HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - After their campus was destroyed in January, the Salvation Army is adjusting to a new normal, and the directors are preparing for a new baby.
Captains Stacey Connelly and Patrick Connelly, corps officers for the Hattiesburg Salvation Army, are expecting a baby girl, Katie Beth, to arrive on May 5. Community members and Salvation Army staff, employees and volunteers pooled money and donations to throw the couple a baby shower.
"It's overwhelming," Stacey said. "It's a nice break for all of us because everything has been has been in disarray, and we've had to find a new normal. So just to be able to step away from the devastation that we work in everyday and just get together as a family because that's what we are."
Wesley Manor and Newk's donated the venue and food, and employees got together to purchase gifts.
"We saw on social media that they were looking for a low-cost venue, so we were happy to donate at no cost our facility," said Kayla Garraway, social director at Wesley Manor. "We have had several new residents come in that were misplaced by the tornado, so it's nice to be able to help someone else out that was affected."
Patrick said he's grateful to be thought of, but it is strange to be the ones in need.
"It's a unique position for us to be in because the Salvation Army, we're used to being there to help people," he said. "The shoe is on the other foot. It's an interesting position for us to be in. Kind of an awkward one at some times, but, certainly, we get to see the benefit and the reward of the work that people have done before us. So that's encouraging."
He said once construction starts, it should take six to nine months to repair the Salvation Army's buildings, and contractors hope the non-profit is back in its permanent home by October 1.
"We now have our office facilities in a temporary trailer," Patrick said. "Essentially, we're in a double wide with 11 offices. It's sitting in the parking lot of our thrift store, so we won't be hard to find. It's unique. It's interesting. It's a whole new experience, and we're all getting very close to each other in ways that we weren't before in the other building."
Stacey said the baby shower was a nice relief for her family and for everyone who works with the Salvation Army.
"It's a really nice event, and it's just fun just to get away from the chaos of the day-to-day grind," she said.