At the Salvos, Bill has found a way to use his skills and talents to help make life better for those in need.
The Salvos in Emerald (Qld) have had a presence for a long time and they are respected. For many years I used to regularly run into a particular Salvos man around town. He’s retired now but he had a certain manner that was really sincere and genuine in sharing God’s word.
I’d also heard stories about the grassroots work of the Salvos, and I knew the stories of World War II, where members of The Salvation Army were dispatched to theatres of war—sometimes ending up behind the front lines, preparing refreshments for the troops—and were often in the line of fire. So there was a theme in all I knew of The Salvation Army, one of a genuine commitment to caring for other people.
I grew up as a farm boy and my parents began as share-farmers. My dad came to the Emerald area in 1948 as an itinerant worker. It was pretty barren. We lived in a tent for maybe a couple of years, with only a generator for power, while my dad constructed a basic house on the property. My family went on to become successful farmers.
There was a Methodist church run by volunteers some distance away, which used to meet every second Sunday. On special occasions like Christmas and Easter and some Sundays, we’d travel over in whichever car was going. In later years I was involved in churches and Christian groups.
Much of my adult life was occupied with farming, contracting and travelling. In 2006 my share of the farm was finally sold and together with my parents we moved into town. I pursued other interests but I would see the Salvos Store and think, “One day I’d like to become a volunteer”.
In 2012 I finished travelling for work and spent more and more time at home, dealing with health issues and trying a few business ideas, but finding no steady employment in our rural area. I do some gardening and am hoping to go back into farm contracting, but in April or May last year, I finally also looked into becoming a volunteer with the Salvos. I have to admit at that stage I was starting to struggle with the feeling of depression.
I now enjoy gardening and eradicating weeds around our Salvos centre and doing practical things. I am the driver of the van and check the donation bins and get what has been donated to the appropriate locations, whether into town or the gemfields. I help service the van, check the tyres and also with packing and sorting clothes, furniture pickup and removal.
I’ve always worked on farms or with machinery, transport and logistics so I feel it is a real chance to still use some of my skills. I find God always supplies my needs even through tough times. I really feel like a very blessed man.
My wife and I now also enjoy fellowship and praise and worship with the Salvos. It’s uplifting and encouraging. It’s a joy to go along. Plus, I have always been a fan of a good morning tea!
When I’m out and about and people see the (Salvos) van they often want to come up and talk and I try to encourage them. They have a lot of respect for The Salvation Army badge on the vehicle.
You get the sense there are a lot of people really up against the wall and they don’t know where their next meal is coming from or they’re facing other serious issues.
Helping at the Salvos has given me a lot of joy. But most importantly it has given me the opportunity to help others in some small way, and that’s a great privilege.