After three years of work with the Salvation Army, Captains Deb and Jim VanderHeyden have left Terrace for a new role in Ontario.
The announcement was made in early June when the duo learned the Salvation Army would be relocating them to Sudbury for the next four years, preceding their plans to retire closer to their family in Owen Sound, Ont. The VanderHeydens will be working alongside three other officers to manage Sudbury’s food bank, thrift store and church.
“While we have loved it here, it has been difficult to live so far away from those we love,” said Deb.
Since moving to town in 2015, the VanderHeydens saw the opening of the Salvation Army’s current church space on the corner of Park Ave. and Sparks Street, served up food and support for those in need during emergencies, and began several programs within Terrace. These included a youth group, regular music performances at the Terraceview Lodge, community breakfast programs twice a week, and summer meal programs for youth three times a week — the latter being something Deb said the Salvation Army was proud to have started.
“Once the breakfast programs end at the school, we have kids in Terrace that maybe don’t have enough to eat. So we offer programming, a safe environment where you can come and be loved, do some crafts and play games,” she said.
Through the scope of their work, many in the community have said one thing is clear — the VanderHeydens cared a lot about making sure people in need had services available. When they discovered the Terrace Churches Food Bank closed over the summer months to give their volunteers a rest, the duo took it upon themselves to approach city council and advocate for more program options. While they aren’t underneath the BC Food Bank umbrella, Terrace’s Salvation Army offers its own food services twice a month year-round.
“Ah, the spat,” Deb said with a laugh. “It was not pleasant, but we felt that it was necessary. We felt that it was long overdue to bring it to the forefront that people need access to food 12 months out of the year. It’s part of what we do.”
Jim is also an Emergency Support Services (ESS) member and remembers being out at the fires across northern B.C. last summer, working in the Army’s mobile feeding kitchen to help those in need. In 2016, Jim also drove to Fort McMurray, AB to dish out hot meals and lend support to first responders battling fires.
“We spent a lot of time on that, so that strengthened the connection that we have with ESS in town, so that they know that they can call on the Salvation Army should there be a huge fire in Terrace, or something that would require feeding and pastoral care,” Deb said.
Over the last 13 years, their work with the Salvation Army has brought the VanderHeydens to two other locations in B.C., including Quesnel and Fort St. John, but Jim noted there was something unique about Terrace.
“I think we were invited more into people’s lives, whether it’s celebration, trauma or drama… it just feels like we were welcomed in quite nicely, even almost adopted,” Jim said. “We’ve made some lifelong friends here.”
Their replacements, Rick and Sarah Apperson, started work here July 10. Rick started working with the Salvation Army in Smithers from 2006 to 2016, moving up to be the director of the Salvation Army for Smithers and Houston during that time. They then moved to Winnipeg to attend the Salvation Army College for Officer Training, both graduating a couple weeks ago. This will be their first appointment as new lieutenants in Terrace.
“We were so excited that we found out that we were being appointed to Terrace, Sarah had tears of joy and let out quite a squeal because we were quite excited to be close to home,” Rick said, mentioning that the move would mean they would be closer to family in Smithers.
The two have been working closely with the VanderHeydens to learn how to build on the foundation that they’ve set.
“Our plans are just to continue things as they are with the people that we’re involved with, and see how we can enhance the programming that is already happening,” said Rick.
The Appersons will officially introduce themselves to the community during their first Sunday service at the Salvation Army church on Sparks Street on July 15.