By Richard Karns AARP Chapter No. 2418 Publicity Director REED CITY \u2014 Members from the Chapter No. 2418 of the AARP heard about the Salvation Army during its meeting on May 10 at the United Methodist Church in Reed City. Guest speaker Salvation Army Development Director Chris Vallette shared the history of the organization, being founded in 1864 by William Booth. Located in 127 countries around the world, Vallette said the Salvation Army continues to meet its founding mission: To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination." Vallette, who works out of an office in Big Rapids, told members the local Salvation Army office serves Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo and Osceola counties, which are some of the poorest counties in the state. The service area is the largest by square miles in west central Michigan. Money from the organization's fundraisers remain in the four counties to be used to meet the needs of individuals in those areas, Vallette explained. He also explained several programs the Salvation Army has which provide assistance to residents of the service areas, including Tools for Schools, emergency rent and utility assistance, Fresh Start Baby Pantry, after-school community center, Angel Tree: Gift for Kids, Club 412-Youth Group, summer youth and teen camps, Pathway of Hope, adult rehab center in Grand Rapids, emergency disaster services, church services and men's and women's groups. Each of these programs, Vallette said, were developed to help individuals and families succeed. They are open to all ages. He told members it isn't uncommon for the Salvation Army office to receive phone calls from people in need who do not know where to turn. He said it is important for staff to determine where the person is at, how they got there and find ways to help them move forward. During a question-and-answer session, Vallette encouraged members to spread the word about the Salvation Army and the programs it offers. The Salvation Army office is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is located at 325 Linden St., Big Rapids. For more information, call the Salvation Army at (231) 796-5597. The program was a well-attended program, as Vallette spoke on issues supported by many members of Chapter 2418 of the AARP. The public is invited to learn more about the local chapter. It meets the second Wednesday of each month at the United Methodist Church in Reed City.