Bradenton Salvation Army gets ready for Thanksiving Day

vmannix@bradenton.comNovember 19, 2012 

BRADENTON -- With a serious looking chef knife in one hand and a boning knife in the other, Salvation Army Maj. Dwayne Durham was ready for business.

The business of cutting up turkey.

"Grab a leg and there you go," instructed kitchen manager Brian Schultz.

Durham sliced, diced and chopped away.

White meat in one tray; dark in the other.

"My wife has plenty of experience at this," he joked.

"You're doing all right," Schultz said.

They only had another 64 birds to go.

After having only 10 frozen turkeys on hand the week before, community generosity had filled the Army's kitchen with nearly 100. Plenty for Thanksgiving's annual holiday meal for the homeless and needy, an anticipated turnout between 500 to 800 people.

Just six months in his new posting, Durham has come to appreciate Bradenton's giving spirit.

"When you let people know about the need and they respond like this, it gives me a great feeling about our community," said the 46-year-old father of three.

His predecessor, Maj. Ethan Frizzell, had told him to expect that.

"He said, you will look forward to this because it's one of the great things about Bradenton," Durham said. "Thanksgiving is a time when people come together and care for our neighbors, thinking about what you are really thankful for. People recognize there are some who are who are without and the Salvation Army is helping them with a meal. They have a place to go to, a place to eat.

"Here at the Salvation Army we want to share our love for them and hope for the future."

Durham and his wife, Marion, led the Salvation Army's Panama City branch for five years. They relocated here in June, succeeding Frizzell and his wife, Sue, who are departed after one year. Frizzell was accepted at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government where he is pursuing a masters in public administration.

Thanksgiving in Bradenton will be a change for the Durham.

At their previous posting, a rescue mission hosted Thanksgiving for the homeless and needy.

"We would give families a box to take home," he said. "Where I've been we haven't had the large event it is here in terms of a big day of coming together. This is something wonderful for the community to participate in."

Their Panama City ministry primarily included church services, child day care and a safe house for domestic violence victims with counseling for families.

It also included a transitional housing program, something Frizzell had preliminary plans for on the Army's 14th Street West property.

Durham hopes to pick up where his predecessor left off but is aware of its challenges.

"There's a process and we're on board with it," he said. "All those hurdles we have to jump, we're working on. We have seen during surveys and there is very much a need. The question is -- is it something the community can get behind and support?"

Meantime, there was Thanksgiving to get ready for.

"We look forward to it," Durham said.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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