WARSAW — Majors Bill and Trish Welch of the Salvation Army have been serving the Warsaw community for the past 3 1/2 years. The couple along with Salvation Army staff just completed Christmas distribution, which saw 125 families, with 250 children, adopted by others for Christmas gifts and a meal.
For the majors Christmas begins the week before Thanksgiving with the deployment of bell ringers. Distribution for Christmas was done Dec. 18, but at press time, the Salvation Army was in the process of assisting a few families.
The Welches have been part of the Salvation Army for 22 years. Bill was introduced to the Salvation Army as a bell ringer while attending college. He met Trish, who attended a different school, while on a religious field trip to Wisconsin. To be an officer, the couple attended seminary in Chicago for two years. After that the couple were deployed to their first assignment in Port Huron, Mich.
“They (Salvation Army leadership) tell you where you’re going and when and you have about two months to move,” Welch said. The couple’s shortest deployment was six months and their longest was eight years. Welch said a typical assignment is about three to five years.
The Salvation Army breaks the U.S. up into four territories and Indiana is the furthest east of the central territory, which has South Dakota, Michigan and Missouri as its other borders. “We’ve been in Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana,” he said.
The Welches have really enjoyed their time in Warsaw. “We really like it here,” Welch said. “It’s such a beautiful area … We thought it was like Illinois, it’s different with the lakes.” Both grew up in Illinois and also loved being on assignment there, as well, since it was close to family.
The couple have two daughters, ages 21 and 11.
Welch said most people are surprised to hear the Salvation Army is a church, not just a social service agency. There are Sunday services, Wednesday Bible study and Tuesday night youth programs. He and Trish typically take turns giving the Sunday sermon each week. About 20 regular congregants attend services each week.
As a social service agency, the Salvation Army Corps also runs a food pantry year round where families can come once a month for food. Welch said about 250 families are served by the Warsaw Corps food pantry. “The money they (donors) give is used all year long for our programs,” he said.
When the couple aren’t busy they enjoy hiking, reading and spending time with family.