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Former Salvation Army client Brett Bruvold, 46, at a computer

Breaking stereotypes: Man gains insight at shelter

Added on Thursday, July 25, 2013

Brett Bruvold learned two things when he was homeless. The first was pretty obvious: If you’d like to keep your home, six-figure job, friends, family and dignity, don’t do drugs.

The second was a revelation: “Even without drugs or alcohol, just about everybody is two chess moves away from being homeless – I don’t care who you are,” said Bruvold, 46, now a successful computer software salesman.

Bruvold landed at The Salvation Army’s shelter in St. Cloud, Minn., for 30 days after seven years of heavy drug use. He walked in expecting to see “bums.” But the reality was shockingly different.

“Only a small percentage of the people were like that,” he said. “I met one man who spent two years at his daughter’s bedside after she’d been in a terrible car accident. He’d owned a successful recruiting business, but lost everything because he had to support his daughter.”

Bruvold met another man who was critically injured after falling out of a tree he was cutting. The man became penniless after learning his disability insurance wouldn’t pay for injuries sustained during any of three activities: flying a plane, skydiving and – yes – climbing trees.

“No matter how good you have it, you can’t tell me for sure that your kid isn’t going to be in a car accident tomorrow,” Bruvold said. “You don’t know what you don’t know. Being homeless really can happen to anybody.”

Alas, Bruvold isn’t trying to be a downer. He tells these stories at fundraising events for the St. Cloud Salvation Army because he’s seen, firsthand, how much good the organization does. Donations to The Salvation Army just plain help people in need, no matter if their crisis is self-inflicted or totally beyond their control.

“A person in need is a person in need,” said Major Lee Morrison, leader of the St. Cloud Salvation Army, adding that the facility’s shelter is running at its 64-person capacity almost every night. “It doesn’t matter how a person got into a bad situation. What matters is how The Salvation Army, through God’s grace, can help get them out.”

That very help is what got Bruvold back on track. He came to the St. Cloud Salvation Army having lost everything to addiction, including a $200,000-per-year job.

“The Salvation Army helped me find housing and get assistance with all kinds of things I didn’t even know were available,” he said.

Today he works in St. Cloud as a salesman for riteSOFT®, a software business founded by several people he worked with before his life went south. He’s never been happier.

“If The Salvation Army wasn’t there and I would have kept living like I was, who knows what would have happened,” Bruvold said