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Salvation Army has new administrators

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Sgt. Joseph Rodgers and Sgt. Patti Rodgers came to the area six months ago for their first assignment with the Salvation Army. The couple, married 31 years, are the administrators of The Salvation Army of Cleveland and Rutherford Counties.

In their duties they oversee all operations from the most recent Christmas Cheer Center/Angel Tree drive, the Red Kettle collections, to helping prepare the thrift stores for the after-holiday sales and helping with human services programs.

Though new to the area, the couple lives in Shelby, Sgt. Joe has been connected with the Salvation Army since he was a young boy.

When he was 10, he attended the Salvation Army in his hometown of Sumter, South Carolina and the following summer went to the Salvation Army's Camp Walter Johnson in Denton. He later worked at the camp during the summer of 1988.

The couple met through a mutual friend in Sumter in June of 1991 and the rest is history.

They fell in love, had four children and have 10 grandchildren.

The couple talked about the Salvation Army's work recently as the after-Christmas sale was ongoing at the Forest City thrift store location.

Sgt. Joe said prior to his employment with Salvation Army he worked in pest control, in hospital security at Prisma Health Oconee in Oconee County and in October of 2021, he became the Corps Mission Associate for the Anderson, South Carolina Corps of The Salvation Army.

While the couple was in Oconee County, Sgt. Patti worked for seven years at Prisma in housekeeping and later worked as a house monitor at a Salvation Army shelter in Anderson.

Their June 2023 appointment to Rutherford and Cleveland county's Salvation Army programs is their first appointment for the Salvation Army as Corp. Administrators.

In their new roles Sgt. Joe is the Corps Administrator and Sgt. Patti is the Assistant Administrator.

"But if I am not here, she can do all of this," Sgt. Joe said.

"The Salvation Army is my church and I have been a soldier member for 37 years," Sgt. Joe said. He also said the Salvation Army must meet the spiritual needs of people as well as the human needs.

"If you're shivering you need a blanket and if you're hungry you need food," he said. But the spiritual needs are of utmost importance, and should be met, he said.

"My desire is to improve the spiritual, the physical needs and hopefully improve the emotional and mental needs as well," Sgt. Joe said.

Sgt. Patti says among the greatest needs in Rutherford County is to help people with utility payments, rental assistance and to receive food. The Salvation Army works to meet all these needs and there is a social worker on staff to address these issues daily.

The Cleveland County unit has a Salvation Army Church where Sgt. Joe preaches each Sunday at 11 a.m. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. The church is located at 305 North Layafette Street in Shelby. He also said the Shelby facility is in need of renovation.

Sgt. Joe hopes one day to begin a Salvation Army church in Rutherford County, perhaps having worship services on Sunday afternoon.

While in Anderson, the couple said they began to pray for direction as to where God wanted them to go. The couple was approached in June 2022 about the possibility of coming to the area as the retirements of Sgt. Les and Sgt. Mary Ashby were imminent.

The couple was asked to come to Charlotte on April 13 for what they thought was an interview. Instead it was to offer them the jobs for Rutherford and Cleveland Salvation Army positions.

"They offered us the commander's job right then," Sgt. Joe said.

"We've had thrift store experiences and the church experiences, but have never been in charge of a unit," said Sgt. Joe.

Six months on the job, the couple feels good about their work, but admit they have a lot to learn.

Coming off the Christmas season, Sgt. Joe said there are definitely things they will do different next year.

"We learned how we shouldn't have done some things," Sgt. Joe said. "We learned."

In Rutherford County, the Christmas Cheer Center went well with the group of already organized volunteers.

The Red Kettle drive was not quite as successful, but they will work toward better ways to raise the donations for the Kettles next year that help with the social services needs of the clients as well as Christmas gifts.

In 2024, Sgt. Joe hopes to have a five-member advisory council who is willing to serve with the Salvation Army to keep things moving forward.

The couple came to the area from Anderson.

"I love music and the outdoors and I like the slower pace of small towns," Sgt. Joe said.

"We could not have picked a better place," he said.

Sgt. Patti said she and her husband enjoy spending time with family. She enjoys crafts and he enjoys small trains.

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