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Bouyed by faith, Chamberlains hope to expand services at Salvation Army

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 7/13/22

MIDDLEBURG – Mike Chamberlain remembered being a child and spending six weeks in a campground. To him in was an adventure. In reality, his family was homeless.

“I just enjoy the campground,” …

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Bouyed by faith, Chamberlains hope to expand services at Salvation Army


Posted

MIDDLEBURG – Mike Chamberlain remembered being a child and spending six weeks in a campground. To him in was an adventure. In reality, his family was homeless.

“I just enjoy the campground,” he said. “It wasn’t until later on in life, my mom told me, ‘Well, we were sort of in a pinch.’”

Julie Chamberlain remembered being part of the Angel Tree program and getting a coloring book and crayons for Christmas.

“When you’re not expecting anything it’s a lot,” she said. “That’s why the Angel Tree program means so much to me because I know that it makes a big difference.”

Both said the Salvation Army played a significant role during their youth. Now married, the couple now are the Corps Officers for the Salvation Army of Clay County.

The Chamberlains took over for Majs. Phil and Lynn Irish a month ago. They were transferrted to Ocala where they will continue the Salvation Army’s work. Mike and Julie said they hope to build on the Irish’s success.

“They’ve given us a lot of good advice,” Mike said. “We’ve been trying to learn as well since we’ve been here. We’ve attended meetings at the Jacksonville area command, which are their needs in Jacksonville is a little bit different than Clay County. We understand. But we also have to talk to our employees and I’m looking forward to getting to know some of the the leaders in the community – the county commissioners and maybe my some others to see what what the greater needs are, how we can best serve the community.”

The Chamberlains said they want to expand youth programs.

“I’m excited to see what’s been going on here,” Mike said. “I’m excited to see that there’s already a school of music that helps with, you know, giving kids something to do in the community. I’m glad to see that there’s already a school backpack drive that goes on here, we’re making sure those things run smoothly.

“We’re going to expand our youth program. Kim Lewis, she does an extraordinary job and with our character building programs, so we’re looking to expand that and get more kids involved.”

“I understand there’s a teen leadership program, and I love to see the teenagers just developing their leadership skills,” Julie said. “You know, a lot of times when you move in from that middle school age into the high school age, there’s a lot of them who are just in a bubble, kind of sheltered. It’s great to see them blossom and flourish.”

The first big event for the Chamberlains is Backpack Outreach on July 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the county headquarters at 2795 County Road 220 in Middleburg. The Salvation Army has been collecting back to school supplies for needy children for months. In addition to providing supplies to hundreds of children, the Army also will provide haircuts, free sports physicals and counseling. Last year’s event provided help to 862 students who were experiencing homelessness. A year later, 622 are still without permanent housing.

Any parent who needs to get a physical for their child should make an appointment by calling (904) 276-6677.

The Chamberlains said assignments generally are temporary.

“The Salvation Army has a process that they use and it all of it is bathed in prayer,” Mike said. “And it has a way of transferring people to where the needs are. Hopefully a set of new officers can bring their skill set that is appropriate for the needs of the county.

“They try to consider the needs of the families, so I think generally it’s a three to five year process, a three to five year expectation. That’s not a guarantee. Tt’s never guaranteed either way.”

The Chamberlains’ last assignment was in the Tampa area.

The couple also hope to rebuild attendance the weekly services that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Services are every Sunday at 11 a.m.