Caring Spirit

Salvation Army board member goes above and beyond

By Jessica Laskey
July 2022

Things have come full circle for Bill Martin.

In May, Martin was presented with the Salvation Army’s annual Spirit of Caring Award, given to the person who demonstrates exceptional dedication to the Army and its mission.

Martin was the 30th Spirit honoree. The first, in 1992, was Thayer Prentice, former president of Point West Bank, who got Martin involved with the Salvation Army.

“I started as a volunteer passing out turkeys at Christmas and doing different things on-call, but in 2002, they invited me onto the board—and I’m still on it,” Martin says.

Martin has seen the organization through difficult times, including the 2008 recession when the Army was in the midst of $50 million in projects. The group was raising funds to build a school and daycare in Oak Park, had just purchased an apartment complex in Del Paso for people transitioning back into mainstream life after completing remedial programs, and working on a summer camp in Nevada City.

“I was chair at the time,” Martin recalls. “It was stressful but exciting.”

During much of his board tenure, Martin was president and CEO of the Bank of Sacramento. He and the bank did so much for the Salvation Army that they were offered the Spirit of Caring Award seven years ago. But it wasn’t good timing.
Martin was in the middle of negotiating to sell the bank he’d founded. He was ready to retire. When the award came back around to him this year, he was “shocked but very pleased.”

The longtime Fair Oaks resident explains the main work of the advisory board is, as the name suggests, to give advice. But the primary goal is raising money. Board members assist on “numerous changes like getting programs approved, real estate issues and temporary housing assistance. The board opens up doors and tries to expedite actions that the Salvation Army believes are necessary for the community,” Martin says.

When it comes to board duties, Martin is a superstar. “Bill Martin is the poster boy for the Salvation Army in Sacramento,” says fellow board member John Frisch, a star fundraiser for the Los Rios Community College Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and chair of this year’s Spirit of Caring event. “He’s done absolutely everything that a high-achieving board member could do. He’s chaired every committee, he’s been board chair, he worked on the capital campaign, he’s a major donor and a great fundraiser for the Salvation Army.”

Honorees who receive the Spirit of Caring Award are expected to raise even more funds as part of the ceremony. Martin “raised more money than any honoree ever has—he went above and beyond in his role,” Frisch says. “We have fairly high expectations of our honorees, but Bill exceeded all expectations.”

Martin is humble about his fundraising. He sees his success as a reflection of his community connections. “I was very flattered by the reaction of people I’d done business with and known for a long time,” he says. “It reinforced that I’d maybe done a few things right along the way.”

More than anything, Martin is glad that his efforts are helping support an organization that does good work. “The great thing about the Army is they’ve got great spirit—they put their heads down and get it done,” he says. “The main theme is always the same: Let’s get people who have fallen off for whatever the reason and need a hand up to get on their feet to get on with things. That need will always be there, and that’s what the Salvation Army provides.”

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Jessica Laskey can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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