Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota

Donations in Action: A clear direction

Added on Thursday, August 23, 2018

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:

The comeback of a lifetime

After leaving a homeless situation and just finishing treatment for a meth addiction, one young mother of two started her journey towards stability by signing up for The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope mentoring program. For the next few years, this mother met with me almost every week and worked hard at achieving her goals. She had the determination, but just needed support and a couple resources to get her to where she is today.

With our support, this woman took great strides to accomplish her goals. She became a member of a local church, obtained affordable daycare for her children, gained employment, paid her driver’s license fees, got her driver’s license back, and purchased a vehicle.

That’s not all. Not only has she maintained stable housing and remained sober for almost two years, she recently enrolled in college and is set to begin this month.

Talk about making a comeback!

A clear direction

Two young men were walking down Central Avenue in Minneapolis aimlessly, not knowing where to go, until they saw a “free lunch” sign with an arrow pointing to The Salvation Army. They came in the building and asked for a free lunch, which I informed them was available down the hall.

After the young men ate their lunch and were on their way out of the building, they stopped at the front desk and asked for bus tokens. These two men looked so young that I was concerned for their well being. I asked where they were going and they replied, “We don’t know.”

To ensure these two had a safe place to go, I made a quick phone call to another social services organization in Anoka County. The staff member on the other end of the phone was friendly and willing to assist both of the young men.

Before they left, I gave them the address of the other organization, the phone number, and the name of the contact person who would be expecting them. I also got them an emergency food bag and a couple of dollars for bus fare, courtesy of a friendly donor who was waiting in our lobby.

Consider keeping your receipts

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a woman asking to make an appointment to help with her rent. I could tell by sound of her voice that she was near tears and desperate. She informed me that she tried many places asking for help and they all turned her down. With only a week until she would be evicted, I was her last hope.

The woman explained that during the last several months she had lost two family members. The first person she lost was her beloved aunt who lived in Mexico. When this woman heard that her aunt was very sick, she and her son drove to Mexico to offer love and comfort. When her Aunt passed away, the entire family had to split the costs of the funeral.

Unfortunately, this was not the last big expense the woman had in Mexico. Her car broke down and she had to replace the broken parts in order to drive back home.

When her second relative passed away, once again, she had to assist with the expenses. With all of these heavy financial hits, it became impossible to keep up with rent.

I asked the woman if she kept any receipts from the gas stations on her trip, car parts, food, etc., along with funeral expenses. I was surprised when a day later she brought in receipts written in Spanish. She even had the funeral expense report and death certificate.

Luckily, we were able to get her the assistance she needed through another agency.

The woman thanked me over and over with tears in her eyes. (I started crying, too.) She said I was the only person who was willing to help her and this is why God sent her to us. She gave me a big hug.

The situation gave me goosebumps, as I knew her words were true. I was so thankful that I was able to help her.

Never, never give up

For several years I have met with a young man, off and on, for things like gas cards, diapers, and food. Throughout the time I have known him, he has struggled with instability due to family relationships, housing, and mental health. He has experienced homelessness since 2015. In addition, he is often alone to care for his children because their mom is unstable also.

Throughout the years, I have assisted him by getting him on our county’s list for housing. I have also referred him to other social workers to help meet the other needs of himself and his family. When he finally began working with a housing case manager from another agency, she struggled to find him housing due to his criminal background. In fact, this young father was turned down by so many different landlords, I decided to write a letter on his behalf to share with landlords in order to convince them to give him a chance. It still did not work.

I began to believe that maybe this client would never find housing.

But, God was with him. One day, his case manager was able to find a private landlord that would accept his background. The Salvation Army happily assisted with paying for his deposit.

A few weeks after he and his family moved in, he came to see me to express his sincerest thanks and to ask for help furnishing his new apartment. Luckily, this was much easier than finding housing. I gave him vouchers to buy some household items for his new apartment. I also spoke with him about how he can start to focus on other things in his life such as his mental health and parenting skills. He is very excited to take those next steps now that he has the support that he needs from his housing case manager.

It felt great to partner with another agency to find housing for this man. Neither of our agencies could have accomplished this on our own.

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community. Stay current on how The Salvation Army is changing lives in Minnesota and North Dakota by signing up for our e-Newsletters.