Thursday, 21 May 2015 09:04

Salvation Army officers transferred from Swift Current after six years in community

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The Salvation Army in Swift Current will say farewell to two experienced officers in June when Captains Michael and Susan Ramsay leave for their new assignment in Toronto.

They have been transferred to Corps 614 Regent Park in downtown Toronto, where they will assume their new duties on June 26.
Their final day in Swift Current will be June 21. Captain Michael Ramsay said it will not be easy for the family to leave the community they called home for six years.
“That’s the hard part,” he mentioned. “You’re obviously looking forward to what’s ahead and it’s really an honour to be chosen to head to Toronto … but Swift Current is our home. I just love this whole community so much.”
The Ramsays transferred to Swift Current from Nipawin in June 2009, where they served for two years.In their previous ministries they worked for two years in Winnipeg and two years at the Salvation Army’s 614 Corps on Vancouver’s downtown eastside.
Their six years in Swift Current have been a significant time for the family. Their youngest daughter was born here and their two older daughters recently turned 13 and 14.
“That’s all they really remember, all their friends and everything here,” he said. “We’ve partnered so well with this community of Swift Current. There’s so many friends that we’ve worked together with to accomplish so much.”
The two older children had some questions about the move and he made a promise to them.
“I told my daughters that when Saskatchewan comes to play the Argonauts in Toronto, we’ll go to the game in green,” he said. “We’ll bring a sign saying hi to Swift Current.”
One of the lasting memories from the family’s time in Swift Current will be the welcome they received in the community.
“Sometimes when people are transferred from community to community, they always feel like an outsider,” he said. “I don’t think we ever felt like that. We felt that Swift Current welcomed us with open arms from day one. We’ve been really welcomed in the community and really been able to do so much alongside everybody else in the community.”
There are many highlights from their time in the city, including the opportunity to do chaplaincy work in association with different organizations.
“In conjunction with the health region and on behalf of the ministerial, we’ve been able to set up the hospital chaplaincy program,” he said. “We’ve been able to set up the whole court worker program in Swift Current. We’ve been able to set up the transition work for people who are returning to the community.”
He referred to the annual Christmas campaign in Swift Current that has been such a success as a result of the support from the community.
“Last year I think our numbers were $210,000 raised in a community of 17,000,” he said. “Per capital I believe that’s absolutely the highest amount raised to help the least fortunate in the whole country. So that’s an absolute highlight of ours because it really speaks to the generosity of this community and its willingness to help out people in need.”
The Salvation Army provides support to families in need through partnerships such as community kitchens and community gardens and also through its own services, for example the food bank, thrift store, church functions, youth programs and other support groups.
“We’ve seen so many lives transformed in our time here,” he said. “People who have come through times of crisis who are now in a position where they’re able to give back, not only financially, but also with their time.”
Volunteers from Swift Current provided assistance during natural disasters in other communities, including flood events in Maple Creek, Melville and High River, Alberta. A community response vehicle is now stationed in Swift Current, from where this mobile canteen and kitchen unit will be deployed to disaster areas in the province or elsewhere.
“So Swift Current has actually become a hub for emergency disaster services for the whole southwest here for co-ordinating teams,” he said. “We’ve done training sessions in Swift Current here to get volunteers ready to serve for floods and fires and whatever else comes up. … We’ve been able to train people to provide emotional and spiritual care as they’re going through that moment of crisis as well as prepare them to provide food for people in crisis.”
Their transfer did not come as a complete surprise because Salvation Army officers may receive a telephone call towards the end of April every year to inform them about a new posting.
“They try and take as many things into consideration as possible,” he said. “So the fact that my oldest daughter is going into high school next year and my youngest daughter is going into kindergarten were two things I thought if they’re going to move us this is probably a time when they would do it because they try and take family considerations into account when they’re doing it.”
The Ramsays have previous experience of serving at a Corps 614 location when they worked in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. Corps 614 is a Biblical reference from Isaiah 61:4 to a need for renewal.
“Toronto 614 needed a core officer and so it’s really quite an honour because inner city Toronto is a real spotlight place for the Salvation Army,” he said. “The Salvation Army’s highest profile work is working on the streets and really helping people out of addiction and homelessness. For the last few years we’ve been really concentrating on helping people out of sexual trafficking and they’ve got a big corrections ministry as well in downtown Toronto.”

Read 12136 times Last modified on Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:27
Matthew Liebenberg