Salvation Army continues to thrive under new leadership

Salvation Army continues to thrive under new leadershipBy LAURA QUEZADA, News Review Staff Writer

“It’s all about the love of God, and the love of His people. We simply are heart to God, hand to man, we are here to give hope,” says Leiutenant Gina Noble, Corps Officer of the Ridgecrest Salvation Army. Noble and her husband, Leiutenant Chris Noble, arrived in Ridgecrest in the heat of July 1 and began exploring the community and its surroundings and fell in love with their new home.

Several years ago the Nobles left their corporate jobs, sold their big custom home, sold their fancy cars and began lives of service. Upon applying for and being chosen by the Salvation Army to become leaders and Pastor officers they underwent training and service between 2019 and 2021, “ And then, we are sent to this beautiful desert community, which we seriously are in love with,” says Noble. “Our role here is assessing the needs of the community. And what can the Salvation Army do through the love of God?”

Noble asserts, “We cannot do what we do without the support of the faithful, hard working volunteers who come here; our volunteer base has quadrupled in the last 90 days.” The Salvation Army is so much more than a thrift store. “First thing that we are doing is absolutely helping food insecurity in the Ridgecrest and beyond community. We want it known that we don’t just serve Ridgecrest residents.” They serve all of the surrounding communities. “Twice per week, Tuesdays and Fridays at 1230, we are giving very large food boxes in a drive thru format.

We recognize that when your belly is full, and you have things to eat, that you’re going to be more receptive in your soul in your heart, to receive the love of God, and restoration. We really are here just for for hope and goodness. We really do live it in every interaction. And if you drive through the food lines, you’ll see that it’s so much more than a trunk full of food. We spread joy. We give love and we’re having fun with it. Sundays at 1030, we gather for what we call a holiness meeting for 45 minutes to an hour. It’s all about worship, and the love of God and Bible teaching. And we do so because that all comes before the service aspect of what we do.”

Part of the worldwide mission of the Salvation Army is Adult Recovery Centers. Noble says, “The Adult Recovery Center is unique because it is six months of residential treatment at no cost at all. If someone comes to us wanting to be free from the throes of addiction, we make referrals to our center in Bakersfield. We know addiction isn’t just drugs and alcohol. There’s process addiction as well. Process addictions are eating, gambling, pornography, technology, workaholism.”

The Nobles are putting their organizational abilities to work by reorganizing the thrift store. They quit accepting donations on September 15 and plan to reopen today, October 15 at 10am. One can expect a refreshed look when they enter the store. “We are putting in new processes for donation receipt and recycling, as well as preparation for sale. We have a whole team that is in our thrift store. They are sorting, preparing for sale, and merchandising. We have another team that’s out in the storage yards, receiving and sorting donations as well. It is amazing what happens here with the volunteer support of the community. And it’s growing. And it’s a really exciting time, because people are just showing up to support those in need in their community by giving them their most precious resource, which is their time.”

The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in the East End of London and now serves over 100 countries in every corner of the world. In Ridgecrest it began in the 1980’s when Toni Boggs ran Ridgecrest Service Extension out of her home. It became an outpost in 1998 under the leadership of Ridgecrest residents Donna and Jerry Griffin. “We became a Salvation Army Corps Center for Worship & Service in 1999-2000 when we moved from little house on Norma St. to Church St. and then to the current site at 151 Downs St.” Noble credits the contributions of the Griffins, “This is their home, they saw the need. They saw what a great resource the Salvation Army can be. They are amazing people and we call them the First Family of the Army in Ridgecrest because, really, it was in their hearts to come together in the true gospel: love in action. It’s their legacy.”

There are several upcoming events: October 15, 10am, reopening of the Thrift Store. October 30th from 6-10pm A Tween/Teen Halloween - All kids aged 11-17 are welcome for food, fun, and festivities. Bell Ringers will be out in the community in the coming weeks – A holiday tradition that supports our service to the community. Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Baskets will be given away this holiday season. The intake of applications will start on October 20th and end on November 12, 2021.

For more information call 760-375-7219 Extension 109. Noble says, “Come help us help others.”

Laura Austin photo: Lt. Gina Noble in front of a mural painted by Ridgecrest resident Hector Villalobos completed in June 2021 as a gift to The Salvation Army

Story First Published: 2021-10-15