As community relations and special events coordinator for the Salvation Army of El Paso County, Mary Whatcott handles all the local marketing efforts, public relations and events planning. She is 23 and has a bachelor’s in nonprofit leadership and management from Arizona State University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. She is a certified nonprofit professional by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. She is also learning Spanish.
Tell us about the Salvation Army here.
For 126 years, The Salvation Army of the Pikes Peak Region has been a leader in providing a wide variety of human services to the disadvantaged of Colorado Springs. From the daily soup run, transitional housing programs, social services emergency assistance, emergency dis-
aster services and low-cost child care to running the only 24/7 homeless shelter in the city, The Salvation Army has grown to become one of the largest and most comprehensive service providers to the under-served and impoverished of our local community. It has been an honor to serve as an extension of the community to improve the lives of all people in our area. The Salvation Army in Colorado Springs lives up to its slogan by truly “Doing the Most Good” with the amount of resources provided.
What are the events you put on every year?
We have three main special events. In the spring, we have a community awareness event and invite supporters and community leaders to the R.J. Montgomery Shelter for a barbecue with our clients, to highlight the homelessness issue in Colorado Springs. Every August, we partner with Colorado Springs Utilities and have a back-to-school shopping spree at the Sears at Chapel Hills Mall. We take 100 underprivileged children shopping for new clothing for the school year. It is great to see the smile on their faces while the kids are picking out multiple “cool outfits” to wear. We want to make sure that nothing is standing in the way of them focusing on their education, so they are also given a backpack filled with school supplies.
In November, we have our Red Kettle Kickoff Breakfast, a fundraising event that kicks off our Red Kettle bell-ringing season. All the money raised during the holiday season supports our programs and services for the upcoming year.
We also host a community-wide dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day serving 3,000-5,000 meals. All are welcome.
What brought you to Colorado Springs?
I was born and raised in Northern California, then moved to Arizona to attend college. I moved to Colorado Springs in 2011 because my husband was transferred to Fort Carson. We were stationed in Italy prior to moving here. Even though he has now separated from the U.S. Army, we absolutely love Colorado and plan on retiring here.
What do you like most about being a young professional in Colorado Springs?
I love that Colorado Springs is a large city with a small-town feel. Even though I am new to the business community, I have already met some exciting people and made wonderful connections. It seems as if everyone is connected to each other, which really allows for a strong community to flourish.
Have you ever rung the bell?
Unfortunately, I have not! I am fairly new to the organization, so I am looking forward to participating this holiday season and for many more to come. Ringing the bell is a great way for all ages to spread Christmas joy while giving back to the community. By the way, did you know that the Christmas carol “Silver Bells” was inspired by The Salvation Army volunteer bell-ringers?
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to spend time with my husband outdoors hiking, fishing, camping and skiing. I love to travel and explore new places, do yoga and take my Rottweiler pup to the bark park.