Heartfelt Words of Gratitude at Virtual EDS Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

Oct 6, 2020

The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) hosted their annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on October 1. Like everything in 2020, this annual gathering of EDS staff, city officials, and dedicated volunteers looked different this year. Because of COVID-19 safety concerns, the event was virtual this year. But also because of COVID-19, the messages of gratitude from officials in all facets of area government and civic leadership were especially heartfelt.

In a message recorded at the EDS warehouse in Elk Grove Village, where parts of the program were filmed, EDS director Major David Dalberg shared a question that had nagged him before coronavirus started. “One of my greatest concerns was if EDS faced a major response, especially a pandemic, would our volunteers respond. Could we count on them?” he said. “That question was answered in an overwhelming manner with a ‘Yes, we will respond.’” He shared that volunteers enabled EDS to provide 428,437 meals and 275,499 units of hydration to residents and first responders impacted by the coronavirus and other disasters this year. “We could not have done it without you.”

The immeasurable value of the EDS volunteers was a recurring theme throughout the program, which included nearly a dozen pre-recorded messages of thanks from officials throughout the division.

Kim Nowicki, of the Cook County Office of Emergency Management and Regional Security, mentioned the hydration and snacks EDS volunteers provide in times of crisis, as well as the 6,000 emergency meals they provided in Harvey after the derecho severely damaged the area. “Volunteers are the backbone of emergency management and I’d like to say thank you for all your efforts,” she said. 

Tamara Mahal, of the Chicago Department of Aviation, said, “What has impressed me is the dedication of The Salvation Army – both the leadership of Major Dalberg but also through the employees and volunteers that wake up at all hours of the night and day and come out to support the needs of others.” She shared about support EDS volunteers offer during emergency exercises and real-world crises at both of Chicago’s major airports. “The Salvation Army and its volunteers are a critical part of our emergency response network here at the airports and we are just so terribly grateful to be in a position to have that relationship and to be able to have people that we can rely on.”

Rich Guidice, Executive Director of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, mentioned the close partnership the OEMC had with EDS during the early days of the coronavirus response, when the Army was named the lead agency for the City of Chicago’s Feeding Task Force, ensuring residents in need don’t go without food. “Salvation Army volunteers are dedicated and committed to doing the most good whenever and wherever they are needed,” he said. “Thank you for changing lives, providing hope, uplifting individuals, and supporting Chicago communities each and every day.”

Lisa Morrison Butler, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Family and Support Services, shared that the Salvation Army helps her team meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness. “Our relationship with you is broad and deep and you are one of our most trusted and valued partners.”

Commissioner Richard Ford II, the Chicago Fire Department Commissioner, said that the EDS volunteers “always have our back.” He went on to say, “The Salvation Army volunteers have for sure been a great team member of the Chicago Fire Department, and for that we all give thanks.”

The program also included a video montage of volunteers in action at the EDS warehouse and food pantries throughout the division, a recorded message of gratitude from longtime friends of the Army Jeanne and Marc Malnati, and messages of thanks and benediction from the Metro Division’s new commanders, Lt. Colonels Lonneal and Patty Richardson. Lt. Colonel Lonneal closed the evening with his own words of gratitude. “You are the army behind The Salvation Army,” he said. He then added a thanks on behalf of the officers and soldiers (Army adherents), “You help us to be what God has called The Salvation Army to be, to carry out the mission to those who are the least of these in our community. For that, I say thank you.”

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For tax purposes: The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division EIN is 36-2167910.

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