As holidays begin, new Salvation Army regional coordinators focus on Columbia community

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:14 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Richard and Beth Trimmell, the new regional coordinators for the Salvation Army in the Columbia/Jefferson City area, are preparing for the holiday season with Thanksgiving baskets and bell-ringers.

COLUMBIA — Last week, Beth Trimmell went shopping for Thanksgiving.

When she returned to the Salvation Army office on West Ash Street, the back seats of her black Chevrolet Traverse LT were filled — with boxes of cake, stuffing and Jell-O mixes, bags of potatoes, apples, celery and rolls, bottles of vegetable oil, cans of icing and cartons of eggs. 

This wasn't everything — turkeys were already chilling inside.

Trimmell was filling baskets for families referred to the Salvation Army through a number of jobs programs. Volunteers would arrive later that day to assemble the food into individual Thanksgiving meals.

Trimmell estimated that up to 50 baskets would be distributed before Thursday.

"Everyone who was referred and applied will receive one," she said. "We hate turning people down, so we are pleased to be able to service everyone." 

Beth Trimmell and her husband, Richard, are the new regional coordinators for the Salvation Army in the Columbia/Jefferson City area. They arrived at the end of June to replace Kendall and Katrina Mathews.

The holiday season is a busy time for the Salvation Army, and the Trimmells are hitting the ground at full speed.

Last week, they were preparing the Angel Tree program, which matches children with gift donors during the holidays. They also were "getting all the ducks in a row" for a radio campaign in Jefferson City.

The Red Kettle Campaign started Friday as well. It is the main source of funding for the Salvation Army across the country. To bring national attention to the campaign, country singer Kenny Chesney will perform Thursday during halftime of the Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins Thanksgiving Day game.

In Columbia and Jefferson City, 40 clubs or service groups have signed up to ring bells at 22 stations, though more volunteers are needed and welcomed, the Trimmells say. The goal for this year is $352,710.

"We'll be busy like this through Christmas," Beth Trimmell said.

The new appointment brought challenges

The Trimmells say they were "delighted" to be appointed to the Columbia post.

"This community is very well provisioned in regards to social services," Beth Trimmell said. "There's a really excellent network and coordination of services with cooperation between the agencies. It isn't always like that." 

Wanting to strengthen the Salvation Army's role in the social services network, the Trimmells have reached out to a number of organizations, including the Voluntary Action Center, United Way, the Basic Needs Coalition and the city of Columbia.

Having the Salvation Army more involved with the local network of service organizations will help it better meet the needs of the community, the Trimmells say.

"We don't usually make a lot of changes early," Beth Trimmell said. "We try to follow the pattern that's been set for a while, so we don't alarm our staff and employees. And also so we don't make some big goof-ups."

Although still in the assessment stage, the new coordinators have addressed a few strategic needs.

The Parkade thrift store was "in serious need of cosmetic renovation," Beth Trimmell said.

The shop has been repainted, the layout changed and pricing made uniform in both Columbia stores, making shopping less confusing for customers, she said. In addition, Rob Wells now supervises both the Parkade and Walnut Street thrift stores.

The Trimmells said the Walnut Street store and a few of the other Salvation Army facilities need cosmetic work but not immediately.

Shopping on Wheels is a new program for home-bound residents. Volunteers take them clothing and small household goods that fit a description they have provided.

"The program is meant to reach out to the forgotten in our communities," Beth Trimmell said. "People who are shut-in often have just a handful of people who look out for them."

When the Salvation Army began in England in 1865, "the forgotten" tended be alcoholics. Today, her husband said, "the forgotten tend to be people who are physically and mentally challenged and sometimes the elderly."

The program is not income restricted, and those who use this program are not charged for the items.

The journey began 29 years ago

The Trimmells joined the Salvation Army to do compassionate ministry.

"The Salvation Army is often the last hope for people who have serious needs, and we catch the people who fall through the cracks," Beth Trimmell said. "That is what brought us into The Salvation Army."

After majoring in history and religion in college, Richard Trimmell worked in a bank, eventually becoming a bank officer. He later received a master's degree from seminary. His wife worked as an interior designer.

Richard Trimmell became a Nazarene pastor and volunteered one day a week at the Salvation Army. Every so often, he would tell his wife: "If it wasn't for that uniform, I'd be a Salvationist."

After hearing that for "quite a long time," Beth Trimmell asked her husband if he meant it. When he said yes, she sent him to talk to the organization. Soon afterward, they became Salvation Army officers and have spent almost 29 years in service.

In their previous appointments, they helped start two shelters, hot meal programs and a music program that provided children free instruments and lessons. 

"We really do love to reach out and help people who are in need," Beth Trimmell said.

In addition, they have raised four children. They adopted the first two as foster parents and later had two more.

Before Columbia, the Trimmells worked at the Salvation Army College for Officer Training in Chicago. Richard Trimmell was the assistant principal, and Beth Trimmell headed the family career center. Richard also taught Biblical literature and theology, while Beth taught moral and ethical issues, as well as quilting and gardening classes.

Future plans include transitional programs

In the future, they would like to start programs for those who are struggling but might not always qualify for programs offered by the Salvation Army. The Trimmells explained that even when people find jobs, it can be hard to make ends meet.

"People who are moving toward self-sufficiency often lose job benefits," Beth Trimmell said. 

The Trimmells say they want to provide incentives to work and achieve self-sufficiency in a program called Pathway of Hope.

"A lot of what we do in social services in general is Band-Aid work," Beth Trimmell said. "The underlying causes are not addressed, and they don't get to the place where they can be self-sufficient and move ahead."

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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