Changes within the Salvation Army are seeing a shift of duties between its personnel in the area.
Lieutenants Rick and Sarah Apperson, recently arrived in Hazelton from several years in Terrace, will now be travelling to Smithers and Houston regularly while continuing to serve the Hazeltons with the Army’s family services function and food bank there.
And Kelly Spurway, based in Houston and who has been looking after the Army’s family services function in that community and in Smithers, will now have oversight of the thrift store in Houston and the daily activities of the Army’s Bulkley Valley Ministries.
The moves follow the departure in June to Ontario of Adam Marshall, who had been the Army’s community ministry director for the Bulkley Valley.
“We will spend time in both Smithers and Houston each week, but the days will vary, again depending on what is happening at each locale. Our goal is to have as much presence in the [Bulkley] Valley as possible,” said Lieutenant Rick Apperson of the duties now of himself and his wife, Lieutenant Sarah Apperson.
They’ll be meeting regularly with Spurway “and be present in community to add additional support and to offer a pastoral ear to those who access services and other community members as we can,” he said.
This will not be the Appersons first experience in the Bulkley Valley.
Smithers is Sarah Apperson’s hometown and the couple moved there in the early 2000s whereupon Rick Apperson ran the Army’s family services operation.
In 2009 he oversaw the Army’s Bulkley Valley ministry until 2016, at which point the couple decided to become pastors. Following two years of training, they moved to Terrace in 2018 before being posted to the Hazeltons late last summer.
The shift in duties comes as the Army has, as of the end of July, closed its Smithers thrift store following 20 years of being open.
Apperson said the store was not financially viable and its closure now means the Army will be able concentrate on its family and other services in Smithers.
As for the Army’s Houston thrift store, Apperson said there will be no changes.
“It will remain open and available to the community. We’ll be bringing in some racks [from Smithers] and there will be an increase in the amount of goods.”
Looking into the fall, Apperson said employees will undertake training to offer a program called Pathway to Hope which emphasizes specific assistance to indivdiuals.
“That’s going to really help us, to really focus on an individual, to explore exactly what they need, to try to get them back to feeling better about themselves,” said Apperson.
Key to this will be the Army working with other agencies to fully assist an individual, he added.