Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Social worker helps woman

Donations in Action: Alone in a foreign land

Added on Thursday, May 4, 2017

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:

Family displaced by fire

Here’s a great example of how your donations help in times of disaster: A mom, dad and three children lost their home to a fire in Georgetown, Minn., a small town of about 150 people just east of Fargo, N.D. The fire destroyed everything the family owned.

After 10 days straight of living with relatives, stress levels were high in the single-family home. The family reached out to a local agency that provided a referral to a Salvation Army caseworker. Our caseworker stepped in and gave the family a weekend of respite and privacy by providing three nights at a local hotel.

Recognizing that the family had other immediate needs, the caseworker left them a gift basket inside their hotel room. The basket was filled with essentials such as food and toiletries.

The family was grateful for the time away and the mental break, which was much needed after the high stress of a total-loss fire.

Alone in a foreign land

A family of four from Ethiopia came to our office in desperate need, not knowing where to go or what to do. They had visited other agencies but could not get their needs met.

The family included a husband, wife, and their two little kids. I started by giving them blankets and food. I also gave them a voucher for clothing and other essentials. The look of gratitude on their faces was indescribable.

Toward the end of the meeting, I helped the husband and wife fill out an application for rent assistance. They said they would be back soon with the documents needed to complete the application.

The family thanked me for listening to their story and giving them the help they needed. They were a pleasure to work with, and I do look forward to assisting them in the future.

How God stretches dollars 

A woman came to me with many needs, one of which was car repairs. Two of the tires on her vehicle were flat, and she assumed they needed to be replaced.

Prior to visiting with me, the resourceful woman had gone to a local Walmart auto shop to get an estimate on two new tires. The estimate was within Salvation Army guidelines, so she and I moved forward with her request.

When the repairs were completed, the woman learned that her tires could be patched instead of replaced, dropping the cost of the repair from $200 to $20. She was elated.

Coming in under-budget allowed the woman to qualify for other assistance that addressed her health and other needs.

The situation was a great example of God stretching Salvation Army dollars further, to do the most possible good for this very appreciative woman.

Downward spiral

Recently I helped a woman who was coming off a terrible year. She had suffered a stroke at the young age 51, and she’d spent a long time unable to work. Most of her days were filled with therapy appointments.

Her disability insurance only covered 80 percent of her therapy, and without a job, she couldn’t afford to pay the remaining 20 percent. This started a downward spiral.

After several months of falling behind on her rent, her doctor finally said she could return to work. But by then, she was in danger of losing her home because she was too deep in the hole.

Thankfully, I was able to help this woman by providing $625 worth of rent assistance. This saved her from losing her home. She’s going to make it now.

The power of positivity

Recently I assisted a woman who had overcome drug addition, human trafficking, domestic abuse, and years of homelessness. I helped her move into long-term housing with her daughter. For the first time ever, the woman had a place to call her own.

This woman now has a positive attitude and a drive to grow. Her resilience, in the face of such adversity, is absolutely inspiring.

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community.