Not only do Jessica Sneed and her husband have new jobs as the executive directors of the Salvation Army in Glendale, but they also have a new baby.
Just two months before the duo took over for Rio and Rachel Ray, who transferred from their Glendale posts to take charge of Salvation Army youth camps in Alaska, Sneed gave birth to a baby boy.
But Sneed didn’t mind the shortened maternity leave.
“It’s my third time, I should have it down by now,” said the 31-year-old, who was excited to take the reins at the Glendale Salvation Army.
The Rays came aboard during a financially difficult time for the Christian nonprofit. It was 2008, the recession had hit and donations were low, but the need among Salvation Army clients was skyrocketing. The couple was able to ramp up fundraising efforts with new events to keep the nonprofit afloat.
Due to the solid foundation left by her predecessors, Sneed said she and her husband have a leg-up.
“It’s a dream assignment,” Sneed said. “A lot of places you step in there may be messes to clean up and here that’s not the case.”
The Sneeds, who are both lieutenants in a system run much like the U.S. Army, plan to continue the popular fundraising events kickstarted by the Rays. Hoop Heroes, the well-attended annual basketball game between the Glendale fire and police departments, and the Kettle Kickoff, a fundraising event that makes about as much as the Salvation Army collects through the red kettles they set up in the community throughout the Christmas season, will continue, Sneed said.
“That’s absolutely something we would not want to make any changes to,” she said.
Although they’re new on the job, the Sneeds already hosted a volunteer event recently in conjunction with the Glendale Kiwanis. Volunteers took 25 local children to Target and gave them each $80 to spend on school supplies and clothing.
Before coming to Glendale, Jessica and Josh Sneed worked at a Salvation Army in San Diego. Josh Sneed, 27, worked in the substance abuse recovery programs and Jessica Sneed worked in program leadership.
The two left their San Diego jobs to join the Salvation Army seminary. After graduating this year, the couple came to Glendale with their three children, Elijah, 9, Emily, 6, and Daniel, the two-month-old.
When the couple named Daniel, they gave him the middle name Renegade. While their other children also have middle names with special meanings, Daniel’s is the most unusual. The couple named him Renegade because in the Bible, Daniel rejects the culture that surrounds him to be faithful to God and renegades follow their own paths, too.
“It’s just kind of one of the values we hold, to stand up for the oppressed, to care for those who aren’t cared for and [to find] justice for the disenfranchised,” Jessica Sneed said.