Faces of the Army: Trudy Hall James-Brown
Volunteer & Women’s Auxiliary Member, The Salvation Army Vicksburg, MS Corps
Ms. Trudy Hall James-Brown has served three terms as Women’s Auxiliary President for The Salvation Army of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and has volunteered with the corps for over 20 years. She first became involved with The Salvation Army when her daughters needed to earn community service hours in high school. One day she received an email sharing that The Salvation Army needed Angel Tree volunteers. She and her daughter manned the tree during Christmas 2000, and that was the start of Ms. Trudy’s relationship with The Salvation Army.
Community Service and Discovering The Salvation Army
Ms. Trudy and her two daughters manned the Angel Tree each Christmas until they both completed high school. When a friend’s husband passed away, Ms. Trudy invited her to volunteer with Angel Tree to keep her mind busy while she grieved. She later influenced that friend to become a member of the Women’s Auxiliary.
“My relationship with The Salvation Army grew from my experiences with Angel Tree. I saw another email requesting help with the Corps of Engineers Volunteer Day at the distribution center to sort bags and set up a toy store. After my experience in the distribution center, I thought, ‘Hmmm, I kind of like that too!’ so I started taking off work each week so that I could participate,” Ms. Trudy shared.
She volunteered weekly for four years before she became a member of The Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary in 2004. The Women’s Auxiliary does fundraisers to support The Salvation Army. Affairs of the Heart is one of the longest fundraisers of the Vicksburg Corps Women’s Auxiliary. Talented people, young and old alike, volunteer their talents to entertain Vicksburg for a night. A concession stand and admission fee help raise money for the Vicksburg Corps.
“It started as me helping my daughters with community service hours and turned into me seeing how much I could help my community. Each time I did something, I saw the reward. Recipients being able to receive things they needed and just the comradery of people volunteering made me want to continue helping. There was just love all around the place. I just enjoyed it more and more,” Ms. Trudy reflects.
To anyone considering volunteering with The Salvation Army, Ms. Trudy says to come on over and sign up.
“Please come! Just come for a little while and you won’t want to leave. I invite you to come and just spend some time with us,” Ms. Trudy stated.
“Through all of the activities that we do, my favorite part is just seeing the rewards of the recipients and what we do for them, regardless of the activity. Feeding, clothing, Angel Tree; I’m fully committed,” she added.
The Missing Piece
The Salvation Army has filled that piece between church, work, and home for Ms. Trudy. It’s that piece that makes her feel as though she’s making a difference within the community although she doesn’t always see the results right away.
An example of not seeing results right away is a young man who used to attend the Vicksburg Corps’ Youth Programs and is now a TSA officer.
“To see him go through middle and high school and to now be an officer is just fantastic. I watched this person grow up. That was just ‘WOW.’ You never know who you’re influencing. You can make a difference in someone’s life and not even know it.”
Ms. Trudy and the officer have kept in touch throughout the years.
Salvation Army officers change appointments every few years. Since Ms. Trudy has volunteered with the Army for over 20 years, she has worked with five different officers.
“It’s quite different once you get to know one and you get attached to them, and then they leave and your heart goes with them,” Ms. Trudy shared.
Volunteers Are The Backbone of the Army
“Volunteers are the ones who really know the place. I don’t know what’s going on inside the corps, but I see what’s happening on the front ends. The volunteers are the backbone of The Salvation Army. Without the volunteers, I don’t think that we could function. Actually, I know we couldn’t; I’m not thinking, I know we couldn’t,” Ms. Trudy laughed.
“And I’m not talking about me; I’m talking about all of us. Each volunteer comes with their talents and skills, and we need them all. One body, many members. Everyone has their area of expertise that they bring to the table and we just fit together.”
One thing the public should know about TSA
“Coming from the outside, I didn’t know The Salvation Army is a church. I just thought it was an organization that did community projects. I didn’t know the history of it. I don’t think I’m the only person who is unaware of that. That’s the heart of man,” Ms. Trudy shared.
“The Salvation Army is a great place to get involved. A place where you can come to volunteer and see a life-changing experience for young people. It has helped me to see the good in everybody regardless of where they come from.”
For more information on how you can become a Salvation Army volunteer, visit https://salvationarmyalm.org/volunteer/.