Fullwoods leaving Greensburg Salvation Army for Pittsburgh corps
For Majs. Earnest and Vanessa Fullwood, there’s more than one way to preach the gospel.
Inviting people to Sunday services at the Greensburg Salvation Army is one. Feeding them on Monday is another.
“A lot of people do not identify us with being a church. … That’s our primary job — to preach the gospel,” Earnest Fullwood said.
The Fullwoods hope that their practice of preaching in word and deed will outlast them as they depart Greensburg for a new position with the Salvation Army in Pittsburgh.
The married couple of 39 years got their marching orders in May, assigning them to the Family Caring Center, East Liberty Corps. Vanessa Fullwood, 60, will serve as director/corps officer, and Earnest Fullwood, 63, will serve as associate director/corps officer, as well as Allegheny County prison ministry coordinator and veterans’ representative.
Their new positions begin July 3.
“It’s with regret that we move on. We were hoping to retire here — we’ve got three more years. But … they needed us in other places,” Earnest Fullwood said.
During their time in Greensburg, the Fullwoods oversaw the expansion of programs including Pathway of Hope, Love in a Backpack and the Back 2 School Bash. They also participated in Unity in the Community, a gathering of area clergy working to address the opioid epidemic.
“We loved it,” Earnest Fullwood said. “We love the people in the community. We loved working with them and the different organizations, particularly the churches. I’ve never seen so many churches collaborate with the Salvation Army.”
The Fullwoods said the most pressing problems they witnessed in Greensburg were family dysfunction, homelessness and drug addiction.
“A lot of children don’t have enough to eat,” Vanessa Fullwood said.
At the start of the 2018-19 school year, the Greensburg corps adopted the Love in a Backpack program, which provided children from Nicely Elementary School and Greensburg Salem Middle School with nonperishable food items for the weekend.
“We’d see a lot of children that knew us. That’s what was special about being here in Greensburg — just developing those relationships with the children,” Vanessa Fullwood said.
The Greensburg corps hopes to receive funding to continue Love in a Backpack in the new school year, she said.
The Salvation Army also provides rent assistance, utility bill assistance and meals on Monday and Friday. The latter are offered at the Greensburg headquarters, 131 E. Otterman St., from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and typically serve 75 people.
An average of 60 people attend Sunday services. Sunday school starts at 10 a.m., and worship starts at 11 a.m.
The Red Kettle Campaign is the Greensburg corps’ primary fundraiser and meeting its goal each year has been difficult, Earnest Fullwood said.
“We’re struggling because the need is greater each particular year,” he said. “We’re seeing more clients (but) we still have the same amount of funds that we had from previous years.”
The Salvation Army is a church and its programs and services are offered without discrimination — something Earnest Fullwood said he learned moving from the segregated South to the North when he was 12.
“My parents moved us to Mt. Laurel, N.J., in 1968, and that was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, besides accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior, because I got to associate with people of all kinds of faiths,” he said.
Fullwood served in the U.S. Army and as a New York state trooper before joining the Salvation Army full time with his wife. They have been officers for 19 years.
They have seven children and six grandchildren.
On Wednesday, the Salvation Army announced that two single women — Capt. Ashley Luzader and Lt. Cheyenne Martinez — will replace the Fullwoods in the first week of July.
Martinez is coming from the Pittsburgh Temple Corps, and Luzader is coming from the DuBois Worship and Service Center.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .