Called to Serve
"I didn't do this, God did. He provided the path, and all I did was follow,” shared Jo Ellen, a volunteer for The Salvation Army of Putnam County. This past year, she began serving as a member of The Salvation Army Putnam County Council and as a bell ringer for the iconic Red Kettle Christmas campaign. However, Jo Ellen’s journey to The Salvation Army is unlike any other.
Jo Ellen’s journey began with her son, AJ, who had battled addiction for many years. He had tried many rehabilitation programs, but they only seemed to help for a short time after the initial treatment. That was until AJ found The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Indianapolis. “He was so happy there because everyone was so good to him,” Jo Ellen recalled. “When he arrived, he received a work therapy assignment, which gave him a sense of purpose.”
As AJ worked through the six-month program, his family could see the improvements he was making. However, before AJ could finish his program, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the nation. Residents at the ARC began leaving because they were ill or scared of becoming ill. “Lockdown was so hard on him,” explained Jo Ellen. “He left the facility, moved in with his sister and brother-in-law, and started working.” Before long, the anxiety caused by the pandemic and the stresses of everyday life caught up to him. “I lost my son to addiction,” said Jo Ellen. “His death impacted our whole family, and I just kept feeling like there was something else, something more that I could do.” That is when Jo Ellen saw an article in the newspaper promoting the revitalization of The Salvation Army Putnam County Council. She picked up the phone immediately to see how she could play a part.
“Everything was in the right place,” she added. “God moved me to call, and I have no regrets. The Salvation Army is such a good organization.” Today, Jo Ellen is proud to be involved in the work of The Salvation Army throughout Putnam County. She says the countless hours of service she has put in are part of what God called her to do. “I just feel like I should be doing this,” she explained. “I do it all to honor my son, and to honor The Salvation Army who helped him so much.”
The good work of The Salvation Army continues to echo throughout Jo Ellen's life. While bell ringing this past Christmas season, she heard countless stories of how The Salvation Army helped families when they were experiencing dark times. “I talked to a guy coming out of Kroger when I was bell ringing,” she shared. “He said, ‘When I came back from Vietnam, the only assistance I received was from The Salvation Army.’ And of course, I believe him.”
Looking forward, Jo Ellen is excited to grow the council as well as The Salvation Army’s ministries in the area. “I love the idea of helping the people of Putnam County, because, for whatever reason, they just need someone to give them a hand,” she said. Thank you for making the ministries of The Salvation Army possible. With every gift, you are building a stronger foundation for your local community.