For Rio and Rachel Ray, captains of the Salvation Army of Glendale, leaving the city will be like leaving family behind.
The two have been promoted to divisional youth secretaries in Anchorage, Alaska, where instead of running Glendale's Salvation Army shelters and food pantry, they will be in charge of camps and other youth programs.
About 100 people attended their send-off Thursday evening at the Salvation Army's office in Glendale.
“I've made so many friends here,” Rio Ray said. “Glendale has treated us like family.”
The duo was assigned to Glendale in 2008 at a time when the recession had hit and donations were low but the need among Salvation Army clients was skyrocketing.
Through several new fundraisers, the Rays catapulted the Salvation Army's fundraising efforts. They launched the Kettle Kickoff, an event that nets as much as the iconic Salvation Army red kettles do during the entire Christmas season — about $65,000 last year.
Another well-attended event, Hoop Heroes — an annual basketball game between the Glendale Police and Fire departments — began during the Rays’ tenure. The latest game took in about $7,000.
The Rays spent five years in Colorado before moving to Glendale. They hope to spend five years in Anchorage with their two sons, 10 and 7, before being moving on to another post in the nonprofit organization, which operates much like the military in terms of personnel assignments and ranks.
“They're very unpretentious. They're just down-to-earth people who are very well-loved by everybody,” said Dave Greenbaum, chairman of Glendale's Salvation Army Advisory Board.