Enedina Angelini, 52, has served the Salvation Army for 27 years and counting. Starting as a volunteer, she became a paid employee with the organization at the start of the pandemic. First she was filling in for someone on vacation, but when the time was up she couldn’t find it in her to leave, so she stayed on as a volunteer to assist the bare bones staff that had dwindled at the start of COVID-19, with daily needs. After a few months, she applied to be the office manager and eventually became the volunteer coordinator, which is the title she holds today. “They’re all just titles on paper,” Enedina says. “Ultimately what lines the heart from serving, it comes from God and if we’re going to serve the way Jesus served, it’s not about your title it’s just about doing what is the right thing to do.”
Today, Enedina is the face of the Stockton Corps.—the first person you see when you walk through the door and the first voice you hear if you call the office. “It’s the least I can do, it’s a reasonable service,” she says of her position, which encompasses coordinating volunteers, working face-to-face with the community in need, and putting in hours at the pantry (that feeds both families and individuals as well as the homeless population). For anyone who needs help, whether it be food to get them to the next paycheck, rental assistance, or more long-term care, Enedina works with community members to get them the help they need. And during a global pandemic, she’s seen that need increase, as well as the range of community members the Salvation Army serves widen.
The best part about Enedina’s job, however, is that it doesn’t feel like a job at all. “It’s what we get to do,” she says. The emphasis is on “get to.” For Enedina, who spent 34 years in postal work before switching careers, she says working with the organization is as natural as waking up and taking a breath. “It really is just second nature to me.” Growing up a practicing Catholic with strong ties to the church, she has always been a servant to God. “I am a soldier in the Salvation Army and ultimately that comes from being a servant of God and serving my lord Jesus Christ,” she says. And it’s not just doing the work that’s important, it’s doing it with a smile. Extending compassion, lending an ear to those struggling, practicing equality and treating everyone who comes into the office the same, that’s what helps people. Without those qualities, Enedina says the work would be useless in helping others.
The other people who come to the Salvation Army door in Stockton aren’t there asking for help, they are there to offer it. Whether they have the time and desire to serve or were court-appointed to complete community service, Enedina says they are invaluable to the mission. With only three employees, staff needs the help and without volunteers assembling bags in the pantry and ringing bells at the kettle during the holidays, the Salvation Army wouldn’t be able to serve the population it does.
For anyone in Stockton struggling to make ends meet, Enedina urges them to visit the Salvation Army, where the focus is on giving a hand-up, not a hand-out (although patrons are essentially receiving both). Don’t let pride get in the way, she warns. “Come as you are.” And even if you don’t know how the Salvation Army can help, Enedina says to still come. If the services offered by the organization don’t serve you, Enedina and the rest of the staff make it their mission to connect you with someone who can help. That’s because when a neighbor is in need, Enedina says she can’t walk away without doing something, and she believes that is the sentiment that most people carry in their hearts. “People need to know that we’re serious about what we’re doing,” she says. “It’s all driven from love.”
Salvation Army Stockton Corps.
1305 E. Weber Ave., Stockton