- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - Salvation Army captains Benjamin and Wendy Deuel say they have one driving force: their love for people.

“We’re certainly what you’d call people-people,” Wendy Deuel said. “Wherever we’ve been it’s been our goal to build relationships.”

Both Benjamin, 34, and Wendy, 39, were raised in the Salvation Army - Benjamin all around the U.S. and Wendy in Mexico.

With Salvation Army-officer parents, both say their upbringing taught them the lifestyle they wanted as adults.

“Our parents were such examples of how to love people, and when we met in seminary we knew we had the same heart,” Benjamin said.

The couple has four young children - Isaac, 10; Josiah, 6; Jonathan, 4, and Selah, 2.

It’s the first time in over a decade that local officers have had young children.

The Deuels replace Maj. Sue Dorman, who retired earlier this month after two years in the post.

The couple came to Florence from Greenwood, Mississippi, where they spent four years, about the average length of time for officers in one location.

“Already we love it here,” Wendy said, adding that the new facilities provide a wonderful environment for the men and women served in the shelter. “We came in to a great staff, a women’s auxiliary group that’s on top of everything, and a community that cares about people. We can tell this much already.”

Benjamin described his leadership style as “by the book, where rules are concerned.”

“We always, always want a place to be better when we leave than when we arrived,” he said. “I take the rules seriously. The Salvation Army has a straight forward way of doing things, and I stick to that.”

He said one point of focus right away will be securing funding for the shelter program.

“This community is so supportive, but there are also a lot of needs here. We have to fundraise and meet those needs,” he said.

“We certainly don’t shy away from that. We want the public to know that we’re doing exactly what our slogan says, that we’re, “doing the most good” with the money we have.”

The Deuels say it’s important to them to distinguish themselves in such a way that they keep the most important priority atop their list — preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We’re not just providing social services, although that’s a huge part of what we do,” he said. “We preach the word of God and build those relationships with people. The beauty of what we do is that helping people and building those relationships with the community is so intertwined with our mission to spread the gospel. We first and foremost want to share the love of Christ.”

Wendy Deuel said her passion is to implement new programs and build on strong programs already in place. She said she already has some programming ideas, focusing on the community’s children as well as senior citizens.

“We want to extend into the community and make everyone feel a part of what we’re doing,” she said. “We’re ready to hit the ground running.”

Patricia Clemmons, the Salvation Army’s office/business manager, said the Deuels are eager to get out in the community and get to work.

“We look forward to working with them and introducing them in the community,” Clemmons said. “It’s fun to have children around again, and I believe this family is going to bring in a freshness that’s good for the Salvation Army.”

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Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/

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