Faces of The Army – Captain Jerry Casey: How I Became An Officer of The Salvation Army
I‘m the Captain here in Northeast Louisiana in Monroe. But this wasn’t the life I ever dreamed I’d have or thought I wanted.
I was a drug addict in legal trouble and ended up in county jail for four months. While serving time, I called my family every day and begged for money for chips and cookies. Sadly, I was really stashing their money aside until my release date so I could return to my drug dealer and get high again. It was a day I looked forward to, and I was convinced that nothing would stop me from doing drugs again.
Upon release, police officers dropped me off at the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Atlanta, explaining that The Salvation Army’s program would speed up my time on parole. Knowing my family had put me in multiple rehabilitation centers, and would again, I just agreed with the officers so that everyone would leave me alone. Not to mention, I knew I was close to hopping on a bus back to my drug dealer the second those officers left.
I just agreed with the officers so that everyone would leave me alone. Not to mention, I knew I was close to hopping on a bus back to my drug dealer the second those officers left.
As the door opened, I was welcomed by Major Linda Delaney who invited me in to have something to eat. Seeing as the food I had been eating for the last four months wasn’t great, and I was less than 100 lbs., I figured I’d stay for a hot meal.
After eating, Major Delaney returned to me, suggested I looked tired, and offered me a bed for the night. I was exhausted and decided to stay and wait until the next day to meet my drug dealer. The following day I was offered a big breakfast and decided to stay around for a few hours and see what this place was all about.
I was at The Salvation Army warehouse where donations of clothing, furniture, and household items were being stored when an employee asked for volunteers to help transport items from the thrift store to the warehouse. I volunteered and got to know the Director of Operations during the trip. He took an interest in me as a person, which was refreshing. I explained to him my past career as a mechanic for a large automotive company before my addiction took over my life.
And wouldn’t you know it, Major Delaney’s car had been giving her mechanical issues, so the Director asked me to look at the vehicle. It took me 10 minutes to fix the problem others had been trying to settle for a while. That’s when Major Delaney and the Director of Operations asked that I stay and repair mechanical donations and box trucks. I was in my element, so I stayed. I still wasn’t looking to get clean or get my life together, but I was happy fixing stuff. Seeing Major Delaney happy and proud of me for repairing their items felt really good. That’s when I became a client of the ARC without even trying.
After four and a half years, the Lord called me to become an Officer. It’s a calling that just came to me, and there wasn’t any way of getting around it. It was God’s plan.
With God’s grace, I started meeting with people in the city: Habitat of Humanity, Lowe’s, and privateconstruction companies that came and did demolition work for us. I was also attending Business Leader meetings in town when one day, I was asked questions about The Salvation Army’s buildings and the demolition work being done. I stood up and told them about my vision for the property, the programs we would offer the community, what we wanted to get done, and what we would get done.
Three days later, the chairman of that meeting called to say he was financing us for one solid year, meaning $180,000. This allowed us to finish cleaning the property, buy the needed program items, and successfully open the programs.
With that, I continued addressing the community every chance I got. Whenever anyone came by the property, I was either on the roof fixing something, power washing the building, sewing mattresses together, or sharing a meal with someone on the street. People would come by for tours, and I always made myself available. The community saw the progress and outreach and began financially supporting the Corps.
One time a CEO of a health company came by for a meeting with me. During our meeting, a gentleman walked in and said he was hungry. I excused myself to fix him a meal when the CEO said, I thought you were closed, and I responded, and that’s supposed to stop me from helping someone?