (appointments) have been five years for us,” Karen said.
Since they are both majors, the couple share duties because the Salvation Army is set up as a dual agency, a non-profit organization and a full-service pastoral church.
“We are the executive directors of the non-profit and we both are ordained pastors and serve with the church and youth,” Allen said.
During the week, their days are spent with fundraising, budgets, public relations, human resources with their staff and community liaisons to name a few of their duties, he added.
“Not one day is ever the same,” Karen said, smiling. “It’s not monotonous.”
One day the couple could be dealing with personnel issues and making sure programs are being run as expected.
“And the next day, we could be doing a funeral,” Allen said.
The couple work together to make sure one of them is available during business hours between 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“We have some evening hours and church activities and we are on call 24 hours a day,” Karen said. “The building is heavily used and we want to be here to support our staff.”
The Salvation Army has been in Goshen since 1889 providing support to the community.
“And we want to continue to provide hope and practical assistance — to give a hand-up and not a hand-out,” Allen said. “We want to give a needed boost so they can be better citizens of the community.”
They enjoy helping with Pancake Day, a local fundraiser that’s been ongoing for 49 years in Goshen to raise support for the local Salvation Army.
“It’s community-supported and it’s a community event. There are a lot of corporate sponsors,” Allen said. “It’s a neat partnership with the businesses and they provide financial support for us.”
The couple has started a partnership with the Council on Aging of Elkhart County with a life enrichment program two days a week.
“They use our facility and we provide meals and if a senior citizen needs help with assistance, they are already here (for the program,)” Karen said. “It works out well and as it develops, we hope to have it five days a week.”
Allen also added that they have a partnership with Real Services through the Emergency Assistance Program (EPA).
“People can come in and see if they qualify for assistance and we can help them if the EAP cannot help them,” he said.
The couple firmly believes in collaboration between agencies and trying to make things better for everyone in the community.
“As we do collaboration, people are introduced to what the Salvation Army does and what they do to live through their missions,” Allen said.
One of the most familiar fundraisers for the Salvation Army is the red kettles program during the holidays and Allen said the community of Goshen raised $75,000.
“Goshen is very supportive of the Salvation Army here and it’s good to have the support,” he added.
Karen is a large supporter of the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services program and teaches disaster classes, as well as being deployed where emergencies and disasters happen, she said.
“I served in New York at Ground Zero and in Galveston when Ivan hit,” Karen said. “I have been where lots of tornadoes, hurricanes and floods have hit. I really like to teach the disaster classes. My passion is debriefing and keeping people healthy. I love to be deployed but it’s hard these days when the kids have so much going on.”
The couple keeps busy with their two children who participate in different sports. The family spends time together by going to movies and playing games like Apples to Apples, Skip-Bo and Uno.
“We like to go to sporting events, go swimming and we like to kayak,” Karen said. “I like to bike a lot and the kids are avid readers.”