NEW BEDFORD - After 11 years leading the New Bedford branch of the Salvation Army, Major Gil Parkhurst is leaving. Parkhurst, his wife, and two sons, are being transferred to head up a Salvation Army branch in Pennsylvania, where Parkhurst's experience with the homeless community will be put to greater use.

"They have a facility for homeless men and homeless women, and then they have several townhouses for homeless families," said Parkhurst of his new assignment. "So when they were looking to see who they would put there, my wife and I have experience, prior to working here (in New Bedford), with homeless families. So that's one of the main reasons they've asked us to go."

Parkhurst says as he leaves, he wants people to remember that the people you see on the street are just that — people. He says many people who volunteer for the first time with the Salvation Army come away with a different point of view.

"They say 'I can't believe how grateful these people are for what they get," said Parkhurst to WBSM's Phil Paleologos. "But it's more than 'these people.' These are God's children. To be able to see them change changes us."

Parkhurst says he'll miss working with the people of New Bedford the most.

Parkhurst and his family will be leaving New Bedford on June 25. There will be a gathering to wish Parkhurst and his family well on June 24 after the 11 a.m. church service at the New Bedford Salvation Army at 619 Purchase Street.

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