The Salvation Army has been a part of Nanaimo’s history as far back as anyone can remember.
The Salvation Army Nanaimo Corps is celebrating its 125th anniversary in the city, and is inviting the community to help recognize the milestone. The church is holding an open house Thursday (April 25) at its Nicol Street location downtown.
Fourteen years after Nanaimo was incorporated, the Salvation Army founded its local corps. Five years after that, in 1893, the church was built; it still stands, housing family services and the meal program.
“It’s probably one of the oldest buildings downtown still standing,” said Rob Anderson, the local corps’ community ministries director. He said the 125-year milestone makes him reflect on what the Salvation Army has meant to Nanaimo over the years.
“One hundred and twenty-five years. We’ve been working with the city all that time, providing faith and service to the community,” he said. “I don’t think [people] realize all the services we provide. They see us and they know we provide meals, but we also provide emergency shelter, transitional housing, housing for parolees, we refer people to treatment…”
The list goes on and on, he said. The Salvation Army helps people get haircuts and chiropractic adjustments, it helps with tax preparation, it offers laundry and shower facilities. Twenty years ago, a municipal grant helped the charity upgrade its soup kitchen into a program that provides 75,000 hot meals a year, according to the church.
Thursday’s open house goes from 11:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mayor John Ruttan is scheduled to unveil a commemorative plaque at 2:30 p.m.