Tim and Janet Duperree’s Legacy of Salvation Army Leadership in Delaware
The Duperrees’ contribution to the local Salvation Army is more than just a drop in the bucket.
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“They worked very hard when they first came to learn everyone’s name,” says Geraldine Brown, accountant at the headquarters on Wilmington’s Orange Street. “That helped morale.”
That hasn’t always been the case in the past. “Some majors interacted with the department heads but not as much with the staff people,” says Kathy Gill, director of Children’s Services, who has been with the Salvation Army for 38 years. “But the Majors Duperree are excellent with all the staff.”
Weaned on a strong work ethic in “Punxsy,” the two directors aren’t afraid of physical labor. “They’re willing to do whatever it takes to get everything done,” says Marcus Brown, a part-time Salvation Army employee who helps with the toy warehouse. “The first day I met them, they went into the warehouse and cleaned. I was kind of shocked because a lot of times [officers don’t do that], but they rolled up their sleeves and dug in and got just as dirty as I did.
“They’re exceptional, easy to get along with. They have an open door policy and they don’t mind taking advice,” he says. Sounding slightly incredulous, he adds, “And they actually ask questions.”
Given their duties, the Duperrees no doubt have asked many questions. The programs they’re ultimately responsible for include: Emergency Shelter for Women and Children, Child Care, the Community Center, the Keep a Job program, Family Services, the Food Pantry, the Senior Center, four worship and service centers, Community Care Ministries (including VA and other hospitals), Prison Outreach, Disaster Services, and human resources for more than 100 employees.
One of their first tasks was to freshen up the 56-year-old headquarters at 400 N. Orange Street. Jan took a particular interest in brightening the hallways. She and her two youngest daughters—Katrina, 19, a student at Edinboro (Pennsylvania) University, and Alexis, 16, a junior at Wilmington Christian School—painted cartoon characters and motivational quotes on the walls.
Claire McElwee, vice chair of the board, calls the Duperrees “inspirational.” Noting the hallway artwork, she says the building is now “a more vibrant place.”
The Duperrees also have found time to work on their Salvation Army-owned home, a split-level brick located behind the Wawa on Philadelphia Pike near the Washington Street extension. They’ve torn up decades-old carpeting, sanded the floors and painted, and Jan got out her miter saw to replace baseboard molding in the 60-year-old, 1,950-square-foot house. They also planted a vegetable garden in the small back yard.
Salvation Army couples (officers can only be married to other officers) receive an average salary of about $28,000 (more than $100,000 less than similar positions in industry, according to CareerBliss, an online company that reviews salaries and job listings). The low pay, including slight raises for years of service, is supplemented with rent-free furnished housing and use of a car. Utilities and insurance are included, and officers get
allowances for child care, dry cleaning and uniforms. Furniture—which doesn’t include televisions—is replaced after a specified number of years. The result is a modest middle-class lifestyle. The downside is that officers are on call 24/7, and they can get “marching orders” (the actual term) to move every two or three years.