Welcoming the O’Neil’s to Fargo: New Couple Leading Salvation Army
They were in Minneapolis that past four years
FARGO, N.D. — After 32 years with the Salvation Army, a number of them in Fargo, Majors Byron and Elaine Medlock have officially passed on the torch to another couple.
KVRR’s Danielle Church spoke to them about taking over and what they’ll focus on in their time here.
Jerry O’Neil was born and raised in Minneapolis, which is why he knows just how brutal winters up north can be.
His wife Vangie on the other hand, does not. She’s from Kansas City, and it’s why she’s not ready to embrace her first Fargo winter.
“I’m never ready for winter but my husband loves it. So as long as he starts my car for me, we’ll be fine,” Vangie said.
Even if he doesn’t rev up that engine for his wife, the O’Neil’s are here to stay. They are now in charge of Fargo’s Salvation Army.
“This Salvation Army is fabulous,” Jerry said. “They’ve got a great team, great volunteers, great support from the community, so our challenge is to find out what kinds of things are already going on that should continue and what kinds of new opportunities might exist.”
The couple has served at Salvation Army’s all over the Midwest including Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.
Before coming to Fargo, they were in Minneapolis, where they led the adult rehabilitation center at the Salvation Army centers there.
Now that they’ve said goodbye to the Twin Cities and hello to Fargo, they’re hoping to do a few similar things like working to break the cycle of addiction, homelessness and hunger.
“I’m really excited to jump into the social services and see what it is that we’re doing and how we can better and not just help people one time but to bring people to the next level, to break the cycle,” Vangie said.
Part of that includes opening their arms to everyone in the community.
“Anybody is welcome to come in for food, or for utility assistance or for a worship service. Whatever it is that they need help with, we want anyone to feel welcome,” Jerry said.
Although the two have been in town for a few weeks, they say they feel just as welcomed because of the first few bites of food.
“I had the most amazing chicken and wild rice soup a couple of weeks ago. It was incredible. I’ve never had anything that good. Looking forward to that. My wife and I are constantly into food as you can tell,” Jerry said.
Whether you see the couple around town hitting up all the restaurants they still have left to try or making their mark on Fargo’s Salvation Army, they’re sure to be wearing multiple hats.
“We are a pastor, a social worker, a case worker, a janitor, a driver, whatever needs to be done,” Jerry said.
The O’Neil’s have been married for 25 years.
They met while working for the Salvation Army.