Mankato: Family counseling program catching fire
By Craig Dirkes, writer/photographer for The Salvation Army Northern Division
A Salvation Army counseling program called Pathway of Hope has become so popular in Mankato, Minn. that it now includes a waiting list for more families to join.
Pathway of Hope is a national Salvation Army program that helps create a path out of poverty for families with children under the age of 18. Each family meets with a Salvation Army caseworker once a week to set goals and formulate a long-term plan for success. Graduation takes six months to a year.
“This community is very supportive of Pathway of Hope – they are glad we are doing it here,” said Mankato Salvation Army caseworker Sherrie Trucker (pictured right).
Trucker is currently assisting 12 families. Some of their goals include finding permanent housing, securing a job, obtaining a driver’s license, enrolling in school, and more.
Under Trucker’s tutelage, a 47-year-old woman named Roxanne (pictured at top) graduated from the program last year. Roxanne lives a few miles east of Mankato with her husband and son. Her husband is physically disabled and is unable to work.
Before Pathway of Hope, Roxanne was stuck working at a restaurant that didn’t pay her well and kept dropping her hours. She has worked at restaurants most of her life.
Through Pathway of Hope, Trucker helped Roxanne find a job as a personal care attendant.
“I love my job – I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Roxanne, whose duties include performing household tasks for elderly and disabled persons. “Cleaning bathrooms or doing dishes doesn’t bother me – I already have to do that stuff at home. I love all my clients. They have neat stories to tell.”
In addition to helping Roxanne find employment, Trucker also taught her how to budget her money.
“I always knew about budgeting, but I never did it,” Roxanne said.
Roxanne and her family are now moving forward steadily, with dreams of buying a house.
“We still have to get our credit score up, but now we have the tools to map it out,” she said.
Among the 12 families Trucker is currently assisting is a 27-year-old single mother name Brittany.
Two years ago, Brittany was not in a good place. She suffered from depression and drug addiction.
“I felt there was nothing to live for,” Brittany said.
Today, after several years of treatment and therapy, she is happy and sober. She has become enthusiastic about her future and being the best mother she can to her two daughters, ages 1 and 6.
Some of that support comes from Trucker and Pathway of Hope. Brittany enrolled in the program earlier this spring.
“She wanted to sign up immediately,” Trucker recalled. “She didn’t even have to think about it.”
Brittany’s main goal is to be self-sufficient and not rely on government assistance. Right now she receives financial help with food and housing, while working 12 to 15 hours a week at a restaurant.
“I want a career,” Brittany said. “I want a permanent home for me and my girls.”
With Trucker’s help, Brittany has written a résumé and has begun to visit a local workforce center. Trucker believes that if Brittany can keep up her high level of effort and enthusiasm, she will succeed.
Pathway of Hope is offered at Salvation Army locations nationwide. Participants are often recruited for the program when they come to receive Salvation Army services such as food, clothing, and financial assistance.
Brittany is no exception. She found out about Pathway of Hope when she stopped by the Mankato Salvation Army to receive financial help for car repairs.
“We try to recruit every family that comes in for emergency services,” said Trucker, noting that the ultimate goal of Pathway of Hope is to reduce or eliminate families’ need for all types of outside assistance.
In the short video below, Brittany explains more about how The Salvation Army is helping her to create a better future for her and her kids.