Timaru’s Salvation Army Corps officers Jacob and Emma Howan will take away more than most from their time in Timaru.
Along with the memories of their three years in the town, the couple will be leaving with daughter Kate, the first baby to be born to corps officers in Timaru in decades.
The Howans have accepted a new posting and expect to move early in January to take up their new role as corps officers in Blenheim.
The role will be similar to that in Timaru, although with the addition of social housing, and Emma will also have a workplace chaplaincy role at Hospice Marlborough.
The couple came to Timaru in January 2017, and have seen steady increases in the need for the services offered by the Salvation Army.
“In our first year, there was a spike in demand for food parcels, and that levelled off at that spike, and we’re now seeing another spike already.”
The need for emergency housing had also increased, from one or two people a year needing help, to 20 or more.
A similar rapid increase in the demand for the addictions programme had also occurred. Once attracting 10 to 12 people each time, that number had jumped to 20-25, and since then, about 40 people on some courses.
“There can be an attitude that these are big city problems, but while they might not be as visible, they’re certainly here,” the Howans said.
“But equally, we have been blown away by the generosity of Timaru; when the needs present themselves, and we go out into the community, the response has been incredible.”
The couple say they have enjoyed their time in Timaru and it will always be a special place, as it is daughter Kate’s home.
They are happy with what they have achieved, although there is always more that could be done.
“There’s always going to be things that you would have liked to have done . I think it’s the nature of our role, you always feel like you could have been here a year or two longer. But that’s what we signed up for.”
Timaru’s new corps officers will be Captain Andrew and Envoy Lynda Bright, who will move to South Canterbury from Wellington.