Capt. Leilani Alarcon and her husband, Josue Alarcon, are pastors and administrators for the Salvation Army in Beacon.
How did you end up in Beacon?
My husband and I were first in Beacon in 2010 as assistants to the corps officer assigned here at the time, Maj. Doris Gonzalez. We spent a year working with her. Then, we went to the Salvation Army College for Officer Training [in Suffern], where we were commissioned and ordained as officers/pastors. Our first assignment was to Port Chester. We were there for three years before being assigned to Beacon in 2016.
What community programs do you offer?
We have a senior program on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for any type of social services. We have a caseworker who handles the food pantry and we also get people who need energy assistance. My husband works at the veterans’ hospital [Castle Point] as a chaplain and we have our church. My husband also runs a basketball program. We open the gym on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays to the community.
How did the pandemic affect your programs?
Obviously we couldn’t hold our senior program because they were one of the most vulnerable populations. But we delivered boxes with groceries and snacks to their doors. We also had Social Services calling us about people who were quarantined and we made deliveries for those families. Usually in a month we would see 30 families, but during the pandemic, that went up to 150 to 200 families. We were experiencing shortages all the time; people were in need.
Does Beacon have enough resources?
Thankfully, there are a lot of resources. There are meals programs, pantry programs, and we all kind of talk to each other. There is a lot of unseen need in Beacon that people are not aware of. We have a unique perspective, my husband and I, because we lived here in 2010 and Beacon was different back then. Most of the stores on Main Street were shuttered. Beacon has changed a lot. There are pros and cons to that.
Any new programs in the works?
We’re hoping to start an after-school music program. It’s an intense day of learning music theory from professional musicians who come from our divisional headquarters, learning how to play brass instruments — trumpet, cornet. It also might mean learning how to play piano or guitar. It helps children learn discipline and have fun, as well, to express themselves in an artistic way. Beacon is an artsy town, so a lot of the children here connect with the arts. We’re hoping that the music program will be a draw for them.