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Scottdale resident takes Salvation Army post

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 9:15 a.m.

The Salvation Army officially opened a new office in Connellsville at 300 W. Crawford Ave.

And along with the new offices, the unit also has a new part-time director in Mary McKnight of Scottdale.

McKnight said she got involved with the Salvation Army eight years ago when she became a volunteer at the service unit located in Scottdale.

“I volunteered for awhile, before I got a part-time job at the unit in Masontown,” she said. “I was there for about 18 months before I got a full time job in Greensburg that I held for about six years.”

After that stint, she did get away from the Salvation Army for a few years, but when she heard about the opening in the Scottdale/Connellsville area, she decided to apply.

“I like working with people and I'm very excited about the opportunity,” she said. “I hope we can raise the bar for the unit.”

Fran Brace, development director of the Salvation Army of Western Pennsylvania, said the unit will not just be for the Connellsville area anymore. Instead it will a unit that combines the needs of those in Scottdale, as well as Connellsville.

She added that Scottdale had just a few volunteers working out of a local church, and there were no official hours of operation. Instead, it was by appointment only.

In Connellsville, the former director retired, so they also needed to do something there as well.

“We no longer have a feeding program at Connellsville, but we will still focus on Project Bundle Up and organizing the different kettle drives,” Brace said. “Maybe some time in the future we can look to partner with a church to continue the feeding program.”

She added one of McKnight's jobs will be to begin building an advisory board.

“We'd make sure we have an equal number of representatives from both communities,” Brace said. “Combining the two offices is a great way to accomplish what we needed to while making sure people are being helped in the community.”

McKnight will put in 29 hours a week on the job.

“It is sad to see the food program close at this point, but only God knows what the future holds,” she said.

She added that since the unit office has just opened, she asks for patience.

“We want people to know that we're here and we're doing what we can,” McKnight said.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.