By Riley Manning
TUPELO – The North Mississippi branch of the Salvation Army will bid fond farewell to its senior officers, Major Susan Dorman and Lt. Jervonne Hinton.
“If I was a nun, all I’d have is a suitcase,” Dorman said, looking around her boxed-up office at Army headquarters on Carnation Street.
Dorman, whose new assignment will be in Florence, Alabama, has served in Tupelo for the past eight years, twice the usual assignment time for Salvation Army officers.
Under her leadership, the Army’s holiday events, like Angel Tree and the Thanksgiving lunch, have continued to expand alongside fundraising efforts, like March’s Empty Bowls event. The Army’s church, too, has nearly doubled in her tenure.
“You really see the community strength at our big programs,” she said. “But even more than that, the people who show up on a daily basis just wanting to volunteer at the food line, or talk to the residents, or work with our youth, are what really make this a unique place.”
And she’s seen her share of places. Before serving in Tupelo, Dorman held appointments in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Maryland. Over time, she’s developed a taste for the welcoming nature of small towns, especially Tupelo.
“When you have the call to this ministry, you know it’s going to be like this. It’s not easy. I don’t do moves well because I get attached and it’s hard to leave,” she said. “I’ve got about five assignments to go before I can retire. I may come back to Tupelo because of the roots I’ve grown here.”
On Monday, Dorman will hand the reins over to husband-and-wife Majors Jeff and Linda Daniels, who will come from their appointment in Ardmore, Oklahoma. She will leave in their hands the Army’s current endeavor to expand its homeless lodge, which currently holds 19 beds and is divided between genders. The project, Dorman said, is just entering its feasibility phase, which the Army hopes will be complete by the end of the year and is necessary to meet the needs of the city’s growing homeless population.
Meanwhile Hinton, Dorman’s second-in-command, will be taking an assignment in Washington, D.C.
“(Jeff and Linda) will do wonderful. If you love people, you can go a long way,” Dorman said. “I’ve seen lives changed through the lodge. Even for those who have been lost, we know the Army was a place of refuge. And that’s exactly what we want it to be.”