Family mentoring program growing rapidly
A Salvation Army mentoring program called Pathway of Hope is teaching hundreds of families how to overcome poverty.
Pathway of Hope is offered at Salvation Army operation centers across Minnesota and North Dakota, where at-risk families with children under the age of 18 are learning how to thrive. Last year the program served more than 550 families, up from about 100 families in 2015.
In Mankato, Minn., Pathway of Hope is so popular that there is a waiting list. Families are lining up to learn about getting out of debt, securing housing, finding a good job, and much more.
Caseworker Sherrie Trucker (pictured) leads the program at the Mankato Salvation Army.
“This community is very supportive of Pathway of Hope – they are glad we are doing it here,” said Trucker, who is currently assisting 12 families.
She meets with each family once a week to help them set goals and formulate a long-term plan for success. Graduation takes six months to a year.
Here are some examples of the families Trucker serves:
Through Pathway of Hope, Trucker helped a woman named Roxanne get out of debt and find a good job as a personal care attendant.
Roxanne used to be stuck working at a restaurant that didn’t pay well and kept dropping her hours. She lives outside of Mankato with her husband and son; her husband cannot work because he is physically disabled.
“I love my new job – I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Roxanne, whose duties include performing household tasks for elderly and disabled persons. “I love all my clients. They have neat stories to tell.”
Trucker also taught Roxanne how to budget her money.
“I always knew about budgeting, but I never did it,” Roxanne said.
She 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.
Tamara enrolled in Pathway of Hope right after she arrived in Mankato from Chicago, where she and her kids had been homeless. She moved to Mankato in search of employment and a simpler, quieter life.
With Trucker’s help, Tamara was able to apply for a job as a school bus driver.
“I didn’t have enough money to pay for my Minnesota license, but The Salvation Army took care of it,” said Tamara, who passed all of her tests and got the job.
Trucker also helped Tamara find permanent housing.
“It feels great to be making steps forward,” Tamara said. “I can’t wait to get back on my feet so that I can give back.”
Upon her release from addiction treatment last spring, Mindy felt rejuvenated and was ready to take on the world. She’d found God and wanted a better life for herself and her two kids, ages 8 and 13. However, she didn’t know where to begin.
She found answers in Pathway of Hope. Immediately, Trucker helped Mindy find and secure permanent housing in Mankato.
“Having a home has been so helpful for my kids,” said Mindy, who had been homeless, off and on, since 2015. “For the first time, we won’t be bouncing from place to place. We’re not going anywhere.”
Trucker even helped Mindy resolve an outstanding warrant.
“(Trucker) always told me not to worry, because I had a friend in my corner,” Mindy said. “Without that, I wouldn’t have had the courage to keep going.”
Mindy’s next goal is to go back to school.
“I want to be self-sufficient so that I don’t have to have my housing paid for,” she said. “I can do it. Now, everything is possible.”
Support Pathway of Hope
A gift of $300 helps a Pathway of Hope family accomplish their first goal on the path to stability. Common goals include housing application fees, school books or class fees, clothing for job interviews, license renewal for reliable transportation, mattresses and bed frames, and more.
Pathway of Hope is offered at all of The Salvation Army’s 26 Worship and Service Centers in Minnesota and North Dakota. The majority of families mentored six months or longer increase their overall stability.