Stanly Cochren has found his path. He lost it for a while, but with a little help and a lot of work, he’s found what he calls his opportunity to get everything straight. “After I paroled out of prison my life was on a downward spiral. Before I came here, I didn’t have a job. I got on my drug of choice and that led me to be homeless,” says Stanly. Originally from Talladega, his circumstances led to his looking for a way out of a bad situation. He found that way at The Salvation Army shelter in Montgomery, AL.
That pathway out began with wanting more for his life. Lt. Bryan Farrington, Montgomery Salvation Army Corps Officer, says that meeting with those in need begins with finding out what those needs are. “We call it life on life. We ask how we can help you move forward in life,” says Lt. Farrington. “If a person may be in a bad situation but doesn’t want help, you can give them resources to help but chances are they will consume the resources and be right back in the same place.” So, when a person in Stanly’s situation arrives at the Corps office or shelter, they usually have a reason to seek out a better way to live their life. “I just got tired of being tired,” says Stanly. “Until you come to that realization that you got people out there that are genuinely trying to help you, you’re going to be complacent in the situation that you’re in.”
One of those people is Camille Gross, the social worker for The Salvation Army in Montgomery. “I interact with approximately 20 clients on a daily basis.” From food to clothing vouchers and assistance with bills, Camille is there to help clients in tough times find their way out. “I assist them with getting medicines. Steering them into the pathways for different services that we don’t provide. I can set up appoints for them. Provide transportation. We do everything that we can here for the residents on a daily basis,” Camille says.
Lt. Farrington says that his shelter is a place to find help, but for those willing to make a greater effort, it can be a place to find hope as well. “Right now what we have is an emergency shelter. That’s for a person who is homeless and doesn’t have a place to go. They can stay here, no questions asked for a period of two weeks. They can eat, take showers at night. It’s for someone who’s fallen on hard times.” Finding a temporary respite is, however, only the beginning. “This is not just that you’re here for a while and then you’re gone. (We can be) a partner in life to help you walk out of a trap, so that you have some means to keep your life stable,” Farrington says.
Some of those partners are people in the community who have given their time and resources to offer help to those in need. Camille does double duty as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Montgomery Corps. From ringing bells for the Red Kettle campaign to donations of food and clothing, local volunteers are a key part of what The Salvation Army has to offer. “We always need volunteers at our soup kitchen. We also utilize the volunteers at our donation center to help with sorting the donations that come in.” Camille says.
As for Stanly, he says that he has further to go. He has completed classes and now works two jobs, seven days a week. “It’s a lot of work, but being out in my old life, it was a lot harder.” Now, on his new path, Stanly hopes that those in need of help can find the same chance he did. “You’ve got to want it. I just want to say that if you’re out there and you’re looking for a turnaround in your life, give this program, The Salvation Army, a chance to just help you get it right.”