Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Salvation Army caseworker helps woman

Donations in Action: Caseworkers listen, give

Added on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Many of the people The Salvation Army serves are in the middle of crazy circumstances. Their stories can be heartbreaking, uplifting and everything in between.

Here are some of those stories, submitted by Salvation Army social workers and caseworkers from across Minnesota and North Dakota. Out of respect for the people involved, we are retelling these stories without using names.

If you’ve ever wondered how The Salvation Army uses your donations, here’s your answer:

Shoulder to cry on

The two stories below illustrate how the simple act of listening can be an invaluable service to people in crisis.   

  • Suddenly, the woman I’d been counseling for several months was experiencing a terrible reality: A family member was forcing her to relinquish the rights to her 15-year-old cousin, whom she had raised since he was 2 years old. The woman called and was hysterical. I spoke with her for 45 minutes, listening to her vent and express sadness about her loss. Although I was not able to offer any direct assistance, it did help her to speak out about her feelings. Just before we said goodbye, the woman said she felt much better than when our conversation started.
  • An Ecuadorian woman regularly uses our food shelf. One day, she told me her story. Several years ago, she left her country with her husband and their two kids, looking for a better life. Sadly, the marriage dissolved after the family arrived in America. The husband took the oldest child – a boy – and moved back to Ecuador. The woman has not seen or spoken with her son since. She started crying and told me she would do anything just to see her son one more time. My heart broke. I gave her a big hug and offered the only thing I could – sympathy. Her situation made me realize how many things, on a daily basis, we all take for granted in our daily lives.

Good tenant, bad situation

A man stopped by in need of rent assistance. He had recently suffered a heart attack and was unable to work for several months. He had been living in the same apartment, and working the same job, for 15 years. After falling behind on his rent, he asked if The Salvation Army could help him catch up as he resumed working. We were able to give him $500. Although he owed more than that, he was happy for the assistance. We called his landlord, who we found out was also trying to help the man by being lenient. The landlord said the man had been a good tenant for many years, and he wanted the man to remain in the building. The landlord, and the man, thanked The Salvation Army for helping to resolve the situation.

Short, yet powerful

Incredible stories, in four sentences or less.  

  • A poor man asked if we had a birthday cake he could give to his son, who was turning 5. We didn’t, but we found a nearby Salvation Army that did – candles included. Several days later, the man stopped by to say thank you for making his son’s birthday celebration brighter.
  • A man in Salvation Army housing was struggling with personal hygiene. Our staff gently encouraged him to work on this. Eventually, the man came to see us with clipped nails, clean clothes and new air of confidence. It’s the little things!
  • It’s not every day we get a request for help paying for somebody’s body cast. Yet our office was pleased to help a man with just that. We see people with lots of challenges, and health hurdles are often part of the mix.
  • Last month our team helped seven families struggling with homelessness get into permanent housing. Some of the families had resorted to sleeping in their cars. It was so good to see them with a roof over their heads and a floor beneath their feet.
  • We helped a survivor of an apartment fire purchase goods to rebuild his life. Later, he supplied us with a list of housing options for others who’d suffered through the same fire. What an inspiring man. In the midst of his own struggles, he was still thinking of others and how to help them.