New majors take helm at Salvation Army

There were some major changes recently at the Salvation Army in Warren.

The Salvation Army has welcomed Majors Ralph and Diane Campbell as its new leaders in Warren.

Moving to Warren from Zanesville, Ohio, is a return to western Pennsylvania for the Campbells – Ralph was born in New Brighton and lived in Beaver Falls, and Diane was born and lived in McKeesport. They married in 1979 and moved to Ohio where they have lived for the past 35 years. The Campbells spent eight years in Massillon, Ohio, with the Salvation Army and then nine years in Zanesville.

“I’ve always been with the Salvation Army, as a church and as a minister,” Ralph said.

“I’ve been with the Salvation Army 35 years,” Diane said. “I married into it.”

The Campbells came to Warren on June 24 as the former local Salvation Army leaders, Majors Ron and Margaret Starnes, left for Oil City the next day. And it was just in time, as Ralph and Ron are cousins.

“That doesn’t happen too often, that I’m following this young gentleman who I’ve known all his life – watched him grow,” he said.

The Campbells have only been here a few weeks and said they’ve felt welcomed and right at home.

“It gave you that real down-home type of feeling, everybody saying hello to everybody, people talking to you…it was really fun,” he said. “We got a big kick out of the chairs (along Pennsylvania Avenue); we didn’t know what was going on.”

Putting chairs down to reserve a spot for the Fourth of July parade shows the importance and pride people can have in their community, they said.

“I liked it. I thought it was nice that they do that for the people,” Diane said of the carnival and the fireworks for the Fourth of July. “A good foundation has been laid and you build on what’s already been done. It’s a good feeling to come in and just continue on, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. For me, it’s like I’m coming home. You live in Ohio but you’re always from Pennsylvania. I’m coming home. I love the hills and the river; I’m thrilled to be back home.”

“The scenery is breathtaking,” Ralph said.

The Campbells said they don’t plan on making any major changes to the operations at the Salvation Army, rather they want to watch what has been done and make enhancements where needed.

“We like to add more than change,” he said. “We try to just take what the minister has done before and walk along with it until we get better…we’re looking to add on new programs. We’d like to find some new programs to help the young people and the adults and go from there.”

Diane said she’d like to focus on the neighborhood around the Salvation Army and reach out to provide a support system to children.

“Sometimes children get to school and they feel isolated…but this way they can get some confidence and build up and be stronger for it,” she said.

The Salvation Army’s Cobham Youth Day Camp is running this summer and will start back up during the school year as an afterschool program.

In a couple weeks, the Campbells will also get to experience their first trip to the Warren County Fair where they’ll help make and sell funnel cakes as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army.