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Isaac, The Things They Carry

The Things They Carry: Isaac

Added on Monday, December 11, 2017

Homeless youth carry heavy things that can’t fit into a backpack. They carry the loneliness of being ignored, the heartache of being abandoned, and the anxiety of having to fend for themselves. The Things They Carry is a four-part series about how The Salvation Army is helping homeless youth in the Twin Cities. You can help them too by giving at a kettle or becoming a bell ringer.  

Isaac lives at a Salvation Army youth housing facility in St. Paul. He carries the burden of having no identity.

The 19-year-old moved to Minnesota from Liberia at age 4. He didn’t elaborate on the circumstances of his emigration, saying only, “It wasn’t much of a childhood. It was different not being with my family and living with other people, but I made the most out of that situation.”

Prior to arriving at The Salvation Army, Isaac had been homeless and living on the streets since age 14.

“The hardest part of being homeless is not knowing where you’re going to sleep, or where your next meal is coming from,” he said.

While homeless, he lived out of his backpack and carried only vital documents and a few clothing items.

“I wished I had food and hygiene products,” he said.


Booth Brown HouseIsaac has been staying at The Salvation Army’s youth housing facility in St. Paul, called Booth Brown House, for several months. He is one of 25 youth ages 18–24 enrolled in the facility’s Permanent Supportive Housing program, which provides long-term housing and endless support from Salvation Army caseworkers.

“When I wake up every morning, I thank God for being here,” Isaac said.

He is learning to be a productive young man. He has a job, and he is putting into practice all he has learned from his caseworkers.

“They’ve been showing me how to get around and how to do things that I don’t know how to do – like writing a check to pay rent,” Isaac said.

Working a steady job and paying for his own housing are Isaac’s two biggest life accomplishments, he said.  (Booth Brown House residents who are employed pay rent on a sliding scale.)

Isaac’s future goals include saving up for a market-rate apartment and going to college.

He is joyful this holiday season “knowing that I’m not going to be outside and that I’m not homeless.”

Poverty is an everyday battle. People experiencing poverty are not without hope – their lives are just harder than they should be. The Salvation Army is helping to make their lives a little easier, thanks to your gifts of time and money. Join us in the fight for good by giving online or donating at a red kettle, becoming a volunteer bell ringer, or recruiting your own army as a fundraiser on Learn more about how The Salvation Army fights poverty in your community.

Real name changed. Photo for illustrative purposes.