10 Questions with Cheryl Poulopoulos

Corps. Community. Career. by Major Jason Swain

Cheryl Poulopoulos is the pavilion ministries director of the Seaside Pavilion in Old Orchard Beach, ME. The 1,400-seat amphitheater has its daily and seasonal challenges and is the home of The Salvation Army’s annual summer camp meetings. After a 23-year career in insurance, she answered God’s call to work for The Salvation Army. Poulopoulos lives in Old Orchard Beach with her husband, Andrew, and enjoys cooking, crafting and photography.

1. How did you meet The Salvation Army? 

Our daughter was friends with the daughter of local Salvation Army officers. They helped with music events at the high school where my husband was the vocal music educator, and we, in turn, helped with Christmas efforts at The Salvation Army. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that The Salvation Army was a church. 

2. What brings you joy and happiness?

My family brings me the greatest joy, especially the grandchildren. Spending time in nature, kayaking, sitting with a cup of tea on the dock and watching the beauty all around me, capturing that perfect picture. Standing on the edge of the audience in the Pavilion during a sold-out concert and watching “the church” worship together brings me happiness.

3. What is one challenge that you see for The Salvation Army?

Relevance. One of the things I appreciate most about The Salvation Army is tradition and heritage. While these are valuable to any church or organization, they sometimes keep us from moving forward, forgetting that today’s traditions were once yesterday’s new ideas. The world is changing so quickly all around us, and that means we need to find new and relevant ways to serve the needs of our communities, attract donors, attract people to our churches and still honor our heritage.

4. Who has made the biggest impact on you and your career?

My husband and my biggest fan, Drew. He sees things in me that I don’t always see. He always encourages me and gives me the push I need. He has complete confidence in my ability to do a job, even when I don’t.

5. What are you currently reading?

“The Shell Seekers” by Rosamunde Pilcher and Charles Dickens.

6. How do you handle negativity?

Negativity is like a virus, spreading quickly throughout our work, church and personal lives. I counter negativity with positivity and encouragement and try find a way for that person or group to see the other side of the situation. 

7. What drove you to choose the career that you did?

Three years after joining The Salvation Army, I was asked if I would consider moving to the position of pavilion ministries director. This was totally out of my comfort zone! Little did I know I would be entering the most fulfilling time of my life. I’ve learned so much! The relationships that have been formed with entertainers, vendors, staff and volunteers are worth every minute of the stress.

8. What are two of your greatest strengths?

Organization and team building. This position requires both, and that makes it fun. I try to surround myself with people that have talents I do not possess. Everyone has something different to contribute. The team we have at the Pavilion is the reason for its success. With this team, I can plan for everything that we know, so that we have time to address the inevitable “unknown.”

9. What advice would you give someone struggling with their faith?

Always keep connected by reading your Bible and praying, even if you don’t feel like it. My “go to” is to look back at a time when I know God was there. When our daughter’s cancer relapsed, God made sure we were there when she needed us. It’s a longer story than I can share here, but it was very profound. In the months following the relapse, and after her death, there were times I would question my faith, and I’d go back to that day when I knew God was there.  

10. What’s your favorite dessert?

After a long concert day, I love a Maine whoopie pie.

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