Nomadic family stays put, begins to thrive
In early 2016, Tyler and Nara (pictured) arrived at The Salvation Army in Willmar, Minn., at their breaking point.
“Nara told me it was their last hope,” said Captain Linda Faye Jones, Willmar Salvation Army administrator.
The couple had spent their entire 17-year marriage living without a plan, moving across the country from one city to the next. The stress of their nomadic and financially irresponsible lifestyle, coupled with the difficulty of raising their five kids, now ages 8 to 17, had finally caught up with them.
They came to the Willmar Salvation Army (pictured) to enroll in a long-term counseling program called Pathway of Hope. The program is designed to help families get out of poverty through intensive case management that includes goal-setting, education, and accountability.
Today, Tyler and Nara are no longer in jeopardy. The couple graduated from Pathway of Hope just a few weeks ago, and now their life is marvelous.
Among Tyler and Nara’s achievements:
- They have been current on all their bills for the past six months.
- Nara has held the same job for a year and has been promoted four times.
- They are down to relying on just one government assistance program, and they are close to eliminating their need for it.
- They have made education a priority for their children. Currently they are researching colleges and financial aid for their oldest child, who is a junior in high school.
Tyler and Nara achieved these goals through weekly meetings with Jones, who provided loving guidance while keeping them accountable.
“I have never met anybody like Captain Linda,” Nara said. “Sometimes I’d be crying when I showed up at our meetings. By the time I left, I’d forgotten what I was ever crying about.”
Tyler and Nara are excited to finally have a stable life.
“For the first time, we feel like we have a home now,” said Nara, who married Tyler in 1999. The couple had moved to Willmar to be closer to Tyler’s sister, after previously living in states such as South Dakota, Washington, Colorado, and Virginia.
Although Tyler is unable to work – he underwent spinal surgery in 2013 and can barely walk some days – he is helping his family by arming himself with education: He attends self-improvement courses at the Willmar Salvation Army through a separate counseling program called Getting Ahead. The 16-session workshop identifies the root causes of poverty – such as individual behaviors and political/economic structures – and offers its students the tools to navigate themselves out of it.
Tyler especially loves The Salvation Army because it offers helpful programs free of charge.
“We had never met people who did something helpful just to do it – they always wanted something in return,” he said. “The people who work (at The Salvation Army) are very genuine, and we have never felt judged. It’s our new extended family now.”
“Many people in poverty don’t have anybody who can say to them, ‘I love you enough to walk this journey with you,’” Jones said. “Pathway of Hope fills this need and meets people where they are at. Accommodating the individual has to be the priority.”
Currently the Willmar Salvation Army is helping seven other families through Pathway of Hope. The program is offered at Salvation Army locations nationwide, including all 30 of our Worship and Service Centers in Minnesota and North Dakota.