“Pathway of Hope is the evolution of what The Salvation Army has provided since its creation,” says Cheryl Wilson, Salvation Army case manager.
“The Salvation Army has existed for over 150 years as an organization that serves basic emergency needs. But today, we know that we can address the root causes of what keeps a person in need,” says Wilson. “Transactional provision of food and resources are great, but the change that Pathway of Hope can offer is goal and action-oriented; it’s made to impact this and future generations.”
Wilson gets to know the people she helps and addresses the root causes of what keeps them from achieving stability and self–sufficiency. Housing, childcare, reliable transportation, and gainful employment are all part of a stable living situation. “Every part impacts the others,” explains Wilson. “If your car breaks down or you don’t have someone to watch your kids, you might not be able to work.”
The most common aspect of generational poverty Wilson sees is the lack of basic job skills. But even when those skills are present, there can also be other unavoidable barriers.
“We don’t really say it or even think about it, but when we’re working with young, single mothers in their 20s, the lack of family support is a big cause of multigeneration poverty,” says Wilson. She remembers a client, Dee Dee, who was in nursing school. When her child’s father broke up with Dee Dee, she had nowhere to go.
“Dee Dee is an amazing person, but she didn’t have support. She couldn’t live with her family. Her car had broken down and she had no one to take her to work. She finally came to our food pantry for help,” says Wilson.
The first thing Wilson did was to take Dee Dee’s car in for repairs. While the car was in the shop, Wilson drove her to nursing school. “My children studied medicine, so I know what that training is like. You simply can’t miss those classes,” says Wilson.
Wilson also helped another client, Marquita, a mother of three, get child support from her ex–husband. In addition, Marquita obtained a full–time job, a deposit for an income–based apartment, and child care for her youngest.
“In this job, you see things from the client’s perspective. Even free childcare requires a lot of waiting and paperwork,” says Wilson. She took documents for Marquita to daycare and to family court so she would not miss work. “Some days, you just have to be an advocate,” says Wilson.
Meeting with car mechanics, landlords, and court officials has become part of the job for Wilson. It’s the “hope” in Pathway of Hope: helping clients get ahead by doing what they can’t do for themselves—because they are trying to maintain jobs and other essential aspects of their lives.
“When you’re in a crisis and you don’t know where to turn, take a deep breath, and know that someone has your back at [The Salvation Army],” says Wilson.
by Hugo Bravo
See Also: Pathway of Hope families see success in self-reliance
What is Pathway of Hope?
The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative provides individualized services to families with children. These families desire to take action to break the cycle of crisis and vulnerability that repeats generation after generation. The Pathway of Hope’s focus is to seek to address the root causes of poverty while continuing The Salvation Army’s history of compassionate serving. By helping families overcome challenges such as unemployment, unstable housing, and a lack of education, The Salvation Army leads families down a path toward increased stability and self–sufficiency.
Through Pathway of Hope, The Salvation Army introduces families to services that are available within their community. These services offer a network of support, a sense of belonging, holistic programs, and spiritual guidance. Families also receive a connection to job training, health services, childcare and education, housing options, legal services, and much more.
For more information on where The Salvation Army has instituted the Pathway of Hope initiative in Florida, please click here.