Committee members assembled to raise money to offset thousands of dollars in Salvation Army debt, and save its West Salisbury youth center, are planning a fundraiser to bolster youngsters’ programs, but won’t help with the overall debt until they receive more information.
A few weeks ago, state Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes said she was surprised when Major Gene Hogg of the Salvation Army said the organization has had financial problems for years, but the youth center was never in jeopardy of closing.
Sample-Hughes, who spearheaded a community meeting and formed Hazel’s Haven Committee to help, postponed the next committee meeting and called for detailed financial disclosure before proceeding.
Meantime, a sub-committee is planning a fundraiser at the county fair, with proceeds earmarked for the youth center. Dinners of a half chicken, chips and drink will be sold for $10 all three days of the fair, Aug. 19-21 at Winterplace Park.
On July 25, Sample-Hughes e-mailed committee members thanking them for attending the July 12 meeting and saying remarks from Hogg, who’s in the Baltimore office of the Salvation Army, “was the extreme opposite of what was anticipated.”
“Major Hogg began the meeting remarking that the Salvation Army has gone through the same issue with the West Salisbury community 15 years ago and that the current situation is no different. He also stated that the Richard Hazel Center was never planned to close and that the community was misinformed.
“To that end, the County Executive and I requested that Major Hogg provide a letter outlining his exact statement of programs continuing and that there would not be any closure of the Richard Hazel Youth Center Building at the end of summer as what has been told on numerous occasions by the leadership in Salisbury,” Sample-Hughes wrote in the e-mail.
Hogg issued a news release July 26, stating the Salvation Army has no plans to close the youth center and saying the center has served 330 youth aged 3 to 15. The Salvation Army has met the needs of thousands of youth during the past 15 years, but is currently underfunded, he wrote, adding donations are welcome.
Sample-Hughes told the Salisbury Independent committee members are still concerned about the Salvation Army’s finances, but that she hasn’t received the letter she requested from Hogg. She did receive the news release, forwarded to her by the program director at the youth center.
“What we are lacking still is a formal statement from the Salvation Army so we can truly know what the gap in funding is. I didn’t want to reconvene 25 people (on the committee) not having specific information,” the delegate said.
Reach Susan Canfora at firstname.lastname@example.org.