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New Salvation Army commander eager to make community impact

By Angela Ward
July 2, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Major Ernest Lozano, the new commander of the Salvation Army post in Longview, is eager to get involved in the community, but first he made a quick sentimental journey on Monday.

"I'm taking a group of kids to to the Camp Hoblitzelle today," Lozano, 54, said. "It's the same camp where my wife and I met when we were teenagers."

The camp near Midlothian offers typical summer camp activities, like swimming, horseback riding and crafts, as well as daily Bible study.

"We met when I was a swimming instructor and she was a camper," he said. "She asked for help in improving her swimming. I later learned she was quite a good swimmer; she was just looking for a reason to spend more time with me."

Lozano's wife, Denise, is also a major with the Salvation Army and will be in charge of programs in Longview. The couple comes from Victoria, where they were stationed for six years. They have two adult children and one grandchild.

"The Salvation Army is moving toward letting post commanders stay for longer periods of time and become more integral parts of the communities they are serving," Lozano said. "Salvation Army officers used to get transferred every two or three years, but I've got a reasonable hope of staying in Longview until I retire."

Lozano said he's looking forward to his time in Longview and has been impressed by the way various nonprofit agencies in the community work together to meet the needs of the less fortunate residents of the area.

"I'm delighted beyond words to be here," Lozano said. "It's a beautiful part of the state, there's a great staff in place and everybody we've met has been incredibly welcoming."

Once the Lozanos get settled in, they will begin looking at renovating the Salvation Army homeless shelter, located at 519 E. Cotton St., he said.

The facility houses men, women and children and usually has between 50 and 75 residents. It has a place for families with children. Men and women, including married couples without children with them, are housed separately.

An evening meal is provided to the residents and food boxes are available to non-residents in need.

"We don't want to make cosmetic changes, but do some things that will make it a safer environment and allow us to better serve our clients," he said.

The agency may also open its doors as a cooling station, providing an air conditioned environment and cold water for people seeking to escape the heat, if temperatures in July and August once again reach record-breaking highs, he said.

"We have a ministry to meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of the members of our community," Lozano said. "With the grace of God and the help of others we'll be able to do that here in a way that really makes a difference in people's lives."

Proceeds from the Salvation Army Family Store, 518 E. Cotton St., support the social programs and shelter.



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