“We moved here two weeks ago and had a week off, which was nice and gave us a little time to get out and learn some things about where we are,” Michael Cox said at the end of last week.
“Already, we love the atmosphere of Johnson City. Every store, every restaurant, everywhere we’ve been, people have been so courteous, so nice and so eager to help us.
“We started on (June 23) and we’re still in the process of getting to know the staff and learning all the things the Salvation Army does in this community so that we can continue all of that and figure out how we grow that on into the future.”
Arriving here in the midst of a heated city budget debate, Michael Cox said they have already become aware of the need in community as well.
“We’ve been here two weeks and we’re already aware of the financial struggles in Johnson City. The city, the schools ... people like us. We’re losing $32,000 (in city appropriations). It seems everyone is struggling ... and we’re aware that is also happening in families.”
Now in their eighth year as corps commanders, the Johnson City Salvation Army is the fourth corps the couple have led.
Coming here from the small community of Orange, Texas, where they served for three years, the Coxes have also led the Salvation Army’s work in of two of the largest cities in the nation, Houston and Fort Worth, Texas.
Now within a few hours drive of both Laura’s hometown of Mount Airy, N.C., and Columbia, S.C., where Michael grew up and several members of his three-generation Salvation Army family still live, they say their hope is to stay on in Johnson City until all three of their sons have finished high school.
Their youngest, Tyler, will begin eighth grade at Liberty Bell in August. Thomas will be a freshman this year at Science Hill. And their eldest, Sean, will start college here in the fall, although they are not yet sure just where.
The Coxes say they have also been warmly welcomed by the Salvation Army staff and congregation and can sense the corps’ excitement to have them here.
“We want the community to know us, as well. We want to invite people to stop in and shake hands.”
Looking a little farther into the future, Michael Cox said, “We’re already thinking Christmas.”
The Johnson City Salvation Army is headquartered at 204 W. Walnut St.