Lauri with Majors Monica and Marcelo Orbe

Lauri Hellmann learned about the Belvidere, Ill., Corps when her son, James, and his friends from high school started volunteering at the food pantry. Not only was she pleased that her teenage son was doing something so positive, but she was intrigued because, “I’m a foodie at heart,” she said.

She began donating food to the pantry, and during one of those drop-off visits struck up a conversation with the staff at the corps. “That’s when I learned it was also a church,” she said. “I’ve always trusted The Salvation Army as a charitable organization and donated over the years, especially at Christmas.”

Learning that the Army is also a place of worship and service, and a bilingual one at that, drew Lauri in around Thanksgiving in 2020. Since COVID-19 cases were high, she began attending Sunday worship via Facebook. When in-person gatherings resumed, Lauri and her son became more involved in the Belvidere Corps.

Lauri says she was also drawn to the corps by its friendly members, the biblical teaching and the corps’ heart for her community.

“Lauri and James have been a big help in enabling the corps to serve so many families in the community through the food pantry,” said Major Marcelo Orbe, corps officer. “They have giving hearts and are always eager to be involved in volunteering and ministry.”

Laurie Hellmann and other members of women’s ministries at the Belvidere Corps

“I love that my son, James, is not invisible there,” Lauri added. “He is welcomed, acknowledged and encouraged to be part of the church.”

Inspired by the corps’ mission and inclusivity, Lauri enthusiastically took part in more activities, seeking to play a greater role in sharing the love of Jesus. In addition to volunteering at the food pantry, which is open daily and serves 150 families on the first Wednesday of each month, Lauri assists with the corps’ praise team playing piano, women’s ministries, and was recently a bellringer at kettles during the Christmas season.

As a bilingual ministry, the Belvidere Corps holds worship and provides assistance in both English and Spanish. To better communicate with other corps members, Lauri recently began to learn Spanish.

“Lauri is always happy when she is at the corps and loves every minute that she can serve others and share the message of Jesus,” added Major Monica Orbe. “She is playing an important role in breaking down barriers as our corps serves a diverse community and proving that God’s message of love is the same in every language.”

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