New leaders seek to build on Salvation Army programs in Greensburg
Growing up in Tiffin, Ohio, Ashley Luzader remembers attending the local Salvation Army with her great-grandmother.
“I would spend the night at her house on Saturday night … and go to church with her the next day,” she said. “I tried other churches, but I never felt at home.”
Today, the Salvation Army is also her career home, and that little girl is Capt. Ashley Luzader — the new commanding officer at the Greensburg Salvation Army.
Luzader, 35, is joined by Lt. Cheyenne Martinez, 24, the new assistant commanding officer. The two single women succeed Majs. Earnest and Vanessa Fullwood, who left the Greensburg Corps in July to accept an assignment in Pittsburgh at the Family Caring Center, East Liberty Corps.
The women arrived in Greensburg in the first week of July — Luzader from the DuBois Worship and Service Center in Clearfield County, and Martinez from the Pittsburgh Temple Corps in Mt. Lebanon.
They arrived just in time for the Greensburg Corps’ annual summer Vacation Bible School, and their next big challenge will be the Back 2 School Bash on Aug. 17.
So far, they like what they see in Greensburg, especially the number of children involved with the services and programs at the Salvation Army.
“We’d like to see more of their parents,” Luzader said.
What first attracted Luzader to the Salvation Army was the number of children and children’s programs in her hometown of Tiffin. In the summer of 2006, she was attending a Salvation Army youth retreat when she felt God calling her into youth ministry. At the Salvation Army’s Project 117, a school for youth ministry, she felt a further calling to the ordained ministry in 2010.
She began attending the Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training in Suffern, N.Y., in 2012 and completed the program in 2014, when she was ordained and commissioned. Her first assignment was as commanding officer for the Salvation Army in Ridgway, Elk County, where she served for three years. She served at the DuBois center for two years.
Martinez grew up in Danbury, Conn., and had her first exposure to the Salvation Army at a summer camp at age 11. “The officers were really sweet,” she said.
She attended for two summers and joined the staff for the following four summers, serving as a counselor, archery director and program assistant.
During those years, she stayed active with the Salvation Army in Danbury and its youth ministry. It was while attending a young adult retreat called Gathering 2015 that she felt called to the ministry, she said.
“I had my plan for my life, but God had his plan,” she said, noting that her erstwhile “plan” was to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York. “For me, if God wants you to do something, he’s going to continue to confirm that for you.”
Martinez left for officer training in 2016 and was ordained and commissioned in 2018. Greensburg is her second assignment.
The women lead worship services on Sunday and are responsible for the Salvation Army’s social programs, including the Red Kettle Campaign, weekly community meals, rent and utility bill assistance and the back-to-school event.
“Our doors are open Monday to Friday,” Luzader said. “We don’t judge. We don’t discriminate. We’re here for you if you need help.”
Luzader said she has not been able to do a full assessment of the Greensburg Corps’ finances but that “we need a bit of a turnaround. We need support from the community because we, in turn, support the community.”
Luzader said she was able to improve the financial situation at both Salvation Army centers where she previously served. “You don’t spend where you don’t have it,” she said.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .