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[caption width="250" caption=" Salvation Army youth worker Matt Stacy stands in front of the amphitheater on the Greenwood Lake Camp & Retreat Center, Salvation Army’s new location. ( Gazette | Kate Liebers) "][/caption]

KATE LIEBERS

Staff Writer

The Salvation Army of Delaware County has officially relocated to 340 Lake Street, a larger campus about three miles from the former site on 252 Curtis Street in Delaware.

The grounds are not unfamiliar to the Delaware Corps, however.

The Lake Street property is part of Greenwood Lake Camp & Retreat Center (off of US 42), which is owned by Salvation Army of Central Ohio and was occasionally used by the Delaware Corps.

Leaving the Curtis Street location and operating exclusively from the campgrounds is expected to allow the corps to reach out to more people and offer more centralized services.

“It’s a campsite, so we’ll be able to mix and mingle the social services with evangelical programs,” said Salvation Army youth worker Matt Stacy.

The new center is 11,000 square feet, which is 2,000 square feet more than the one on Curtis Street, said Development Director Ericka Shemberg.

Yet the real increase in size is in terms of property. Whereas the Curtis Street center’s parking lot took up most of its outdoor space, the Lake Street center sits on 68 acres. Those acres feature a picnic shelter and small playground, like the Curtis Street center, but also offer an amphitheater, a swimming pool, boats for the lake, a basketball court, a fire pit, two to three more buildings, and a chapel.

No corps funds were spent on the relocation, since the Salvation Army already owned the property.

“It’s good to let the kids have a space to call their own instead of running around the food shelves,” Stacy said.

The Salvation Army’s services have remained relatively consistent, yet the new center does offer a new “choice” food pantry.

Instead of packing grocery bags identically (depending on family size), people can now make personal selections from a standardized checklist.

Salvation Army Lt. Wanessa Moore said the new food system is much more cost-effective and efficient.

This move has been in the works for several years, Moore said. Surveys had revealed that most of the corps’ recipients lived in the Lake Street area rather than the Curtis Street area, she said.

Additionally, consolidating the two centers into one was expected to erase the misconception that Delaware had two distinct corps instead of a unified one.

After years of waiting for space on the campgrounds to open up, the Salvation Army was able to begin operating exclusively from the Lake Street site last week.

Now, corps officers can direct people to a neighboring office rather than sending people across town, Lt. Aaron Moore said.

The move is also as nostalgic for some as it is convenient for others. The Salvation Army church-goers used to pray at the campgrounds before the Delaware Corps moved to the Curtis Street site, said Mr. Moore.

Listening to services at the newly renovated chapel at the new site will be like “moving back into a place you haven’t lived in for 30 years,” he said.

Yet as improved as the Salvation Army of Delaware County’s conditions may be, the officers are still anticipating more renovations in the years to come.

The Moores said a new core building would be constructed in the next three to five years on the Lake Street site. It would house all the services that currently span three cabin-offices at the campgrounds.

An integral part of each consolidating step has been the location of the Chapel, several Salvation Army officers said.

“A lot of people don’t know it (Salvation Army) is ministry-based,” Stacy said.

He said the philosophy of Salvation Army’s founder was to unite “soup, soul and salvation.”

The more centralized the services, Stacey suggested, the better the Salvation Army will be able to fulfill its mission of social service.

kliebers@delgazette.com