Bartlett urges residents to speak out to help save Grafton Salvation Army

GRAFTON—After serving the community for nearly 100 years, one local charitable organization has learned that they will soon be shutting their doors.

The Grafton Salvation Army has been a helping hand in not only the Taylor County community, but those in Barbour and Randolph Counties as well. Now, after 97 years of service, the organization will be dissolved.

Recently, the Salvation Army’s board learned that changes were coming down from the Salvation Army Higher Headquarters, according to board member G. Thomas Bartlett.

“In the last couple of monthly meetings with the Salvation Army here in Grafton, our board members were advised by the local officers, Captains Gary and Denise Stewart, that the higher ups were making changes,” he explained. “Division Headquarters revealed that they were underway with the dissolution of the Grafton Salvation Army.”

Upset at the news, Bartlett questioned the divisional personnel via phone at their March meeting.

“I asked two simple questions of them,” he disclosed. “I asked for them to tell me what we hadn’t done that we should have and what we had done that maybe we shouldn’t.”

Bartlett said that he felt like the board should have been given a chance to fix an issue before the decision came to close up shop, but unfortunately, his questions went unanswered.

As a way to keep local leaders informed of the situation, he attended recent Grafton City Council and Taylor County Commission meetings and awaited the next board meeting.

That meeting was held on Thursday, April 21, and this time, Albert DeCesaris, Divisional Resource Development Director, Potomac Division of the Salvation Army, was present in person.

Hoping to receive some kind of indication as to what the issues were that were causing the dissolution of local unit, Bartlett once again asked his questions.

“I implored them to not condemn us to failure but to give us an opportunity to recover,” Bartlett voiced. “But again, my questions were ignored, as Mr. DeCesaris would only discuss the steps they would take in the process of dissolving the Grafton Salvation Army.”

He said that during the meeting, DeCesaris told the attendees that services would continue for residents, and that a representative from a neighboring Salvation Army unit would come to Grafton at least once a week to assist residents.

“However, I am unaware of the location for those meetings, because it is their intent to sell the building that currently houses the organization,” Bartlett noted. “At this point, we aren’t exactly sure of the closure date of this unit.”

Since March 4, 1923, the Salvation Army has been serving residents of Taylor County through various programs.

Whether it be through toy, food, clothing and school supplies drives, their annual Angel Tree, their food pantry, their holiday feeding programs or their utility assistance programs, the Grafton Salvation Army has helped residents through some of the harder times they have faced. Now that assistance is at risk of going away, according to Bartlett.

“I encourage the residents of Taylor, Barbour and Randolph Counties to speak out about this decision to close our local Salvation Army,” Bartlett expressed. “Call, write or email your concerns to Division Headquarters, and let them know we need our unit!”

He said that phone calls could be made to DeCesaris at 202-904-5118, emails could be sent to [email protected] and letters could be penned or typed and mailed to Albert DeCesaris, Potomac Divisional Headquarters 2626 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20037.

“I am hoping that we can turn them around, because they are not giving us a chance to rectify whatever they perceive as the problem,” Bartlett said. “Whatever issue the Grafton Salvation Army has caused that we won’t have the opportunity to help fix if they don’t.”


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