Salvation Army service center head resigns, citing lack of support from divisional headquarters

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Just four months after being named the service center director for the Salvation Army of Wilson, Montressee “Chon” Ferrell has submitted her resignation.

“It felt like they just said, ‘You’re the service center director now, good luck,’ but you can’t do that,” Ferrell said. “If I’m supposed to be the leader, I need guidance and support. Without that, it pushed me to my breaking point in that sense.”

Ferrell spent a decade climbing the ranks with the local Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club and was eager to be the organization’s first service center director when headquarters officials opted to shutter the church and move the social services into the family store. In anticipation of selling the church and adjacent properties, Salvation Army renovated the store and club.

“It has been very, very hectic. I’ve had several full-time jobs while trying to continue with the day-to-day activities and that is hard,” she said. “They hadn’t hired a store manager until last week, so I had to do that and bring in the revenue it needed to show (divisional headquarters) that the Salvation Army is needed in Wilson and we’re helping people.”

Salvation Army of the Carolinas divisional communication and marketing director Shelley Henderson said staff from headquarters and the post in Rocky Mount have pitched in during the transition.

“Multiple professionals specializing in information technology, property, communications, youth service, disaster service, board development, fundraising, family store and finance have made numerous trips to Wilson and continue to work to ensure that families that rely on The Salvation Army continue to have food security, rent and utility assistance and summer day camp and after-school care for children,” Henderson said.

Ferrell said she felt like every subject became a point of contention, including getting the club’s gymnasium air conditioning.

“It took a lot of persuading and a lot of convincing that we needed it. If you’re just standing there and sweating, it should be obvious,” she said, adding local Salvation Army advisory board members were supportive of her efforts. “I came into the position thinking I could turn it around like I did with the club, but there is just so much. I was trying to run everything and in the midst of it, the Salvation Army wasn’t helping.”

With that, Ferrell turned in her resignation and clocked out for the last time on Friday. She said many were stunned to find out Ferrell wasn’t leaving for another job, but her response was always, “Enough is enough.”

“I believe in the Salvation Army. I believe in these kids, but things have got to change,” she said. “If you want the Salvation Army of Wilson to thrive and continue to serve people, there has to be more support from headquarters.”

Henderson said the organization is committed to Wilson and is accepting applications for the post of service center director until June 26. Visit tinyurl.com/y62v2pv8 for more information or to apply for the position.

“Our goal is to have someone hired mid-July,” she said. “In the meanwhile, Salvation Army officers and staff from Rocky Mount are filling the service center director role.”

Officials said local donations — monetary, goods or time — are essential to doing the most good.

“We are working in the community because that is what Jesus calls us to do,” Henderson said. “Community support enables us to help people in ways that are life-sustaining and life-changing in Wilson County.”