Major Dan Boyer celebrated his 100th birthday recently by sharing his testimony with the congregation at The Salvation Army. He was surrounded by friends and family and his wife and partner in ministry for 60 years, Major Joy Boyer. Through a life-long dedication to service, Major Dan Boyer was the person who planted a seed back in 1989 that has ripened into today’s Family Living program.
In 1986 Majors Dan and Joy Boyer retired to live in Lakeland, Florida after 33 years of service as Salvation Army Officers.
Early in their career, the Boyers served as Corps Officers in Missouri and were eventually appointed to the Harbor Light program which provided rehabilitation programs for alcoholics and drug addicts. Soon after appointment, Major Dan Boyer realized that these men and women who went through the program needed to transition back into society before going out on their own. Major Boyer arranged the purchase of a hotel which became the Harbor House program in Indianapolis, Indiana, a transitional program for men. When the Boyers were sent to the Harbor Light program in St. Louis, Missouri, Major arranged for the purchase of a former Boys Home which was converted into the Harbor House program which included the first transitional program for women in the state. Major Boyer later transformed the Evangeline Residence for single working women (developed during WWII when women from the countryside filled men’s jobs in the city for the war effort) into the Railton Residence, the third transition step in recovery for men and women graduates of the Harbor Light program.
When the Boyers moved to Lakeland in 1986, Major Joy Boyer went to work as the Director of Social Services for the state office of The Salvation Army in Florida. Major Dan Boyer continued his ministry as the Homeless Services Coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Lodge on Kentucky Avenue and was also involved in the beginnings of the Homeless Coalition in Lakeland.
As society changed during the 1980’s, Major Dan Boyer soon saw the need to provide space for homeless women including homeless women with children. After Major Boyer introduced a transitional program for local homeless men, an idea began to take shape to better serve the needs of the homeless families that he saw every day.
In 1989 Major Dan Boyer laid the groundwork for a pilot project developed with seven leased apartments on Lake Wire, these were the first transitional living units for families with children, among the first in the nation. One year later, it was determined that The Salvation Army should provide its own onsite childcare (now known as the Hazel Haley HALO Center) for these families so that the parents could work and know their children were well cared for each day by loving and caring staff.
Today, as The Salvation Army continues the work started by Major Dan Boyer, the Family Living program, now called The Joe and Alberta Blanton Family Village, serves 21 homeless families. This program is only one component for homeless families on the 49-acre neighborhood campus called The George W. Jenkins Community of Hope.
Majors Dan and Joy Boyer reside at the Presbyterian Homes in Lakeland, Florida.