Service from the Heart – The EDS Volunteer Appreciation Dinner 2019
The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) hosted their annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on September 26. This annual gathering of EDS staff, city officials, and dedicated volunteers was highlighted by awards both from and for the EDS team, a remembrance of a longtime EDS staff member, and an explosives detecting demonstration by a TSA officer and his canine companion.
Held at the EDS headquarters in Elk Grove Village, the dinner drew more than 200 EDS friends and included Lou Malnati’s Pizza for dinner, provided by longtime Army supporters Jeanne and Marc Malnati. Following a welcome and invocation by the emcees, Captains Rich and Linnea Forney, corps officers in Aurora, attendees paused to remember Major William Heaver, who was the communications coordinator at the Metro Division’s EDS until he passed away on May 23 of this year. Major Heaver used his passion for the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) to keep our division connected to vital information during emergency situations.
Volunteer Linda Budner was named the EDS Volunteer of the Year by Donna Ceglarek, a past volunteer of the year herself. In her acceptance speech, Budner said it was an “honor and privilege to work with the people here” and spoke of how tired she often is at the end of a full day of volunteering. “I had no idea that being tired could feel so good,” she said.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Officer Paul Ciupeiu introduced those present to King, his canine partner who screens people and packages for explosives at Chicago airports. King proved his impressive skills by finding two different items planted in the crowd and nearby warehouse space. King wasn’t the only dog in attendance; three members of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, who often offer their services during disaster situations, charmed the crowd as well.
Alicia Tate-Nadeau, Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, spoke about the flood that spanned the entire length of the state, impacting 27 million people. “Volunteers for The Salvation Army have never stopped helping Illinois,” she said, expressing her thanks.
Executive Director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, Rich Guidice, called the partnership between The Salvation Army and his office vital. “Thank you for your compassionate support,” he said. “I commend you for a job well done.”
Timothy Sampey, Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department – Bureau of Operations, talked about how much he appreciates the warm coffee the Army provides when he’s on the job at 4 a.m. and it’s 20 degrees outside, or the cool drink when it’s 90 degrees and he’s in full gear. “I can’t tell you how appreciative we are. We love you guys to death,” he said. “You show up when we need you.”
Dereck Starks, Federal Security Director for the State of Illinois, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, talked about the meals the EDS team provided to TSA workers at both Chicago airports during the government shutdown earlier this year. He said he had no doubt that the TSA workers who had gone without pay for many weeks were still able to show up at work thanks in part to this assistance. “This help will never be forgotten,” he said.
Andrew Velasquez III, the Managing Deputy Commissioner – Chief Operations and Security Officer for the Chicago Department of Aviation, presented an Excellence in Emergency Preparedness Award to The Salvation Army for the EDS team’s assistance during the government shutdown, which included providing lunch, dinner, and snacks for all three TSA shifts at both O’Hare and Midway during the shutdown. He noted the Army’s selfless service. “You can always say about The Salvation Army that they never seek glory,” he said. “They are there to assist in the greatest time of need.”
Commissioner Sue Swanson brought Majors David and Debra Dalberg on stage to offer thanks and pray a blessing over this duo who leads the Metro Division’s EDS team. She closed the evening by speaking of the privilege of helping people in crisis. “God cares for people in crisis with our hands, heart, and time,” she said. “Thank you for making the darkest places touched by the heart of God.”
Join The Salvation Army's Fight for Good: