Celebrated Salvation Army case manager retires

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Salvation Army is losing a beacon to retirement. But first, the people whose lives she’s influenced want to share her story.

The meaning of hope stretches far beyond the Salvation Army’s sign. This Salvation Army building is engraved in incredible stories.

“I did drugs pregnant with all of my kids except for my oldest daughter,” said Cameka Bradford, a former client of Perry’s. “I had drugs on me when I came. I had a crack pipe, and I had two crack rocks on me, and I went in the bathroom to attempt and smoke some, and one of my kids knocked on the door, and I couldn’t do it.”

The Purdue Center of Hope provides residential programs for addicted women and their children.

Running this powerful place is a powerful team, and if you ask the residents here, there’s one person on that team who is unforgettable. 

That person is Mrs. Roberta Perry.

You certainly don’t have to know her to love her.

“Everything we do we do as a team, so I really can’t take all of the credit. I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Perry said. “How does somebody single you out of a whole building that lives here?”

She doesn’t take any mess, but behind the sass is structure and a huge heart that connects with every person here.

“It takes wanting to see the need, you know? And wanting to make a difference,” Perry said.

Her love for the women and children is clear. As a case manager, she’s provided childcare and summer camp for hundreds of underprivileged kids.

And after spending so much time enriching the lives of others, she’s retiring.

“It’s effecting the ladies, and they’re getting really upset so I can’t even imagine it right now,” said current employee Stacie Glover. “Because it’s like, I don’t know who can do it.”

Some of these kids have never been shopping or even to the pool. Those are small gestures given and recognized by Perry. 

“Sometimes we don’t have to know how deep it is if we do exactly what we are supposed to do, and that’s everything we can to make a difference,” Perry said.

The key to Perry’s secret is optimism, compassion and strength. Her motto is never look at yourself as “better”, only “as good as.”

Perry has been married to her husband for 51 years. She’s looking forward to spending more time together during her retirement.

There will be a drive-thru celebration on September 25 from 3 pm -5 pm, outside the Center of Hope. Anyone who has been impacted by her is encouraged to stop by.

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