Beloit, Janesville Salvation Army units join forces

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Ryan Silvola/Beloit Daily News (From left): Major Tom McDowell and Captains Melinda and Jacob Tripp pose for a photo outside the Beloit Corps Salvation Army. The two corps are looking to form county-wide collaborations, which will include the merger of their two advisory boards.

BELOIT - The Salvation Army's Beloit and Janesville Corps are forming a county collaboration in order to streamline services at both locations.

Major Tom McDowell, of the Janesville Corps, said the two corps have been discussing combining efforts for the last 12 to 15 years, and the two corps finally started to gradually implement the partnership in 2018.

The last step will be the official merging the two corps' advisory boards, which likely will take place in June.

Captains Melinda and Jacob Tripp, of the Beloit Corps, say the two boards have already started to meet together.

"We're still doing all of what we're doing," Jacob Tripp said. "It's just having more resources to help us both."

The new name of the local organization is Salvation Army|Rock County, with the Beloit and Janesville Corps retaining their individual identities.

Melinda Tripp said the collaboration helps with cost-saving efforts, such as by having one contract with a vendor instead of two for each corps.

She said the Janesville Corps historically has had more staffing. Staff members, including a business administrator, social services manager, case manager and special events coordinator, now support both locations.

"Those positions covering the county have a wealth of knowledge about the entire county," Melinda Tripp said. "They're able to help both locations understand the dynamics of both communities."

This is especially helpful for the Tripps and McDowell, all of whom stepped into their roles last summer.

The Janesville Corps has 10 staff members, including Majors Tom and Julie McDowell. The Beloit Corps has one additional employee with full-time volunteers through the Wisconsin Senior Employment Program.

The Salvation Army Corps will host their first joint event, "The Others Luncheon," which is the organization's annual civic luncheon. The event is planned for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 1 at SC Aviation, 4120 South Discovery Drive, Janesville. The event will feature 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist John Landsteiner. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 608-757-8300.

Those utilizing the Salvation Army's services already have seen benefits. During the polar vortex, the Janesville Corps were able to shuttle people down to Beloit where the Tripps had set up an overnight shelter.

McDowell said the free meals offered at both locations is where they see a bulk of the people served. The Beloit Corps is serving an average of 50-60 meals per day, while the Janesville Corps is averaging 60-70 meals.

"It's also a place for socialization, where people can get out of their house and interact with people, make friendships and know people care about them," Jacob Tripp said.

In addition to meals, the Salvation Army also provides emergency assistance, offers referrals to other programs and more.

The Beloit Corps served about 4,500 unduplicated people last year, with a budget of about $350,000. The Janesville Corps has a budget of just over $1 million.

"We depend heavily on volunteers," McDowell said. "It's the way you take a pretty tight cash budget and expand the service by having lots of donated food and volunteers handling the food. Our services are expanded beyond what it looks like in cash."

Another way to get involved is to join the Salvation Army's Women's Auxiliary, which hosts various fundraisers and service projects throughout the year to benefit the organization. The group formerly represented Janesville, but is now representing Rock County as a whole and is looking for Beloit volunteers.

The group will be hosting the 2019 Flower Sale from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 8 and 9 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 10 at the Rock County Fairgrounds Blackhawk Building, 1301 Craig Ave., Janesville.

For more information, call Linda Lyons at 608-757-8300.

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