How to Build a Women’s Auxiliary
By: Laura Poff
When Major Melody Davis arrived in Greenville, South Carolina, in 2012, she initially thought that the corps, which had recently become a Kroc center, would benefit from the help of a women’s auxiliary. Not knowing anyone in the community she had only just joined, she started a small annual fundraiser that grew into an active auxiliary with 80 members, strong leadership and a passion for The Salvation Army.
Davis, who had previously served in several corps appointments, had never had an auxiliary before. She had considered starting one in her previous appointment in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but had been moved before she could get a program going. To get to work in Greenville, she planned a women’s fundraising brunch, inviting local women who had donated to the Kroc center in the past. Thirty women showed up for the first year, raising funds to construct a playground at the women and children’s shelter. The following year, they held the same fundraiser, encouraging women to bring friends. Sixty women came, raising enough funds to finance renovations at the shelter, including new furnishings and an updated look.
“At the event, I said we could continue to do this annual event or we could start a women’s auxiliary that would support The Salvation Army all year long,” Major Davis said.
She told the group that if anyone was interested, they should contact her. A few months later, someone did. She met with Major Davis to discuss the possibility of starting an auxiliary. By the end of the meeting, she had agreed to be its first president and form the executive committee.
Over the years, the auxiliary has hosted many fundraisers, focusing most of its efforts on the shelter but supporting other programs as well.
They participated in the Battle of the Bells, an annual kettle competition, and came in first place, and have supported other local initiatives as well.
“I wouldn’t have done this without that one woman,” Major Davis said. “You have to have women who have ties to the community who know other women they can invite.”
She said that many corps have a hard time getting auxiliaries going because it takes time to form the necessary relationships with local women.
“It’s hard to find women in the community who have the time to dedicate who aren’t already involved in something else,” she said. “You have to have somebody who will help you share your story.”
On May 26, the auxiliary hosted its fourth annual Paint the Town Red fundraiser, the same annual event that started the program.
“The women’s auxiliary had been a great asset and I’m so proud of everything they have done,” Major Davis said. “It can be a wonderful group that can help you do things you would only dream of doing but you have to get the right women to help you do it.”