The Salvation Army In The Hudson Valley Celebrates “Sesquicentennial”

Salvation Army centers across the Hudson Valley joined forces recently to celebrate a landmark event — the 150th anniversary, or “Sesquicentennial,” of The Salvation Army’s service throughout the world.

The celebratory event, called a “150th Anniversary Gala,” took place May 14, 2015, at the Tarrytown House Estate On The Hudson in Tarrytown, New York. More than 200 guests attended the Gala, which, in addition to saluting the long and illustrious history of The Salvation Army in the Hudson Valley and around the world, honored three outstanding Salvation Army friends and members of the Hudson Valley community: Malcolm G. McLaren, President and CEO of McLaren Engineering Group; MasterCard Worldwide; and Westchester County Executive, the Honorable Rob Astorino.

The New York Showband provided the evening’s musical entertainment, and TV/radio personality Denise Richardson, Director of Communications for The Salvation Army Greater New York Division, served as MC.

A long-time Salvation Army Rockland County Advisory Board member, Mr. McLaren said of The Army:  “. . . These words, ‘Doing the Most Good,’ are not just words on a wall. They live them. . . . You are doing work around the world that is just tremendous. You’re the first ones on the scene, whether it’s a tornado, or an earthquake in Haiti, or what’s going on in Nepal. . . . I do believe that the responsibility of those of us who are not in uniform is to spread the word.”

“An organization that exists to bring salvation to the poor, destitute, and hungry by meeting both their physical and spiritual needs is a mission that’s needed more than ever now in the world today,” said Mr. Astorino. “. . . And just think of that word ‘salvation’ — helping someone’s soul. . . . So you give, you give, you give, and, oftentimes, people don’t say thank you.  Let me be the person that says ‘thank you.’”

A major highlight of the Gala program was an appearance by 7th grader Richard Vilcean, a member of the music program at The Salvation Army Spring Valley Corps Community Center. Richard, who plays the saxophone, gave testimony about how the program had helped boost his confidence and taught him valuable lessons about teamwork and responsibility. “The Salvation Army has opened me up to new people and new experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” said the youngster, who also treated guests to a performance on sax.

Altogether, the Gala raised more than $100,000 for Salvation Army programs serving individuals and families throughout the Hudson Valley region. These programs include food pantries; soup kitchens; youth enrichment activities, such as music, camping, and dramatic arts; emergency disaster services; and much more.

Keynote speaker Major James W. Betts III, General Secretary for The Salvation Army Greater New York Division, speaking on the founding and history of The Salvation Army, concluded his remarks by saying, “God reminds us daily that He created each of us in His own image. And it is with this understanding that we commit to fight for all people, in all circumstances, without discrimination.

“God raised up this Army to change the world one heart at a time. . . . We invite each of you to join us this day. May God bless you.”