Salvation Army captains Sergii and Tatiana Kachanov are cherishing the ‘peaceful atmosphere’ they have found since they moved to Williams Lake on Aug. 13, 2020.
“This is a beautiful town,” Sergii said. “It is very friendly, supportive, welcoming and kind. The air is absolutely very fresh with all the evergreen trees. I feel so healthy here.”
Originally from Europe, the Kachanovs were missionaries working with Eastern European immigrants in the United States when they decided to join the Salvation Army in 2003.
After enrolling in a Salvation Army college for officers, they trained for two years and graduated in 2006.
Their first assignment with the Salvation Army was in the Ukraine where they spent five years doing planning in two major cities.
In 2011 they were deployed to Canada and spent five years in Nanaimo and four in Surrey, where they worked mostly with refugees from war zones in the Middle East and predominantly from the Muslim community.
Sergii said their own life experiences helped them to connect with the refugees.
Comparing Williams Lake to Surrey, Tatiana said they are finding it less busy and less polluted here.
“We had no quiet time in Surrey,” she added.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Salvation Army to close its building for a few months and the number of clients using services decreased, in recent weeks numbers are increasing again.
To ensure physical distancing there are three different sittings for lunch at the soup kitchen.
When asked what attracted them to join the Salvation Army, Sergii said the strongest aspect of the organization is that it helps humans, in general and especially people who are vulnerable and in need.
While living the United States they saw many examples in shelters where Salvation Army personnel helped people who had lost everything.
By joining the Salvation Army Tatiana said they were able to explore different approaches and provide practical assistance.
Praising the staff and volunteers in Williams Lake, Tatiana said they are brilliant, dedicated and hardworking.
Agreeing, Sergii said they have a tremendous team of people who work as hard as possible.
“Despite the load of work, they come in smiling every morning,” Tatiana added.
The biggest challenge they can see so far is the need for more volunteers, as the number of volunteers has decreased substantially in recent months, mostly because of the pandemic.
Tatiana said if anyone can volunteer even two hours a week in the kitchen or at the thrift store it would be helpful.
In the thrift store there used to be 65 volunteers before COVID and now there are only 15.
Eyeing the future, Sergii and Tatiana said they hope to connect with more people.
“We will be happy to share our experiences and to gain new ideas from the community,” Sergii said. “Back in Nanaimo we had a group of believers from different denominations that shared the same vision.”
For leisure activity, Tatiana loves to sew, read and have quiet time, while Sergii enjoys sports. He used to play water polo, volleyball and basketball. Listening to classical music is also a favourite way to relax, he said.
Church services at the Salvation Army are on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
Cognizant that people might find his accent challenging to understand the words he is saying, Sergii said he uses a screen to project the text of his talks.
“People do not have an excuse because of my accent,” he said with a chuckle.
The Kachanovs replaced Lieutenants Dawn and Geoff Butt who relocated to Prince Rupert in August.