Salvation Army Helps Build -- And Rebuild -- Lives

Rob Hart
December 07, 2018 - 5:00 am

Salvation Army Metropolitan Division

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Some people spend their entire life with the Salvation Army. 

WBBM's Rob Hart talks to someone who has been around the organization for several years.

You might call Julio Romero a Salvation Army “lifer.”

"I've been with them since I was 5-years old," Romero said.

He grew up in the Lakeview neighborhood on the Northwest Side and got into the Salvation Army through their summer programs for kids.

"It was like vacation bible school, and music camps, and sports camps - things along those lines, and then after that, they introduced us to music programs that they offered for free for kids in the community," he said.

Romero said the summer programs kept the kids away from the temptations of the streets.

"With their programs and being dedicated to the kids that we wouldn't fall into those situations, either with gangs of drugs," he said.

That was 27 years ago. 

In high school, he fell in with a bad crowd, he said, hanging out with gangs and dealing drugs.

RELATED: WBBM Newsradio's Good Neighbor Radiothon | Salvation Army Helps Convicted Felons Through Community Service Work | Salvation Army Helps More Than Just People In Poverty

He returned to the Salvation Army after a brief stint in jail. He said the organization has helped him get his life back on track.

Now he's an information technology administrator for the Salvation Army's headquarters at Pulaski and Foster, where they run everything from tech support for social service programs to audio visual presentations.

"We make sure everything is up and running," he said.

Romero said he likes the opportunity to pay it forward, to help others. 

"It feels like home," he said. "Especially if you are going through some things in life. They are always there for you."

His favorite part of the Salvation Army experience?

“The bell-ringing,” he said, laughing. “I was raised on the bell ringing, ever since I was a little kid.”

Friday marks WBBM Newsradio's 23rd Annual Good Neighbor Radiothon that raises money for The Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club. The event runs 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. To donate to the Salvation Army, visit WBBM Newsradio's Good Neighbor Radiothon donation page or call 844-361-8400.