VanNessa“My grandmother rang bells for The Salvation Army,” VanNessa Jemmott explains, “and I would have to sit there.” Jemmott rolls her eyes and laughs at the childhood memory.

Decades later, VanNessa found herself at a crossroads in her own life, asking, “Do you want to keep going around in the same circles? Being angry, hostile. There were some things I had to let go of...drinking, smoking.”

A victim of abuse who self-medicated with alcohol, VanNessa began her journey to wholeness in a familiar place. Seven Christmases ago, she began ringing the bell like her grandmother—every winter, “like clockwork,” says Major Gregory Norman. “VanNessa is a red kettle superstar in my book. She’s a special bell ringer, committed to that early morning commuter shift.”

But she kept declining invitations to attend a worship service at The Salvation Army . . . until last year. “I think everyone can use salvation,” she says, “but it’s for them to choose. Wherever you are in your journey, you can walk through these doors.”

Now Jemmott works year-round in the after-school program. “We’re very proud of her,” beams Norman. “To see VanNessa here, day in and day out sharing God’s love with the children in our after-school program, that’s what our mission is all about.”