In 1991, then Lts. John and Julie Aren were sent to Crystal Lake, Ill., a far northwest Chicago suburb, with a vision of hope and a mission to “save, assimilate and mobilize” an Army of compassion through a new corps plant. With foundational work set by pioneers Bob Blazier and Bob Cormier, a plan was created and implemented for the new corps in this fast-growing region.
Thanks to the many Salvationists in the Chicago area who donated their time, talents and resources and the numerous others who made the new plant their corps home, The Salvation Army in McHenry County grew and exists today because of its faithful soldiers and community volunteers. From feeding and ministering to the homeless, to an all-volunteer bellringing program, they have been the heroes on the front lines of the corps’ ministry.
Today the Crystal Lake Corps is led by Captain Carol Lewis, who said the needs of 1,400 children and 850 families are met each Christmas, as well as the year-round needs of the numerous children and families who attend weekly community center activities, the many older adults who are fed through the Golden Diners program and so much more.