After having served the Manhattan and Ogden communities for nearly 20 years through ministry, Diana Chapel is preparing to take some time for herself.
Since 2010, Chapel, 62, Ogden, has served as the director of the Ogden Friendship House of Hope, a thrift shop that sells clothes and home goods, as well as runs a food pantry for families in need. She also pastors at the Ogden Friendship United Methodist Church. While she plans to retire Monday, Chapel said she wants to get back into volunteering after a break.
Chapel said faith and helping others have been ingrained into her since she was a child. She said although her family experienced some financial issues growing up, her father taught her and her five siblings that there were people who didn’t have as much and they should help others.
“We didn’t have a lot,” Chapel said. “(My father was) a milkman, and he’d get tips at Christmas and he’d always give his tips to a family in need. Us kids, we thought, ‘Wow why are you doing that? We could’ve used that.’ But it gave us that example that you share.”
Before she worked in ministry, Chapel served in the U.S. Army for 22 years, rising to the ranks of lieutenant colonel. She retired in 2000 as a logistics officer. She joined a year into her college studies to pay for her education, eventually receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business marketing at Texas Tech University and Northwestern State University of Louisiana, respectively.
Chapel said she was one of the first women to join the 5th Infantry Division and becoming an officer was a bit of an experiment to see how well the integration would work.
Chapel said she felt pressure to do well, but she wanted to prove she could handle the responsibility not just to the Army but herself as well.
“I had the mentality I wasn’t going to fail,” Chapel said. “I was going to come up to be just as good as the guys. … There’s a saying in the Army, ‘Watch your lane.’ It’s mostly about where you’re shooting and I took care of my soldiers. I thought, ‘I cannot control what’s happening up here (on a higher level), but I’m going to take care of mine the best way I can. I’m going to watch my lane and take care of my soldiers.’”
After Chapel retired from the Army, she went on to graduate from seminary and became ordained as a minister. Chapel joined the First United Methodist Church in Manhattan and became its minister of outreach.
During that time, Chapel also helped found Sheperd’s Crossing, a nondenominational ministry that offers financial support and services to area residents, and worked with several other organizations that give back to the community.
Donna Miller said she got to know Chapel when they worked together on the First United Methodist Church’s mission committee, a group that delegated funds to mission trips.
“When Diana became our ministry liaison, we really started doing things,” Miller said. “We made baby bags for single mothers, we just got involved in all sorts of action things.
“We figured out how to raise some money. The thing about Diana, she was always with us with her sleeves rolled up. She never asked us to do something that she wasn’t already knee-deep in, and she certainly led by example.”
Throughout the 19 years she has known Chapel, Miller said she has always seen Chapel find new ways to help people or find practical uses and homes for donations. With Chapel’s help, Miller said the Ogden church feeds teachers during parent-teacher conferences, packs hundreds of Christmas boxes for children in need around the world and more.
“Diana’s mentality is so ‘A hand up instead of a hand out,’” Miller said. “She’s a very down-to-earth, common sense person.”
As she worked in the Manhattan community, Chapel said her mind always thought back to Ogden, a place she said she was curious about when she passed through while she was stationed at Fort Riley.
“I saw Ogden as another place that could maybe use something similar,” she said.
“I educated myself about what was available out there to help people and I felt I could get to Ogden, having that knowledge base. To be able to help people was something I really wanted to do.”
Although she has been at the forefront of the community for several years, Chapel said she knows the the House of Hope will be in good hands.
“I am going to miss the volunteers; they’re very dedicated,” Chapel said. “I’m going to miss the the clients, but I know my replacement (Cathy Austin) is going to do great.”