SUISUN CITY — Following the path God created for her and serving others has Catha Renfro making a difference for her community.
Renfro currently works as a case worker for The Salvation Army at the Vacaville family services office. She is getting ready to enter The Salvation Army Training College in August 2015.
She’s been with The Salvation Army for a little less than a year, and so far that change after 18 years working retail has helped Renfro make some big changes in her life. Those changes have then translated into her being able to better serve those who come to her for help, she said.
“It’s really taught me that everybody had a different story,” Renfro said. “Everybody you come in contact with, some people drive nice cars, or dress fancy – they may look the part, but they may have problems.”
She said The Salvation Army’s Christmas distribution of food, gifts and other items is a prime example.
“People come in driving nice cars,” she said. “But you have to get to know the person. You can’t just go on your first impression.”
That by itself provided a challenge for Renfro.
“It was a struggle for me growing up,” she said. ”I would just take people on the first impression.”
Now, she takes time to listen to the stories as people come to her for help.
“They need people to sit and listen – to just sit there and talk and lend that ear without any judgement,” Renfro said. “People come in to talk to me in my office, I give them some advice but also pray with them.”
While she’s only worked for The Salvation Army since last May, Renfro said she’s been attending church at the Kroc Center in Suisun City for about two years. In that time, she’s made a personal transformation. She’s not the only one to notice.
“She is an individual who I have watched over the last two years transform into a whole new person,” said Salvation Army Capt. Jonathan Harvey. “She was very reserved, very quiet. I have watched her come alive through her involvement with The Salvation Army.”
That was all part of a grander plan, Renfro said.
“God put it on my heart that I need to work for him, so this is just one mild stepping stone to go into full-time ministry,” she said. It’s all about serving others, she said. “That’s what I grew up doing as my parents influenced me.”
The plan is for Renfro and her fiance – they’ll be married by next year – to go into the training college together and become officers in The Salvation Army together.
It hasn’t been an easy path to this point for Renfro and there were challenges when she joined The Salvation Army.
“There were different personality challenges. At the Kroc Center there’s a lot of different personalities,” she said. That required some adjustments on her part. “Just being approachable by people. I’m a big person, people find me intimidating because of my size and my height. It was a challenge to overcome, to be more approachable for people.”
Now because she loves what she does, it makes it easier for her to be that person people can approach for help.
“I tend to smile more and I think that comes from the passion I have for the job that I do,” Renfro said. “Being surrounded by people that care and love what they do makes a huge difference in your own feeling about yourself, too.”
“She’s doing such a great job, not just providing food and utilities, but really caring about people,” Harvey said. “She’ll volunteer at any opportunity there is and for any need there is. She’s willing do do anything.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.