Working Today: Salvation Army case manager provides family services to community

Karen Eagleson poses for a photo at her desk at Johnson County Salvation Army Family Services.

Karen Eagleson, Salvation Army case manager and Social Services coordinator, has volunteered for the Salvation Army since 1993 and in early November, became an employee at Johnson County Salvation Army Family Services.

Whether it’s volunteering or working for Salvation Army, Eagleson said there’s one important skill one must have to do the job successfully.

“Heart,” Eagleson said. “You have to have heart.”

Salvation Army provides utility assistance, some rental assistance, clothing, blankets, hygiene products, food, medications, eyeglasses and works with other organizations in the county to provide other forms of assistance to those who need them.

Eagleson, along with Salvation Army volunteers, have been outside local storefronts such as Walmart, Bi-Lo Country Mart, Walgreens, Shoe Sensation and Cash Saver gathering funds through the annual Bell Ringing fundraiser, lasting from Nov. 24 to Dec. 21.

This is the Salvation Army’s only fundraiser, providing the organization with its only source of revenue for the services it provides throughout the year.

What would surprise people most to learn about your job?

“I don’t think a lot of people even realize what we do as far as family services within Salvation Army. I think that is the biggest surprise to people in the community, when they find out that there is a family service that is a part of Salvation Army that is not the store. Then they’re really surprised to find out all of the services that we do offer.”

What’s the most common question you get about what you do?

“Up until recently, I was simply a coordinator. I came in here and volunteered like everybody else. A lot of people thought I was a paid employee, which I haven’t been until recently. I’ve only been a payed employee for three weeks.”

What is the most challenging aspect for your job?

“Time. There’s never enough time. I would also love to organize volunteers so that we could be open five days a week. Currently, we’re only open two days a week and one half day on the second Saturday of each month.”

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?

“The most rewarding is the gratitude from the people who don’t expect anything. They walk in the door, not expecting anyone to help, and walk out of here with someone who has helped.”

Would 10-year-old you be surprised that you are in this position or field?

“No, I followed in my mom and dads’ footsteps. They were very giving people. They volunteered their time to various groups and organizations through the years. So I kind of just followed right into the field.”

What advice would you give someone starting a job similar to yours?

“Be passionate about what you do and why you’re doing it. Make sure you look at each person walking in the door as their own individual.”

Staff Writer Dustin Steinhoff can be reached by emailing dustin.steinhoff@dsjnow.com or by calling (660) 747-8123.

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