Enough to feed an army


The Salvation Army’s new $6 million Leesburg worship and service center sits on 10 acres at 2605 South Street, and is nearly five times larger than its previous facility.

It has more amenities to better meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the community, including a spacious chapel, fellowship hall, large commercial kitchen, dining room to seat 120, a library, classrooms, computer lab, basketball court, teen center, ping pong and pool tables, and other attractions.

“We also have seven acres that we can expand; the opportunity is incredible,” says Lt. William Conley, corps officer along with his wife Veronica.

For those who remember the Salvation Army’s humble and former West Main site, the new 30,000 square-foot facility is worth touring. Young people are invited to get involved in after-school functions such as receive tutoring or get homework assistance, and there are life-skills programs and activities for families as well.

“This is a place where people feel safe,” says Veronica.

The corps officers were hopeful 200 people would attend a school-related function at the center, and were thrilled when 650 showed up. The Conleys also recognized this area has a large senior population and recently hosted a senior expo at the center with 40 vendors.

“And we started a program called Embrace. It’s really an opportunity for a group of men, women, parents, to come together have a meal, and inspire good conversation,” Will said.

He’s pleased the Salvation Army’s commercial kitchen has the capacity to be a teaching kitchen, and has been in contact with Lake Technical Center with hopes of offering vocational training for kids in the culinary program.

“It’s something that is in the works, and we hope it happens sometime in the near future,” Will says.

He also envisions the kitchen being a site where families can learn to make quick meals with their SNAP cards (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) and with pantry food from the Salvation Army.

“We are trying to pull them out of this generational poverty and teaching them that it is not as difficult as they think it is, and the kids learn that as well,” Will says.

An average of 300 people currently visit the Salvation Army each week for services or take part in the morning breakfasts.


About the Author

Originally from Anderson, Ind., Theresa worked for The Herald-Bulletin for many years. After experiencing a winter with 53 inches of snow, her late husband asked her to get a job in Florida, and they headed south. Well known in the area, Theresa worked with The Daily Sun and The Daily Commercial prior to joining Akers. “I finally have my dream job. I’ve wanted to work for a magazine since I was a teenager, and I’m very excited to be here,” Theresa says. “There is such positive energy at Akers that it’s infectious.” Theresa has three grown daughters—Julia lives in San Francisco, Emily is in Austin, Tex., and Maria is at the University of Central Florida.