Introducing our new Salvation Army Officers in Newburgh
by Michele Starkey
Majors Claudia and Johnson Germain have taken charge of the operations of The Salvation Army in Newburgh. They arrived several weeks ago and their presence is already beginning to impact the neighborhood where they will serve hopefully for five years or more. Johnson said, “You are given an appointment to serve at a location and I believe it to be a God-ordained appointment.” Claudia added, “My parents were always involved with The Salvation Army. I grew up in The Salvation Army environment and attended The Salvation Army church in Antigua WI and the Virgin Islands.” In fact, Claudia began dating Johnson while in St. Thomas USVI. Johnson moved to Miami and the relationship was strained by the long distance. Claudia moved with her family to New York City. One day, Johnson phoned her from Miami and said, “Do you still want to marry me?” She said “Yes.” The Germains celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary this past July and have one daughter in college. For most of those marriage years they have continued serving in The Salvation Army.
“We went to The Salvation Army School for Officers training in 2003; from there we headed to our first appointment in Brownsville before being relocated to Waltham, Massachusetts. Although Waltham was a smaller appointment with one staff member, my wife and I also serviced many surrounding towns as we were the only Salvation Army in the area. From there we were assigned to our next location in Astoria Queens,” Johnson said, “Our feeding program at that location was huge. Over 85% of the feeding program consisted of feeding the homeless and elderly populations. We also ran a food pantry program to provide food for those with food insecurity.”
The assignment in Astoria was a bit of a cultural shock for the Germains as the population was predominantly Spanish speaking. We were stretched in our ability to adapt to the language and the culture but were enabled to reach deep into the community.”
When they were first given the opportunity to come to Newburgh, Claudia recalls Johnson’s first words, “Somehow, I believe that Newburgh may be our best appointment yet.” One of Johnson’s first tasks after they arrived was to spruce up the outside of the Newburgh Salvation Army Corps located on Newburgh’s Van Ness Street. After weeding, mowing and mulching, he noticed that his neighbors were also mowing and cleaning up. “I’m making it a point to say hello to my neighbors and let them know we’re here if they need us. We love people, all people and we serve everyone without judging them. We are here to reach out to the community and our hope is that they will reach back to us. We want to walk through life with them, ministering to them and we are available for them if and when they need us. It’s a mutual engagement.” He added, “This isn’t just a Salvation Army building, it is God’s house and we want everything that we do here to reflect that.”
The Salvation Army has been a staple in our Newburgh Community for years caring for those in need and “Doing the Most Good®.” The trademark quote was derived from Catherine Booth, the co-founder of the Salvation Army . A major part of the funding for The Salvation Army comes from those Red Kettle collections that we’ll begin seeing in our neighborhoods around the beginning of November. Johnson said, “We’d like to start our Red Kettle effort on or right after Veteran’s Day on November 11th.”
If you are in need or would like to volunteer you can get additional information about the Salvation Army Newburgh at: ttp://newyork.salvationarmy.org/location/newburgh-corps/ The phone number is (845) 562-0413.