Merediths return to serve Western Tidewater
Published 6:30 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2023
By James W. Robinson
Familiar faces made their return to Suffolk recently as part of the Salvation Army’s three-year captaincy rotation.
Capts. Kelsey and Johnathan Meredith now serve as the officers for Suffolk, which includes the city of Franklin and Isle of Wight, Southampton and Surry counties. They follow Lt. Shawn and Capt. Angel Simmons who are moving to Maryland as they ended their three years of service to the local communities.
This is the second installment for the Merediths at the Salvation Army in Suffolk. Capt. Johnathan Meredith talked about how he and Kelsey soldiered and attended church a decade ago in Suffolk.
“We were soldiers here 10 years ago and so we got to know some of the people,” Johnathan said. “We got to see the community and we really loved being here. We were really stunned when we found out that we were coming back here.”
Capt. Kelsey Meredith followed up by noting how welcoming and giving everyone is as they stepped into the doors of the Salvation Army of Suffolk.
“There are so many people that are connected with the Salvation Army that just give, and give from their heart,” Kelsey said. “They love serving this community and there’s so much need in this community.”
On the staff welcoming them to the city and their new roles, Kelsey praised them, saying they are “amazing” and have a heart for service.
Johnathan Meredith pointed to the warmth that their staff has brought to them.
“Even though we’ve only been here four days now, anybody who spends any amount of time with our staff can see it,” he said.
Prior to their move to Virginia, the couple hailed from two other states in the south — Johnathan is a South Carolina native, while Kelsey is a Texas native. Johnathan met Kelsey in Texas during their teenage years.
Kelsey reflected on how the Salvation Army played a part in their connection.
“We were both training to be lifeguards and from there, my family was actually looking for a new church. He was in the same training that I was in and so he invited me and my family to church, and that’s actually how we got connected with the Salvation Army from a church standpoint,” Kelsey said. “Then we got connected with the Salvation Army in all the other ways through Christmas and Kettle Time and Angel Tree. But it really just started with him inviting me and my family, and that’s how we really got connected and how we met and then later got married and had children.”
Among the many services they provide for needy residents is a food pantry that serves alongside a clothing pantry. A mobile food pantry meets the last Monday of every month, with the soup kitchen serving twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Electric services and spiritual counseling are also available with Sunday school at 10 a.m. and Sunday service at 11 a.m. Baby supplies are also provided to parents in need.
“Just about every program that we have we serve a meal, because we know that food is essential and there’s such a great need for that,” Kelsey said. “So we have Bible study during the week, men’s and women’s ministries, youth programs, and with everything there’s food provided.”
The Merediths added that they are looking to expand their services.
“I would love to see us offer bus pass assistance, rental assistance and all of those things that our community needs,” Kelsey said. “There’s such great need out there and I would love to see us be able to provide that in the future.”
Kelsey offered a message to the community on opportunities for rentals for the facility, with the gym space, boardroom and classroom spaces available for rent. She also hopes to provide more classes available for the community.
“We’re also looking to offer classes for our community, for seniors and youth. If there’s anyone interested in offering a health and wellness class or fitness classes, they can contact us by calling our office,” Kelsey said. “We, in the future, are also looking to open an afternoon school program/club for kids in our community and we want to also offer sports leagues the opportunity to rent out our facility so that we can have those going on too.”
Kelsey added that to continue to provide these services, they are asking the community to donate $1.10 a day or $110 a month to the Salvation Army of Suffolk.
“This year is our 110th year. We just challenge everyone in our community to help support the need that is growing tremendously — the assistance for food need is growing day by day and we know that there’s a need for a safe place for our kids in our community,” she said. “For us to be able to offer that, grow and expand, we need our community now more than ever. In the summer months, it is hard, it is a tough time for us financially and we need all the support we can get.”
For more information, call (757) 539-5201 or go to suffolk.salvationarmypotomac.org/suffolk.