When Roberta Franco joined the Salvation Army of Mesquite in 2008, she had just one thing on her mind: ‘How can I help my community?’
In just two short years, Franco climbed the ladder and reached director in 2010. Since then, the program has taken off in Mesquite, providing much needed resources from weekly food for families in need to parenting classes, backpacks for kids and presents at Christmas for children of low-income families. Each year, the programs that Franco operated in Mesquite have grown immensely. But apparently that wasn’t enough for the regional offices in Las Vegas.
Franco’s last day at the Salvation Army will be Jan. 29. Until then, she will be training her successor, Capt. Lisa Smith on the processes and everyday business of the Mesquite office.
Cuts to the Mesquite office have already been set in place with Franco losing her receptionist towards the end of January and her case worker’s hours being cut to 25 hours per week. The remaining work that would need to be done was going to be on Franco’s shoulders and she just wasn’t okay with that.
“I tried to leverage my position to keep the girls in the office. It would make more sense to get rid of the top rather than the smaller positions, but they wouldn’t do it,” said Franco. “I don’t make decisions about the Salvation Army of Mesquite; I have to go along with what they decide.”
So for now, the Food Program will stay. As for the rest of the programs, it will be a ‘wait and see’ game with the existing programs in limbo.
“I just have more to give to Mesquite. I need a different avenue to do that,” said Franco.
Mesquite has never been the typical by-the-book Salvation Army operation since its arrival in 2000. According to Franco, the Salvation Army usually owns the buildings it occupies. Not once have they owned any of the properties in Mesquite that they have been in, including the old Heidi’s Cottage on Riverside Road, the old store on Hafen Lane or their current location inside the Brickyard Plaza.
Another unique aspect to Mesquite’s program is that none of the bell ringers during their Red Kettle Drive in November and December are paid ringers whereas all other branches across the United States pay their bell ringers.
“I still have to look at these people every day. I still care for them. I still have more to give to my community. I will still be an advocate for the community regardless of what lies ahead for me,” Franco said. “I will be building bigger and better things soon.”
“I will never stop working in Social Services. I live and breathe it. It’s what I enjoy. That’s where my degrees are. And I will continue to fight for the families of Mesquite wherever I can.”
[Editor’s note: For an official statement from Major Kelly Pontsler, Clark County Coordinator for The Salvation Army see accompanying article “Salvation Army Announces New Mesquite Interim Director in today’s MLN.]