For 15 years, Prince Rupert became familiar with Captains Gary and Nancy Sheils, particularly over the holiday season, but since their departure the Salvation Army is under new leadership — and Lieutenant Sabrina Silvey is up to the task.
This is Silvey’s first appointment as a corps officer in the Salvation Army, but she’s been involved with the organization for most of her life.
“I grew up in the Salvation Army,” Silvey said. “I was raised by a single mom who had a lot of struggles, and the Salvation Army was always there for us. The Salvation Army was my family growing up.”
Along with her husband Greg, who is serving as the community ministry’s coordinator, the Silveys moved to the City of Rainbows in late July 2017.
The wife-and-husband duo previously spent 12 years in the ministry in Williams Lake, before Sabrina went to training college through the army to be ordained and commissioned. She has also run social services and children programming since she started working with the organization when she was 18 years old.
It took Greg a few more years to find the church-based group.
“I actually never even belonged to a church for most of my life until I became an adult. I ended up attending a function with the Salvation Army and connected in. It just grew from volunteering with them a bit to working with them and volunteering to just realizing that God had a lot of really amazing things in store for me that I didn’t know,” Greg said.
Upon arriving in Rupert, the Silveys were given a warm welcome by community members and businesses who were involved with the Salvation Army under the Sheils’ guidance.
“The Salvation Army has amazing partnerships with a lot of businesses in town. It was very heartwarming to see how supportive the community is here,” Sabrina said.
Greg agreed and said “The Sheils had an amazing ministry out here for many, many years and they built the Salvation Army up in this community in an amazing way.
“We just want to continue to be faithful to that ministry that they built, and we want to build upon that. We want to expand it, we want to reach more people if we can. We want to ensure that people aren’t falling between the cracks when it comes to needing food. We want to be sure that they’re getting the services they need. If they need alcohol treatment, we want to provide that. If they’re homeless, we want to address that,” Greg said.
Their first big event came into the city with a pack of bikers. More than 110 bikers revved their engines on Sept. 30 for the 36th annual Toy Run.
“I’ve never seen so many bikes in one location and we’ve spent time in the Okanagan, and there are a lot of Harleys in that area, but nothing like that. People came from all over, as far as Alaska to support it,” Greg said.
The donated toys and proceeds from the run will go toward their next initiative: the Christmas Hamper program. The Silveys have a few surprise events up their sleeves — including a teddy bear toss — that Sabrina said they cannot reveal yet.
“To be a corps officer is a calling. God calls you to this. It’s not really a decision you make, it’s a call and you answer it,” Sabrina said. “It was very overwhelming and humbling to know that God was going to use me in such a big way.”