MAJORS Greg and Karen Saunders have been recognised for their untiring service to the Salvation Army, but say faith in people has kept them coming back.
The couple were both promoted to the rank in December to celebrate their 15-year milestone.
They have previously served in the Illawarra, followed by Rowville in Victoria and Umina near Woy Woy.
This year marks their seventh in Orange.
“I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a Major and it means being little bit older, a little bit dented and little bit scratched,” Major Greg Saunders said with a laugh.
“And a whole lot wiser than I was when I was 25. The great potential in people and the possibility that things can change, that drives me.”
He said people were still affected by homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, broken relationships, mental health issues and isolation.
“Binge drinking as it exists today didn’t exist in my day, or it did, but not to the extent it does today,” he said.
“My youngest brother, who was adopted, he got caught up in the wrong crowd, but he would steal from us. He didn’t want to, he needed to.”
Major Saunders said his job was walking with people to show them a better way.
“A practical hand up rather than a hand out. We do a lot of handouts here, but our goal is a hand up,” he said.
“One of the greatest needs that we’ve discovered is people lack community these days. We do everything through a screen or through communication tools and people don’t connect in the physical anymore.”
When the Salvation Army fronted the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in recent weeks and days, Major Saunders said he was devastated by the content of the hearings.
“We were more surprised than [the public was]. That’s not to belittle the victims because we deal with victims all the time,” he said.
“Somewhere along the line, people have been hurt, the resolve is to stick to what we really stand for.”
The rank of major is the last rank in the Salvation Army to be awarded in connection to service. Higher ranks, including lieutenant-colonels, colonels and the general are allocated according to vacancies.