‘Big Heart For Everybody’
Local Salvation Army Capt. Leaving In June
HARRISONBURG — Ann Saturnus heard Capt. Duane Burleigh’s farewell, but she’s determined to make sure his scheduled departure date will not mark the last she sees of him.
“I’d be honored if you did my wedding,” she told him Monday night.
The moment seemed to capture why an admittedly long day made Burleigh so emotional earlier. After six years as captain of the local Salvation Army, he received a call Monday morning that he and his wife, Cathie, were to be re-assigned to an adult rehabilitation center in Hampton Roads.
Their last day in Harrisonburg is June 15.
“We’re not happy to leave family,” Burleigh said after an annual volunteer awards ceremony at Eastern Mennonite University on Monday night, “but we’re excited to enter a new battlefield.”
The captain held back tears as best he could when announcing his re-appointment to the crowd of roughly 350 supporters. It was leaving people such as Saturnus, who logged an area-high 150 hours of bell ringing this past Christmas season, and going away at a dire time for the local chapter — the Salvation Army homeless shelter needs long-term financial security — that makes it a difficult goodbye.
“He’s got a big heart for everybody,” said Saturnus, 46, a former shelter resident who plans to marry Donald Bottenfield later this summer.
Burleigh will gladly return for the ceremony, he said, as long as it’s OK with the chapter’s next leaders, Hank and Eunice Harwell, both majors coming from Mississippi.
A Rome, N.Y., native, Burleigh and his wife arrived in the city in June 2008 after serving five years with the Salvation Army of Winchester.
He said chapter leaders typically stay three or four years, but longer if they are “doing something right.”
“I’m hoping that we did something right,” said Burleigh, 61.
For the homeless shelter, a 72-bed facility serving area families with children and single men and women, he leaves with a success story: He helped it reach the first of three fundraising goals, a $155,000 target to keep it open the rest of the year.
In late November, the chapter announced that if it didn’t find a long-term solution to its $125,000 annual deficit within 90 days, it would be forced to close its homeless shelter at Jefferson Street and Ashby Avenue.
However, that first fundraising step is just a “Band-Aid,” Burleigh said. Officials now want to push donations and pledges to about $175,000 a year for the shelter to get it through the next five to seven years and then create an endowment — in the $1.3 million range — through major gifts and from people who include the shelter in their wills.
“We can do it because of the folks that are in this room, the folks who live in this community. But it is a team effort,” Burleigh said to Monday’s audience. “I’m proud to call you family.”
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org