Salvation Army captain sets goals GLEN BURNIE

FIRST ORDER OF DUTY - BIGGER QUARTERS

June 30, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

It has taken Diane Johnson less than a week to find her first major task as the new commander of the Salvation Army office in Glen Burnie: Look for larger quarters.

"That's one thing I really want to work on," the captain in the Christian organization said. "We definitely need another building."

The thrift store closed this year for lack of space. A room behind the offices on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard serves as chapel and dining hall -- but it's too small.

"We could have more programs if we had the room," Captain Johnson said.

Storage space is nonexistent; food for the hungry is stacked in the hallway.

Her predecessor in the blue-walled office, Peggy Vick, had hoped to start a search for a larger building, but was transferred to West Virginia earlier this month.

Captain Johnson said she plans to continue the work Ms. Vick started during her six-year tenure in Glen Burnie.

Her first week on the job has been a busy one: "I've been learning the different activities they do here. They do so much," she said.

The office has a $240,000 budget this year to serve about 7,000 people. About 1,000 volunteers help. The Salvation Army is part of the North County Emergency Outreach Network, a group of more than two dozen churches that operates a food bank and provides other emergency services, and last winter helped found a winter shelter for homeless men.

The lunch program has impressed Captain Johnson, in part because members of several area churches do the cooking. The daily meal for the homeless is served three weekdays plus weekends, and Captain Johnson said the homeless would benefit from meals the other two days as well.

Additionally, she would like to see the youth group expand. She has fond recollections of the Salvation Army youth ministry from her childhood in Little Rock, Ark., the church her mother took her to and remains involved in.

"My mother used to say I was her orneriest child," the 41-year-old Captain Johnson said.

But, at 12, she went from being a hellion to being saved, she said. At 19, she entered the Salvation Army's two-year college in Atlanta, Ga. Once she was ordained as a minister in the Salvation Army, she held posts in Arkansas and Oklahoma, before requesting a move east. She spent 17 years in Parkersburg, W.Va., where she temporarily resigned her commission to spend 13 years as a police dispatcher and most recently about nine months in Salisbury, where her focus was on youth ministry.

But never before was she the top officer.

"This is the first time I've been in charge. That's taking a lot of getting used to," Captain Johnson said.

And she is learning her away around the area.

"Glen Burnie is a nice community," she said. "I've never seen so many places to choose to eat from, so many stores."

With many community residents vacationing, and Captain Johnson working at a Salvation Army camp, entertaining relatives and traveling, the new commander said she expects she will not get too busy until September.

Salvation Army work leaves her little time for herself. But Captain Johnson said she enjoys volleyball, swimming and other outdoor athletics. Indoors, she plays piano and sings, mostly religious music.

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