Lending a hand: New Grass Valley Salvation Army director ready to serve the community | TheUnion.com

Lending a hand: New Grass Valley Salvation Army director ready to serve the community

Major Ray Yant

Major Ray Yant brings more than 20 years of experience as a Salvation Army officer to Grass Valley, where he's just taken over as director of the organization's local chapter.

Yant first worked in the Salvation Army's bike repair shop in Tucson, Arizona at age 16. As a bike technician, he helped raise money for the organization's nearby adult rehabilitation program. Four decades later, he was running that same program in Seattle, Washington.

It was those first years with Salvation Army — working in the bike shop and attending summer camp — that Yant said changed his life for the better. He'd had a "troubled youth," he said, and the camaraderie and Christian faith he found through the organization's programs helped set him on a better path.

Yant, who said he never dreamed of going to college during his childhood, attended the Salvation Army College for Officer Training in Southern California. Now an ordained minister with a decorated career as an officer, Yant has put his training to work all around the country.

“From cradle to grave, the Salvation Army is impacting people’s lives one day at a time.”

— Major Ray Yant

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With about a month working in Grass Valley under his belt, Yant was busy last week helping victims of the Lobo and McCourtney fires, which have displaced hundreds of Nevada County residents from their homes. Yant and the Salvation Army team set up mobile kitchens at evacuation centers, serving three meals a day to evacuees.

With both fires nearing 100 percent containment and all evacuation orders lifted, Yant is beginning to look ahead at the work he plans to do for the Grass Valley Salvation Army.

Christmas season is approaching, and Yant will soon work on mobilizing volunteers to ring bells and collect donations in front of local businesses — a Salvation Army tradition that helps provide toys and meals for families across the country.

Yant also plans to focus on finding permanent housing for families at the organization's Booth Center in Grass Valley, which provides temporary housing for homeless families for up to two years. He recently hired a new staff member who will communicate with local landlords to secure housing options for those families.

Yant also hopes to grow the congregation that attends Sunday service at the Salvation Army church. But most importantly, he said, he will make himself available to "meet the needs of the community."

"The Salvation Army is the best organization in the world because of the scope of the things we do," he said.

The organization, Yant said, strives to give help to anyone who asks for it.

"From cradle to grave, the Salvation Army is impacting people's lives one day at a time," he said. "I'm here to serve this community."

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.

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