New Salvation Army leaders bring years of experience

Published 5:49 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

The Salvation Army’s mission of serving the physical and spiritual needs of the community continues uninterrupted in Port Arthur with the recent induction of captains Frankco and Martha Higdon.

Located on 25th Street, the organization they now lead fulfills many needs to many people in the city.

“We love to meet everyone in the community,” Martha said.

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“People think the Salvation Army is a social service, (but) we’re more than that,” Frankco said. “We’re a church first and the social service is an extension of that.”

“We’re non-discriminatory,” Martha said. “We help whoever.”

Martha and Frankco were moved over to the Port Arthur location at the end of June. Since then, they have been performing much the same job as they did in Orange — running the organization and ministering to its congregation.

The couple brings years of experience as leaders and a lifetime of dedication to the church and public service.

“We’re administrators here, but we’re also pastors,” Martha said. “Salvation Army calls them corps officers. That’s what we are.”

Among their regular duties, Martha and Frankco oversee the Boys and Girls Club, social services, food pantry, women’s fellowship programs and youth programs.

Martha was born in Princeton, West Virginia and Frankco was born in Lawton, Oklahoma. Both have lived and traveled throughout the country as a result of their work and their faith.

“I’ve lived in Hawaii, Virginia, Georgia and Texas,” Martha said.

She entered seminary school in 2002 and graduated two years later.

Frankco has lived in Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Illinois. He completed the two-year seminary school in 2001.

The two are married and have three daughters, who range in age from 2 to 11.

“All of them are full of life,” Martha said.

And their children are being introduced to the charitable organization in much the same way Martha and Frankco were as children.

“We were kids who lived about a mile from the pastor,” Martha said of her and her siblings. “They started picking us up for youth programs and church.”

Later on as a teenager, she took a sabbatical but came back for the familial aspect of the church.

“I wanted to be part of a family,” Martha said. “The Salvation Army is my church family.”

Frankco also became involved with the Army at a young age, entering its youth programs through his older sister.

Their arrival in Port Arthur has been something they both describe as good.

“It’s been a good fit,” Martha said. “We’ve really enjoyed our time here so far.”

On elucidating the difference between running organizations in Port Arthur and in their previous location in Orange, the two officers pointed out the cities’ respective sizes.

“It’s a bigger city,” Frankco said about Port Arthur.

“It’s a different mindset in the way people act and relate from one side of the bridge to the other,” Martha said.

Frankco said each city had its own characteristic that it brought to the forefront.

“Over in Orange, it was smaller… There are different ethnic groups over there,” he said. “Over here (Port Arthur) it’s more diverse because it’s a bigger city and a bigger city has more diversity.”

The couple also emphasized the break from tradition they have available to them in Port Arthur.

Martha said the Orange group tends to operate by the established history of its local organization.

“But here, they’re open to what’s new and modern,” Martha said of the Port Arthur location.

“The congregation doesn’t mind traditional or non-traditional here,” she said. “It’s not bad; it’s just the way the community is focused.”

In discussing some of the bigger life lessons they have learned through their years of service in the Salvation Army, both took a moment to consider.

“One of the hugest things I have learned is starting a capital campaign for building a transitional program for the homeless in central Texas,” Martha said. “It was a huge learning curve.”

According to her, seminary school barely covered the prep work needed for such a massive undertaking.

The transitional program in question provided housing and shelter to individuals in need while “helping them to stand on their own two feet” and “transitioning them to become productive citizens in the community.”

“It was a ‘B-HAG’ — a Big Holy Audacious Goal,” Martha said of the program.

For Frankco, his time with the Salvation Army taught him the value of community.

“One of the things I learned was that I can’t do everything by myself,” he said.

“There’s so much to do in our community that one non-profit can’t do it all,” Martha said.

As a result, Martha and Frankco have reached out to other programs in the area in order to better serve the community.

As for their initial plans in Port Arthur, the couple has decided to take a measured approach to how they tackle issues in the city.

“We have a wait-and-see approach,” Frankco said. “The usual rule is to see where we’re at. You take a step back and see how the community operates, and how to fit to each and every situation.”

“Instead of trying to change everything, you have to see how everything works,” Martha said. “Sometimes, you just need to tweak it.”