Both have family histories that are deeply tied to the organization. Both of Albert-Watson’s parents are from India, and her father’s family converted to Christianity through Salvation Army missionaries there. Her parents met at a Salvation Army nursing school in India and eventually traveled to New York.
“I always joke because my parents met at the Salvation Army nursing school, I’m literally a product of the Salvation Army,” she said.
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Bob Watson said his family connection goes back to the Great Depression. His paternal grandfather visited the agency in Goldsboro, N.C., seeking food. Eventually his father and his father’s siblings all became officers in the organization. His father served the national commander of the Salvation Army in the U.S., a high-ranking position in the agency. He said William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, sent his maternal great-grandmother from England to the U.S. in 1901.
Watson and Albert-Watson also met while serving as officers in the organization.
While it’s still early in their local service, the pair said they’ve heard from Springfield community leaders that more programs are needed to provide recovery assistance to residents with drug addictions. Other local agencies are stepping in to provide residential drug recovery programs, Watson said, but the Salvation Army doesn’t provide that specific service locally.
“We don’t have that in close proximity here in terms of Salvation Army work but I want to emphasize we value the things that are happening in the community along those lines,” he said.