Richard Reuer began volunteering at the Salvation Army in Minot in 1965 as a teenager, beginning with janitorial work. He has continued to volunteer and work at Salvation Army sites across the country in Illinois, Washington, Arizona, California and North Dakota throughout his lifetime. His last appointment was in Cathedral City, Calif., where he served as a major.
"When I first started volunteering as a teenager, I spent most of my time down there at the Salvation Army. My parents threatened to move my bed down there because I was always there," Reuer said.
"I like working with the Salvation Army because I get to meet different families and try to be a friend, to not look down on them or judge them because of where they are in their lives. They have an understanding that the Salvation Army is there to provide a service," he added.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN •
Richard Reuer, longtime officer and volunteer for the Salvation Army, stands near the Salvation Army’s Christmas tree.
Currently, Reuer still volunteers part time at the Salvation Army and works at a drug and alcohol treatment program, Brooklyn Flats in Minot. He cut back his Salvation Army volunteering hours after getting the job.
"It's always been my dream since I was 19 to work for a drug and alcohol treatment program, ever since I first worked with the Salvation Army's men's social program in Fargo," Reuer said.
At the time he was in Fargo, Reuer was preparing to attend officer's training for people interested in becoming Salvation Army officers. He began attending school in 1971 and graduated in 1973, and was later stationed in different locations.
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"My greatest adventure was when I was with the Harbor Light program in San Francisco. We developed a program where we went out on Saturday nights, and passed out soup and sandwiches in a rough area of San Francisco that was full of the homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics," he said.
"The Harbor Light folks there, we were learning how to give back to the community and being able to talk to people on the street about getting into a treatment program," he added.
Reuer fondly recalled another highlight experience when he was stationed in Phoenix and involved with a Salvation Army family services program. One of the women in the program was in labor and alone, and she asked Reuer to stay with her throughout the delivery.
"I was honored that she requested my presence, I didn't know what to say. I coached her all the way through the delivery, and she was very grateful," he said.
Reuer's favorite Christmas experience occurred in Bremerton, Wash. A woman involved with the Special Olympics wrote a Christmas letter to the president, requesting a western shirt for her father and a CD player for herself. The letter was forwarded on to the Salvation Army in her community.
"I had the opportunity to go to the young lady's house and tell her I was there on behalf of the president and the Salvation Army. I went out to shop for a shirt for her father and a CD player for her. That's one of my favorite Christmas stories," Reuer said.
Throughout all of his experiences, Reuer has enjoyed introducing families to the Salvation Army.
"I like seeing new families come in, and seeing them eventually deciding to get more involved with the Salvation Army. Sometimes they want to give back what they have received," Reuer said.
"Once in awhile we'll have a family that had some troubles, either job related or financial related, and once they get back on their feet, they then decide to help out and volunteer where they can," he added.
Reuer's work at Minot's Salvation Army continues. He volunteers time working in the food pantry, delivering pizzas to Second Story and bread to the Salvation Army thrift store, and working with the Friday evening youth program.