Donations in Action: Veteran thrives, a hungry baby is fed
Written by Craig Dirkes, writer/photographer for The Salvation Army Northern Division
Many of the people The Salvation Army serves are in the middle of crazy, unpredictable circumstances. Their stories can be heartbreaking, uplifting, and everything in between.
Here are some of their 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 the stories without using names.
If you have ever wondered how The Salvation Army uses your donations, here are some good examples:
Housed veteran returns to painting
A veteran who was a talented painter had become homeless and was referred to us for help finding permanent housing. Due to his situation, he’d stopped painting completely.
I was able to arrange a meeting for him with a local landlord. Both the landlord and the veteran were eager to move forward with a rental agreement. In a matter of weeks, this veteran went from being homeless to having a home to call his own.
It was amazing to see the transformation. When I first met him, he was hopeless because he didn’t have a refuge, a safe place to get away from the harsh realities of life after military service. Once housed, his spirit was vibrant. He resumed painting as soon as he moved in and planned to use his artwork to decorate his home.
He called once a week to tell me about the plans he had for the space. I offered a furniture voucher to help fill in the gaps, but his response surprised me. He wanted to do this for himself. He created a plan to save up for furnishings so that his home would feel more like his own. It was awesome to see his life resume after this one piece of the puzzle – a home – fell into place.
Baby hadn’t eaten all day
A poverty-stricken single mother came into our food shelf with her two daughters, one of them an 11-month-old baby. The woman seemed upset, so I took it upon myself to walk her through the food shelf personally.
As we strolled through the food shelf aisles and picked out food, I quickly discovered why the woman was so upset. She told me that her baby daughter hadn’t eaten all day because she didn’t have any food to give her. On top of that, the following day would be her baby’s 1-year birthday. My heart ached for this woman and her kids.
Thankfully, I was in a position to help. In addition to giving them several big bags of food, I was also able to provide diapers, and a birthday bag filled with goodies. The woman left much happier than when she’d arrived.
My ‘friend’ was wondering…
A man came to my office asking about all of The Salvation Army’s different programs, including food and housing. He said his friend from church needed to know.
As we continued talking, it became apparent that the man didn’t need the information for his friend. He needed it for himself.
The man thanked me for my time and got up to leave. Just then, I asked him if he’d like to sign up for our food shelf program. He sat back down. “Yes,” he told me.
He then opened up about losing his job and needing a place to stay. I referred him to The Salvation Army Harbor Light Shelter in Minneapolis for shelter and hot meals. I also gave him 18 pounds of food. The man was grateful.
Much needed repair
The woman I met with had been living out of her car, trying to hold down a part-time job in hopes of securing full-time employment. Her car was breaking down. If it conked out, she would probably lose her job and spiral even further out of control.
The car needed three different repairs. I told the woman that The Salvation Army could help, but due to limited funding, we could not pay to fix everything – just the one repair the car needed most. The woman said that more than anything, her car needed tires. All four were bald, and it was dangerous for her to drive in the rain or snow.
I coordinated with a nearby Tires Plus store that was willing to offer a big discount. In addition, I referred the woman to local housing programs and provided her with gas vouchers so she could continue getting to her job. The woman was so thankful.