It is common for people to discover Jesus at The Salvation Army and be born-again.
Bob Bemel (pictured above), on the other hand, was actually born at The Salvation Army. His mother gave birth to him in 1942 at Booth Memorial Hospital in St. Paul, a former Salvation Army maternity hospital for unwed mothers (pictured right).
“My mother was single and pregnant with me,” Bemel said. “She came by train from her home in Duluth. She was (at the hospital) for four months.”
The Salvation Army has since transformed the hospital into a youth housing facility called Booth Brown House, where formerly homeless youth receive food, counseling, and short- and long-term housing.
Booth Brown House (pictured) also serves as a parking lot for the Minnesota State Fair (learn more). For the past two years, Bemel has signed up to volunteer as a parking lot attendant. He is scheduled to volunteer four times this year.
“I think of my mother when I am in the parking lot helping park cars,” Bemel said. “I think of the support she received, her courage, and her love for me.”
Oftentimes, he gazes in wonderment at the top floor of Booth Brown House, which used to be a birthing room.
“I look up at it in awe,” Bemel said. “It is an honor to give a little back for all that The Salvation Army did for my mother and me.”
Bemel’s mom later got married and had four more kids, and the man she married adopted Bemel as his own.
Bemel and his half-siblings “remain close to this day,” he said.
Bemel went on to lead an incredible life, serving in the U.S. Navy and enjoying a successful career in human relations. He has two children and two grandchildren.
“They are the real blessings,” he said.
Help out during the State Fair
Please join Bemel in supporting The Salvation Army during the Minnesota State Fair by volunteering as a parking lot attendant or parking your car at Booth Brown House.
Bonus: If you volunteer, you’ll get one free ticket to the Minnesota State Fair. Volunteer duties include collecting cash from drivers, directing them into the lot, and guiding them into specific parking spaces. Training, water, coffee, and snacks are provided. Volunteers are most needed throughout Labor Day weekend. Register to volunteer now.
The cost to park is $15, with all proceeds supporting Booth Brown House and the young men and women who live there (read story).