break the cycle of povertyAfter a challenging and tumultuous period in her life, Crystal checked in to The Salvation Army’s family shelter at the Community of Hope in Lakeland, Florida. Upon arrival, her central goal was to build a stable home for herself and three children, especially after a recent eviction.

Just a few weeks into Crystal’s maximum 90-day stay in the family shelter, she enrolled in the Pathway of Hope program and quickly secured a job at a local restaurant. From there, Crystal opened a bank account to embark on her plan to save money in order to transition out of the shelter and into stable, secure housing.

“We could tell right away that Crystal was ready for change, and that is really what Pathway of Hope is all about,” said Cristina Coulson, Social Services Program Coordinator. “She was really ready to break the cycle of poverty that she had been experiencing for years, and to do it for her children. The program was a great fit for her, and everything worked well, in part because she was so on board with being held accountable.”

With visible and clear motivation to improve her circumstances, Crystal continued to progress. Eventually, she signed a lease on a house, with The Salvation Army providing some financial assistance and Crystal contributing in a significant manner from money saved through her new employment. Ultimately, Crystal’s housing situation is now secure, with her dwelling fully furnished and comfortable for herself and her school-aged children.

Crystal remains active in the Pathway of Hope initiative, including weekly case management meetings with Coulson to help her navigate the coming days and months. Crystal also plans to continue her education by pursuing her GED, and she aims to secure a driver’s license. Her journey continues with an eye toward a better future, and her story stands as an illustration of what hard work and persistence can bring.

“Pathway of Hope works because it is a partnership between the case manager and the client,” Coulson said. “We purposefully work at the client’s pace, meeting them where they are. I think Crystal’s story is really a perfect reminder that, through Pathway of Hope, we can really break the cycle of poverty for people that have faced hardships for large portions of their life. I think she’s a shining example of someone who really wanted to put in the work, and we were able to come alongside her in the journey.”

Find out more about The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope Initiative.

By: Brad Rowland

Ronnie Samuel - Anxiety Alleviated

61-year-old Ronnie Samuel felt as though his problems were piling on top of each other and that his life was too much to bear. After taking time off work as a security guard while he recovered from kidney transplant surgery, he tested positive for COVID-19. During his recovery, bills began to stack up, reaching a total of $4,000.

That’s when Ronnie turned to The Salvation Army, where he was assured that everything would be alright. He explained his experience working with his caseworker, “She was very professional. She was helpful. The Salvation Army grabs you and pulls you back in. It was a huge help to me. It was awesome. I just want to thank them so much.”

The Salvation Army is continuing to work with Ronnie to help ease his burdens.

love thy neighbor

During the darkest times of the pandemic, Amy was driving back from the grocery store with a car full of food and supplies for her and her family when she spotted a line of people waiting for food at The Salvation Army. She called the location and learned how many people were out of work and in need of basic resources.

“It broke my heart,” Amy explained. “I live a mile down the road, and these are our neighbors. There had to be something we could do.”

Amy organized a massive community food drive and brought the food to her local Salvation Army food bank.

“This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for being able to contribute to The Salvation Army’s work.”

Spanish Flu

In 1918, The Salvation Army was at the height of its international popularity. Its war work during the Great War (WWI) was exemplary and recognized by governments across the globe. United States National Commander Evangeline Booth received the Distinguished Service medal from General John J. Pershing for all of the work that The Salvation Army did in France. The combat was soon to shift to an unseen enemy. The Great War had prepared The Salvation Army for a new challenge.

The Spanish flu was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it is considered one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.

In New York, Lillian Wald, a pioneer nurse, called for help and The Salvation Army answered. Wald mobilized a multitude of nurses, organizations, church groups, municipal bureaucracies, civic entities, and social agencies into a Nurses’ Emergency Council. The group assembled volunteer nurses and enlisted women who could support them by answering phones, accompanying nurses and doctors on home visits, and arranging for and driving automobiles to carry linens, pneumonia jackets, and quarts of soup.

Homeless shelters became makeshift hospitals and new cleanliness protocols were enforced. The Salvation Army had always believed that “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” but a new emphasis was placed on disinfecting the crowded city shelters.

The Salvation Army also began food distribution to the poorest of families in the major centers of operation, like New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. The “war work” continued as thousands of AEF soldiers began returning home from France. Many were crowded into temporary camps and the flu swept through the ranks. Salvation Army personnel wrote letters home, served coffee and doughnuts, helped nurse sick men, cleaned hospitals, and provided encouragement to the soldiers. Naturally, Salvationists (Salvation Army church members) offered to pray and read the Bible to those in the hospital.

Like most flu strains, the Spanish flu quickly mutated, and illness levels dropped dramatically in 1919 and 1920. The “roaring twenties” had begun and people soon forgot about the flu epidemic. It wasn’t until the 1990s when new flu strains began to affect the world population that interest in the Spanish flu was revived.

Through it all, The Salvation Army served and continues to serve suffering humanity throughout the world.

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