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Man gives back to Salvation Army

May 22, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Larry Miller grew up in Hagerstown's West End, the son of a single mother with four children and limited resources.

"It was the playground behind The Salvation Army building that was a big draw for me as a kid," Miller said. "And they had after-school programs there, too."

The Salvation Army's reputation was that the 534 W. Franklin St. complex/playground was a safe place for kids, Miller said. Children knew it, and parents did, too.

But what was fun and free for him became first a lifeline for his mother, who benefited from the social service work done by The Salvation Army.

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"We were recipients of food from here," Miller said.

As an adult, Miller again looked toward The Salvation Army - this time for inner peace at the urging of his grandmother.

One day, Miller saw an open-air meeting and wondered why such a thing was being done.

"I was searching for meaning in my life. The Holy Spirit called me to service here when I was 29," Miller said. "I went over and made a commitment to rededicate my life to Jesus Christ."

Miller, 49, has been an active and loyal volunteer for more than 20 years. He and his wife, Amy, are also active members of the church.

He said that over the years his spiritual life grew, and he owes it all to The Salvation Army and the people he has met there. While he has worked in every area, Miller said he is especially devoted to youth mentoring, since it made such a difference in his life.

"I want to give back to the kids what I got from The Salvation Army," Miller said. "I see younger versions of my life coming in here."

When he can, Miller also likes to go on mission trips. He has been to Louisiana and West Virginia, and plans to head off again, to wherever there is a need.

Miller's wife is assistant manager of The Salvation Army thrift shop on Frederick Street. They have three daughters, two of whom attend church with them, along with all three of the Millers' grandchildren.

Helene Hart, Miller's sister, is the supervisor of Midday Manna, the free feeding program in Hagerstown. Another sister is a volunteer in Hanover, Pa.

Miller works for the Maryland Division of Correction.

"As a volunteer, I was commissioned as a sergeant major in 1991," Miller said.

National Salvation Army Week was May 14 to 20, and an open house was held each day at the Hagerstown location.

"I learned to love people here," Miller said.

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