The Salvation Army of Corpus Christi dedicates Sara & Dick Rathgeber Center of Hope

By: Sarah Munoz

Despite the clouds and moments of rain, there was an incredible attendance for the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony of he Salvation Army Sara & Dick Rathgeber Center of Hope in Corpus Christi on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Attendees included Mr. & Mrs. Rathgeber, Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo, Victory Building Team, Turner Ramirez Architects, territorial leaders Commissioners Willis and Barbara Howell, divisional leaders Lt. Colonels Ronnie and Sharon Raymer, and numerous donors and supporters from the community.

Mayor Guajardo took a moment to remind everyone the importance of working together.

“This is a historic day,” she said. “We don’t have to say it, we all know it! Sitting here this morning, remembering how it was just an empty field, and now, here we are. As Mayor of Corpus Christi, I am so proud to be a partner in this coming to fruition, because none of this happens without every single one of us coming together – we all bring something to the table. It is our responsibility to help those who need help, and I am 110 percent behind The Salvation Army, working together to help our city move forward with His grace and His will to guide us along the way.”

The Salvation Army is uniquely suited to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of men, women, children, and veterans who seek shelter. The programs help individuals focus on their needs and successfully transition from homelessness into a home of their own. Case managers work with every individual and family to make the necessary changes to get back on their feet.

“We’re going to step off script for one moment,” said Commissioner Willis Howell during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “I learned last night from our friends Captain and Lieutenant Gesner, how they have had the scissors hanging in their office for three years, looking forward to this day and praying over the work taking place here in Corpus Christi. My wife and I are happy to stand up here, beside you, but we aren’t cutting the ribbon – you are!”

From there, it was a beautiful moment as Captain Patrick Gesner and Lieutenant Laura Gesner, who lead The Salvation Army as corps officers in Corpus Christi, took the scissors and invited Mr. Rathgeber to join them in cutting the ribbon and officially opening the building.

“I’m here to thank you, the officers and staff, and all those who helped make this possible” said Mr. Dick Rathgeber, the donor for which the center is named. “I’ve been associated with The Salvation Army for about 40 years, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of officers throughout this time. I quickly learned how this is not just a job to you, it’s a commitment. Now I like to help people in need, and I want to thank you all for hanging in there during the ups and downs of getting the money for this project, but you stuck with it and I thank you.”

The Salvation Army’s ongoing shelter program in Corpus Christi will continue to meet human need in the Center for Hope, but at an even greater capacity. The new shelter is double the size of the existing facility, with 120 beds available for individuals and families, and 12 designated for Veterans. Those coming to the Center of Hope will receive shelter, food, and case management, with the goal of gaining self-sufficiency and long-term, secure housing.

Currently, an average of 12,000 meals, 700 hygiene products, and 200 baby products are provided each month. The Salvation Army anticipates the delivery of additional services, with the aim to positively impact more lives than ever before in Corpus Christi.