(Above) The Salvation Army hosted a celebratory luncheon in September to recognize retiring board members. From left, Thomas Skidmore, Kelly Heed and George Hungerford

In 1980, lawyer George Hungerford was approached to join The Salvation Army’s Greater Vancouver Advisory Board, a dedicated group of community leaders positioned to assist and advise the Army’s work in the community. His father served on the same board for many years and Hungerford had previously been involved in a door-to-door canvassing fundraiser, so he knew about the mission of the Army and the work that it does.

“The board does not try to interfere with the operations of the Army, but they come to us for advice, whether it’s for new programs or existing programs,” explains Hungerford. “And in those days, which would have been the 1980s, Vancouver was growing at a fast rate and the Army was really challenged with all the demands on its services. The board came in to help.”

The Salvation Army’s Greater Vancouver Advisory Board has been fortunate to have dedicated and passionate members like Hungerford, Kelly Heed and Tom Skidmore, who have recently retired from their roles. Their contributions leave a lasting impact on the way the board operates and how it continues to advise Army events, initiatives, fundraising and operations inthe Vancouver area. 

A Turning Point

Over the years, Hungerford witnessed a transformation in the role and effectiveness of the advisory board. In the past, it had operated in relative isolation, without much engagement with the Army’s operations. However, Hungerford saw an opportunity to leverage the knowledge and expertise of board members, who were all deeply active and involved in the community, to provide valuable advice and support.

The advisory board became even more involved in 1998 during a large capital campaign that Hungerford felt provided the perfect opportunity to attract new support for the cause. Hungerford’s goal was to create enthusiasm around this capital campaign, bringing in new people with valuable expertise and networks, and expanding the diversity of the active members of the board.

“We were lucky to have some very fine officers who worked with us at the time, including a young officer named Lieutenant John Murray,” says Hungerford about now Lt-Colonel John Murray, territorial secretary for communications. “He was out in Vancouver and very excited to try and help this capital campaign along. We all felt it was critical to the Army’s mission out here, and John was a very, very good learner.”

Skidmore with Lt-Col John Murray at the retirement luncheon

At the time, Lt-Colonel Murray was director of the Circle of Caring Capital Campaign, the first major gifts campaign in the history of the Canada and Bermuda Territory. According to Lt-Colonel Murray, the capital campaign was about investing in the community through the planning, redesign and rebuilding of infrastructure.

“It reinvigorated The Salvation Army’s mission across the Lower Mainland, engaging volunteers, donors, officers, employees, media and government partners,” says Lt-Colonel Murray. “It was truly a watershed moment in the history of the British Columbia Division, and those that we serve continue to benefit from the campaign to this day.”

As part of this campaign, Hungerford brought in Tom Skidmore, who became chair of the capital campaign and was instrumental in later workings of the advisory board. With Skidmore’s help, the campaign was a success. Though they had initially brought in consultants that told them they would be lucky to raise $5 million, Hungerford said to Skidmore, “I think we can exceed that.” By the end of the campaign, The Salvation Army had raised more than $20 million.

“It was a successful campaign in other ways, too,” says Hungerford. “It motivated change in our advisory board. We felt like we were contributing to the Army’s efforts and it made us more committed to being involved. If you have an advisory board and don’t give them something to do, they’re not going to go very far. The campaign gave us a real purpose.”

Doing Good With the Army

Kelly Heed’s involvement with The Salvation Army began about 25 years ago when Hungerford and Skidmore reached out to him for property-related advice. He brought a unique perspective to the advisory board. With a background in real estate, he recognized that by leveraging the value of properties, the Army could change or restructure services to better serve the community.

Heed served on the board for more than 25 years

“I tell the young people whom I work with in real estate, the best thing they can do is get involved in giving back,” says Heed, who notes that most charitable organizations rarely have anybody who has knowledge of real estate, yet reale state is a large part of their operations.

“I’m not a religious Christian, but I’m a believer in doing good,” says Heed, who firmly believes in the mission of The Salvation Army. “The Army does good work and rarely asks for credit for what they do. Whether there is a hurricane or fire, who is there first? The Salvation Army.”

Heed, Hungerford and Skidmore were instrumental in many fundraising efforts for the Army during their time on the advisory board. According to Heed, these initiatives not only help to raise money toward mission, but also raise awareness and recognition of the work that the Army does. 

"Whether there is a hurricane or fire, who is there first? The Salvation Army." - Kelly Heed

Here to Help

Throughout their time working on the advisory board, Hungerford, Skidmore and Heed used their extensive networks to introduce The Salvation Army to various levels of the community, including politicians and business leaders. Their objective was to work together, introduce new ideas and push the Army to think outside the box while remaining committed to the organization’s mission.

Skidmore speaks at the celebratory luncheon

In a celebratory luncheon in September, the family and friends of Hungerford, Skidmore and Heed were invited to join as The Salvation Army recognized and honoured the vast contributions that the three have made to the Greater Vancouver Advisory Board over the years.

“It was very nice to be recognized,” says Hungerford. “We all felt it was time for us to let others take their turn. But I still try to maintain my connection to the Army. I make contributions as long as I can, and we’re still on the sidelines to help.”

“The Salvation Army is grateful for the dedicated leadership and passionate support of George, Tom and Kelly, who have provided a combined total of 91 years of senior executive volunteer leadership to the organization,” says Lt-Colonel Murray. “I had the joy and privilege of working with them for the nine years we served on the British Columbia divisional team in Vancouver, and I am pleased to call them friends.”

Photos: Raymond Shum

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