By Seth Daniel
As Capts. Brenda and Isael Gonzalez walk through the streets of Chelsea, they said they have learned so many stories about the people who need help, and they said this week that after having got their feet under them here since July, they believe there is much they can do at their Salvation Army headquarters on Chestnut Street.
“Two weeks ago, we went out and walked through the streets talking and listening to people,” said Isael.”We had a training here for that and it was amazing the stories we came back with…There are great needs, but it’s a rich community. There’s a lot of need. I know working with youth is something I really enjoy and love.”
For Brenda, she said her hearts go out to the women who are caught up in prostitution in Chelsea, and that is a personal goal that she wants to work on – showing God’s love to those who might be caught in human trafficking or the circular world of drugs and prostitution.
“One thing I would really like to do is work with the women who are involved in prostitution,” she said. “I find many of them are crying out for help, but there’s no way to get out from that kind of life. I’m drawn to want to do anything and everything I can to help that problem in Chelsea…I have seen them whether they are trapped in a trafficking situation or on drugs, they’re crying out. I’ve seen that and I said, ‘I have to do something about this.’”
Isael and Brenda met outside of the Salvation Army and were married before taking up the full time ministry. They came to the Boston area from Waterbury, CT, but hail from New Jersey and have three children, ages 15, 10 and 4.
Both are Spanish speaking and have an intimate knowledge of what it is to immigrate to the United States, which they believe will help them here in Chelsea.
Isael came from Guatemala when he was 14, and Brenda came from Peru when she was 20.
Both got involved in the Salvation Army long before they entered the ministry.
“I’ve been involved a very, very long time,” said Isael. “As a minister, I’ve been working since 2008. Prior to Connecticut, we were in New Jersey.”
Said Brenda, “Church is really what first attracted me. To serve God, I really love that. The emphasis on social services was also very important to me.”
Both said they are gearing up for the annual Thanksgiving meal that is provided every year by local volunteers and by the Cheesecake Factory.
Beyond that, they said they are looking forward to connecting with their dedicated “bell ringers” for the Christmas season.
The headquarters is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Church services are 10 a.m. for Sunday School and 11 a.m. for services.