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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


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DeKalb's Salvation Army captain & red kettles

By Barry Schrader.................................December 8, 2009

Back when I was active in the Livemore Rotary Club out in California, I sometimes volunteered to ring the bell at supermarkets to help the Salvation Army’s holiday red kettle campaign.
I never really knew much about the group, other than it has a sharp-looking band that marches in the Rose Bowl Parade and it helps the downtrodden, those needing food and housing.
Then I met Capt. Michael Cho, the new head of the Salvation Army in DeKalb County and the pastor of their church on Grove Street in DeKalb. In one hour he explained much more about their Christian organization.
Cho just came here this summer from a suburban Chicago Salvation Army church, where he was assistant pastor. But his path to the ministry has taken him halfway around the world. He grew up in Pusan, South Korea, until age 18, when his family decided to emigrate to America, arriving in Chicago, where his aunt and other relatives had settled.
Cho finished high school at Glenbrook High and moved on to the University of Illinois, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. It was his intention to become a dentist, so he bided his time for two years, working for a bookstore and exporter until he was accepted at the U of I dental school in Chicago.

Salvation Army Captain Michael Cho stands at his pulpit in the Grove Street church in DeKalb

Meanwhile, his wife Alisha, who had trained as a nurse, spent her free time volunteering in nursing homes, where she ministered to the needs of the elderly. There she met a youth pastor who became a Salvation Army corps officer, and, thus, introduced her husband to their Christian outreach work. Cho was in his third year of dental school when he felt a calling to do something greater, and it involved God. So he made the decision to change his career path, and he and his wife went through the Salvation Army schooling. That same youth pastor became the senior pastor and his mentor at the suburban church where he began his ministry five years ago.
This past summer, Cho was given the opportunity to move up to senior pastor and corps officer for DeKalb County and accepted the challenge. He admitted to being hesitant about moving his family – his wife and two young daughters – to a smaller community in a more rural area after his entire life had been in million-plus population areas. Also, there was the fact he was a Korean-American and there weren’t many of his fellow emigrants in DeKalb County. But after only a few months, Cho said they have found this to be a very friendly and receptive place that has welcomed his family.
Cho has learned that the roles of a pastor and corps officer are many. He is not only heading a church congregation, but he has to deal with the overwhelming needs of families and individuals in distress. The Salvation Army operates a food pantry at the Grove Street location, which serves nearly 700 families per month. They also run an Emergency Assistance Program, which gave out $50,000 last year, helping people with rent, utilities, gas, temporary shelter for victims of fires and other crises. I also learned they have no connection to the Salvation Army Store on Sycamore Road.
And Cho has a new worry – the Salvation Army lost its biggest red kettle location this year because of a corporate change in policy at the tollway oasis. You know that dish or jar of loose change you probably have on your dresser or kitchen counter? Well, now would be a good time to put all that change in a bag and find one of the remaining nine red kettle locations to help the Salvation Army. If your bag is too heavy, you could deliver it to their church office at 830 Grove St. in DeKalb.

An online reader of this column traveling in faraway Texas was the first one to spot a typo in my beekeeper column last week. I intended to state there are about 30,000 bees in each colony, but one zero got dropped. Thanks to all those eagle eyes who noticed the discrepancy.

After seeing my Amelia Earhart column, another reader, Gay White of Waterman, informed me that in the “Eakle Family of Progress Corner” book there was mention of Amelia Earhart landing at the Waterman Airport sometime in the 1930s with another famed aviator of that era, Clarence Chamberlain. There is so much local history out there – much of it untold.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115