Salvation Army gets major change

Majs. Ben and Beth Stillwell are Midwesterners at heart. Although they have spent the last seven years working for the Salvation Army in Cape Girardeau, Mo., they are happy to be back in a region they have grown comfortable with over the years.

Ben said he likes that he can get the Big 10 network again.

“This is the Midwest with all the bells and whistles,” Ben said. “It’s very nice, very familiar.”

The Stillwells took over for Maj. Bob Miles and his wife at the end of June. The Miles assumed an interim position following Majs. John and Judith McCarty’s retirement in January.

On average, Ben said, the Salvation Army moves couples every three years, eight months. He and his wife said they are hoping this will be their last move. They have already gotten their library cards and paid a visit to the Marshalltown Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The two said Marshalltown shares many similarities with their home cities of Frankfort, Ind. and Kankakee, Ill. Frankfort is the county seat and has a population roughly the same size as Marshalltown, according to census data.

“It’s like coming back home,” Beth said.

The Stillwells come with 28 years’ experience as officers for the Salvation Army.

With roughly seven years until retirement, Ben said he believes he can bring some fresh ideas to the local Salvation Army. During their stay here, he said he would like to see growth within the church.

Beth said many people believe the Salvation Army exists to give people hand-outs. Ben said they want to focus on giving people a hand-up, breaking the cycle of poverty and abuse prevalent in those seeking help from their ministry.

“We can be God’s hands here on Earth and bring a bit of heaven to those that are hungry, homeless,” Ben said.

The Salvation Army believes man is made up of at least three aspects: the physical, the mental and the spiritual, Ben said. The key to breaking the cycle of violence and poverty is education.

They are concerned with enabling those in need to help themselves, Beth said. She used the maxim “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime” to illustrate the couple’s philosophy.

“We can teach a man job skills If you capture their heart, their hands and head will follow,” Ben said.

The Stillwells have been married 33 years and have three grown children and one grandchild.