Being the Hands and Feet of Christ

Jun 20, 2023 | by Annie Beurman

Barbara Elliot has proven that helping others is in her blood. After retiring from her job as a Lieutenant Colonel Army Nurse at 40, she discovered a career in the legal field wasn’t for her. Her next step in life emerged when she and her late husband, Steve, took a trip to Greensburg, Kansas for his high school reunion— one week after the infamous Greensburg Tornado in 2007.

“We decided we’d volunteer… The Salvation Army put us on the canteen truck, and it was just a heartwarming experience delivering food to those people in need,” said Barbara. “We decided The Salvation Army was the place we wanted to work.”

After moving to Kansas City, the Elliots began their volunteering careers with The Salvation Army’s plentiful Thanksgiving and Christmas opportunities; for example, cooking and serving meals or Project Warmth distributions.

Though Steve passed away – or as we say in The Salvation Army, was promoted to glory— in 2017, Barbara continued to branch out, offering The Salvation Army her services in any area of need all year long, no matter the size of the task. Whether stuffing envelopes or running background checks, she has no favorite job, knowing all volunteer work is appreciated equally by the organization.

The Executive Director of Social Services, Jennifer Stepp, has worked with Barbara for over six years. Stepp has complete faith in Barbara, knowing as long as she’s around, no task is too big.

“She gives so much of herself, her time, her energy, and her resources to people she doesn’t know or may never meet,” said Stepp. “She has so much faith in the Army and what we do. She knows it will go to the right place.”

However, it was the pandemic that revealed where Barbara could have the biggest impact.

“When COVID hit, I knew I couldn’t sit in my house doing nothing,” said Barbara. “I looked for volunteer opportunities, and Honk N Holler was, at that time, desperate for people to make sandwiches.”

Currently, Barbara and fellow volunteer Dora Hicks make 220 sandwiches for Honk N Holler every Tuesday.

When Barbara was told she would be receiving The William Booth Award at the 2023 Civic Breakfast in June, she began to cry, feeling she didn’t deserve the honor.

“I received lots of awards when I was in the military, but I’ve never received anything like this,” said Barbara through her joyful tears. “I don’t volunteer for other people. I volunteer for myself and what I get out of it, and so it’s completely unexpected to be recognized in that way with such a high award.”

For Donor Relations Director Rick Marston, it was no surprise that the award went to Barbara this year.

“To me, she’s the hands and feet of Christ,” said Marston. “She believes so much in helping those that are in the most need— helping those that have hit the bottom— and giving back to them with her time and her treasure.”

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