Salvation Army back in action in Williams in time for busy holiday season

The Cataract Creek Gang rings the bell for the Williams Salvation Army in front of Safeway during the 2014 holiday season.  Ryan Williams/WGCN

The Cataract Creek Gang rings the bell for the Williams Salvation Army in front of Safeway during the 2014 holiday season. Ryan Williams/WGCN

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Thanks to the generosity of local volunteers, the Salvation Army has returned to Williams. Patricia Helgeson is the new chairperson for the local program.

The Salvation Army provides emergency financial assistance to residents in need. The organization assists with payments for basic utilities like water, electric, propane and natural gas.

The Salvation Army operated for many years out of the Methodist Church in Williams but former chairperson Pat McShane retired from the position in the spring and the program was shut down.

"I had seen several announcements in the paper looking for an organizer," Helgeson said. "I kept hoping they would find someone."

Helgeson contacted the Coconino County Community Services board to see if they could help. They couldn't run the program, but offered their assistance.

The county agreed to house the program at the Williams Senior Center if a chairperson could be found.

Helgeson eventually stepped up to be the chairperson with assistance from Senior Center Director Dolores Paredes and Williams resident Michelle O'Sullivan.

Helgeson and O'Sullivan will be available two days per week at the Senior Center to process intakes and issue payments for shutdowns and past due notices. They also have a dedicated phone and messaging system that they will check daily. Paredes will also assist since she is at the Senior Center full-time.

"We have an organized structure at the Senior Center with Dolores now," Helgeson said.

She said she is happy to get the program up and running before the busy winter season. Helgeson said many calls for assistance come during the winter due to higher heating bills and lack of employment opportunities.

Residents with emergency utility payment needs can request assistance from the Salvation Army once per year. Funds are raised through the bell-ringing program.

For assistance with emergency needs, the Salvation Army can be reached at (928) 221-3557 or people can stop by the Williams Senior Center at 850 W. Grant Avenue.

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