Pahrump Salvation Army welcomes new officers


New leadership is in place at the Pahrump Salvation Army.

Majors Mario and Claudia Ruiz arrived in Pahrump from southern Arizona earlier this year.

Both joined the Salvation Army more than 18 years ago, and have been officers for the better part of 15 years.

“We arrived in Pahrump on February first of this year and we absolutely love it,” Claudia Ruiz said. “Our headquarters are out of Phoenix, Arizona and it is just so nice out here because it’s like coming back home. I really enjoy the heat out here, but it’s not as hot as in Arizona. We were not familiar with the Pahrump Valley before we arrived. We had no idea where it was, at the time.”

Preaching the gospel

Ruiz noted that the Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church, where its message is based on the Bible, while its ministry is motivated by the love of God.

Its mission, Ruiz said, is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.

“We have worship and bible study,” she said. “On Sunday mornings we have bible study from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and we also have a worship service here which starts at 11 a.m. every Sunday. On our youth Sundays once a month, we share a meal. It’s like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts and we provide badges for different types of services the youths take part in within the community.”

Additionally, Ruiz said the agency provides social services for members of the community.

“We give out food Monday through Thursday,” she said. “People can come get fresh produce like avocados, tomatoes, lettuce and other types of produce. If someone needs a voucher for the thrift store, we can help with that. Anyone who comes in with a valid ID can take advantage of our services. We have a lot of clients, so the need is definitely there within this community.”

Maintaining self-sufficiency

Ruiz said the Salvation Army primarily sustains itself through local resources.

“We do receive help from our headquarters, but they are really encouraging us to be self-sufficient,” Ruiz maintained. “We are really working toward that and that’s one of our goals. We want to let the community know that we are here and this is how we are helping. We encourage the community to help support us.”

Salvation Army programs are led by Salvation Army officers.

Those officers are responsible to lead by assessing needs, delivering programs and directing ministries for the local community.

From serving food to balancing the books, the officers function as the executive directors and the pastors for the Pahrump Corps.

On the road again

Ruiz also said traveling is a big part of the positions.

“We never know how long we will remain in a particular community until our term is up,” she said. “They don’t tell us whether we are here for one or two or three years. We are going to work here like we will be here for at least five years. We have served in many places such as Caldwell, Idaho; Portland, Oregon; Burbank and Santa Monica, California, as well as Colorado, and now we are in Pahrump, Nevada.”

Youth-oriented event

Additionally, Ruiz, said the facility is hosting the upcoming “Submerged” Vacation Bible School event, beginning July 17 through the 23rd, from 5-to-8 p.m., for kids ages four and up.

The event includes crafts, music, missions and recreation, along with a meal each evening.

The children will be challenged to “search for truth beneath the surface.”

Ruiz also noted that she hopes to begin an after-school program for area youth when classes resume later this year.

“We would go pick them up and bring them here to the Salvation Army,” Ruiz said. “We will feed them, offer homework help and organize various activities. We have a very nice playground in the back and a large activity room as well as a game room. The kids will be able to break out into different activities.

“They can either play outside or inside the game room or even do arts and crafts if they choose,” Ruiz said. “This is designed for elementary school kids from first grade to the fifth grade. If your kids are in that age group and you also have older kids, they would be able to help out as volunteers. They will be like teaching assistants.”

Seeking additional recruits/leisure time

The need for volunteers for to help staff the organization is crucial, Ruiz said.

“We need adult volunteers to help cook on Sundays,” she said. “We receive food every day and we need help from volunteers with that task. The size of our Sunday services is about 40-to-50 people, and we provide services to hundreds of people in the community each month.”

During their leisure time, the Ruiz’s enjoy spending time outdoors.

“I really like the land out here,” she said. “We have a garden in our backyard and flowers have since started growing,” she said. “We have really good soil and whenever you see rose bushes out here, they are just flourishing and I am loving that because I love flowers.”

This year the Ruiz’s will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.

The couple has two daughters, the youngest is an elementary school student, while the oldest is studying in college.

For additional information about Pahrump’s Salvation Army regarding services or volunteering, call 775-751-6181.

The facility is at 721 Buol Road, just off of Wilson Road.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com, on Twitter: @pvtimes