Two years. Maybe three years, at a stretch. That’s the length of time that Salvation Army captains normally stay at one post.
Capts. Guy and Monica Nickum have been stationed at the Valdosta Salvation Army post for five years. They have led the Valdosta Salvation Army operations since June 2009.
Come this June, the Nickums will leave Valdosta.
They have been assigned to the LaGrange Salvation Army.
During their five years in Valdosta, the Nickums have opened a new thrift store on North Ashley Street.
The Valdosta Salvation Army is scheduled to be debt-free within weeks of their departure.
Monica Nickum streamlined the Empty Stocking Fund toy distribution effort, putting military efficiency into the Salvation Army’s annual efforts.
They have increased the number of children’s programs at the Salvation Army’s Troup Street location. The Sunbeam girls group has earned multiple gold awards. The Explorers have won a sliver award. Cub Scouts meet at the SA HQ.
The Nickums opened the site’s basketball courts to community men, giving them a positive way to spend their evenings. On basketball nights, approximately 40 men gather to play ball. Often, the men staying at the neighboring transit lodge join these basketball games.
Upon the Nickums’ Valdosta arrival, their twin sons, Anthony and Braden, had just turned 3 years old. This week, the boys celebrated their eighth birthday. Valdosta is the only place where the second-graders remember as home.
For two people who spent their childhoods then adult lives as missionaries, both Guy and Monica’s five years in Valdosta represents their longest stay anywhere during their lives.
Traditionally, Salvation Army captains cut ties with the community where they have lived. They do this to give the new
arriving captains an opportunity to establish roots in a community and so the departing captains will focus on their newly assigned community.
Though he’s done this readily in the past, Guy Nickum admits this process will be difficult with the friends and relationships developed in Valdosta.
“It is more difficult moving this time,” Guy says.
“We have loved it here,” Monica says.
In LaGrange, they will still have their sons and each other. Guy and Monica have known each other since childhood.
Guy recalls being about 15 when he first saw Monica at a church camp. He sat beside a friend when Monica and her missionary parents entered the room. Guy did not know her previously. She wore the white of missionaries.
“She wore white and I leaned over to my friend and said, She looks like an angel,” Guy said in a previous interview.
But Monica could barely stand him nearly 30 years ago. Monica dated Guy’s best friend in those long-ago days. Still, Guy sent her a letter expressing interest in Monica. She did not respond to his letter. Telling the story years later, Monica laughed, “Of course I didn’t respond; I was dating his best friend.” Much to Guy’s embarrassment years later, he learned she may not have written him but she had kept the letter, which is now framed.
As adults, Monica and Guy became reacquainted, became friends and a relationship developed.
She was training with the Salvation Army at the time. In June 2001, Monica was ordained as a Salvation Army captain. She and Guy married on Oct. 27, 2001. Monica’s rank was immediately pulled because a married Salvation Army captain must be wed to another Salvation Army captain to ensure they share one another’s mission. In 2004, Guy became a Salvation Army captain and Monica’s rank was restored.
The Nickums’ last day in Valdosta is scheduled for June 15.