MOUNT VERNON — It was a bittersweet evening for many at The Salvation Army’s volunteer and community awards dinner at The Glenn A. Gallagher Centre on Tuesday evening. The Salvation Army was celebrating 125 years of serving Mount Vernon and Knox County. As the theme for the evening was “Be a Shield,” a short video was played, calling people to “be a shield against hunger, against poverty and against homelessness.”
Major Robert Bender welcomed those in attendance. “We couldn’t do what we do without the good people helping us,” he said. “I want you all to know how much I appreciate this community and how much I appreciate the people who help The Salvation Army. It means a lot to us.”
Prior to the dinner, musical selections were played by The Salvation Army Band. Entertainment was also provided by The Salvation Army Junior Band and Dance Troop.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis gave a brief history of The Salvation Army in Mount Vernon and read a proclamation declaring May 10, 2012, as Salvation Army Day in Mount Vernon.
Following dinner, special awards for the year were announced. These awards went to the following: Service Club Award, Kiwanis Club; Kettle Award, Kevin Mishey, Jerry Scott and Ed Smith; Others Award, Marsha and Dean Rinehart; Volunteer of the Year, Karen Evener; and Media Award, WNZR and I-Conn Video Productions. “Without these folks, we couldn’t do any of this,” said Bender.
Bender reported that the five SA kettles at Christmas raised more than $74,000 in 2011. Kettles at Kroger brought in $25,000, with Ed Smith’s kettle alone delivering $16,000.
Board member Jerry Scott then announced that Major Bender will be leaving Mount Vernon at the end of the month to accept a position as major in Painesville.
“In July 2002, this community was blessed to have Robert and Karen Bender arrive in Mount Vernon as our officers. They’ve been here for 10 years; and regretfully, they will be leaving us,” said Scott. After noting the accomplishments Bender has achieved while here at Mount Vernon, Scott called the board members forward to present him with some gifts. Board president John Booth presented Bender with a plaque and framed picture. Various momentos were also presented to Bender as reminders of the community. Another gift was a calligraphy wall hanging which read “Solo Deo Gloria,” which translates to “To God Be the Glory.”
“Robert, this has been a blessing, and we just hope that the Lord heaps a great big blessing upon you,” said Scott.