BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Bloomington’s Salvation Army works to overcome poverty, empower youth, and share God’s love.

The nonprofit highlighted one of its volunteers this week, Joseph Culpepper, who’s also our CI Hero.

“That sense of call – call to ministry – is to serve and help where I can,” said Culpepper.

Culpepper, a retired pastor, said making a difference in the lives of others has always been an internal call.

“By interacting with them in a personal way, you know, I’m not just seeing them as a statistic on a page or as somebody with all these terrible needs or something like that,” said Culpepper. “I see them as valuable people. Even though they do have a particular set of problems, we all have problems of various kinds. And we’re all children of God so we’re all valuable.”

Since 2005, Culpepper has volunteered with the Salvation Army. First at the Compassion Center then later at Safe Harbor Shelter.

Major Dan Leisher said from bell ringing, fan giveaways, and serving meals, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteers in McLean County.

“To serve with like the food pantry, or service here at Safe Harbor, and of course, we have volunteers who serve meals,” said Major Leisher.

Safe Harbor Shelter caters to single men and women. Residents can stay for eight weeks. It offers services like veteran benefits, parent training, mental health referrals, and more.

“It’s an opportunity to be of service in a concrete hands-on way,” said Culpepper. “To do something specific things for people but also it’s really a blessing to be able to build those relationships and to see that we’re all God’s children together and to see the value that they have in our community just as much as we have value.”

Nominate someone you know to be our next CI Hero!