Mobile Mother and Newborn Living In Car Find Hope With The Salvation Army

Ms. J and her seven-month-old baby came to The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama’s Family Haven after spending a week sleeping in her car. Although she had been homeless on one other occasion as a child, she was reluctant to be living in a shelter. She and her infant son were newly homeless and were not aware of the social services available in the community. Ms. J was relieved after visiting the Family Haven, and she gladly moved into the shelter.

In addition to homelessness, Ms. J had many needs. Her vehicle was undependable and uninsured, she and her son were battling numerous chronic health issues, and she had no earned income and was in debt, including delinquent gas and electric bills, which would become extreme barriers to future housing options. Ms. J was diligent about developing and implementing a savings plan based on her TANF allotment until she could find gainful employment.

The Family Haven connected Ms. J with Housing First and helped her complete applications for several privately owned homes and income-based apartments. At first, it was a frustrating process. Many properties had an extensive waiting list. Ms. J continued her stay at the Family Haven past the standard three months. Although her physician recommended that she not work and apply for disability, Ms. J was determined to become self-sufficient and care for her family. Finally, she was able to secure employment and stable childcare.

Ms. J was accepted at one of the housing complexes of her choice but could not sign her lease until her delinquent utilities were paid and established in her name. Fortunately, The Salvation Army was able to assist her with the outstanding bill. After four months of staying at the Family Haven, Ms. J and her child moved into permanent housing with a subsidy.

Ms. J used her time at the Family Haven wisely by applying for housing, saving money, and finding ways to eliminate her debt. Her diligence made her a perfect candidate for The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative. Since participating in this program, Ms. J has gained more stable employment, established mainstream banking, and purchased a new vehicle. The program will follow Ms. J for the next two years helping her to eradicate generational poverty.

A Christmas Miracle: Homeless Woman’s Life Turned Around in 24 Hours

The Salvation Army of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Command Officers, Majors Bradley and Anita Caldwell, watched shelter one night. Only one woman came to stay at the shelter that night. She settled in and got to sleep, and the next morning she came to Major Anita Caldwell for a coat. It was frigid out, and she did not have one. On top of a pile of black bags filled with donations sat one coat. The coat was the only item that wasn’t bagged, and it fit her perfectly.

“It was just for her. I loved that. It was like a miracle,” Major Anita Caldwell explained.

The woman left the building with her new coat and all of her belongings and sat on the sidewalk because she had nowhere else to go. It was obvious that she had mental health concerns of some kind because she began talking to people around her and called for a dog or child to follow her, although there was no one around. The Officers had a scheduled food distribution first thing that morning and did not feel comfortable leaving the woman alone on the sidewalk. Concerned for her safety, Majors Caldwell contacted the Open Doors Homeless Coalition. By 3:00 PM that afternoon, the woman was in her own room in her own apartment, and the Open Doors Homeless Coalition had ordered a bed for her.

A Salvation Army social worker transported the woman to her new apartment, and Major Anita Caldwell made arrangements for the power to be turned on. The more incredible blessing in this story of miracles is that the woman was connected with the CHOICE Program to receive assistance for a year. The CHOICE Program works collaboratively with the Mississippi Department of Health, Mississippi’s Community Mental Health Centers, and Mississippi Home Cooperation to provide intensive case management and temporary rental assistance to make housing affordable throughout Mississippi for individuals with serious mental illness.

“To me, that is my Christmas miracle. I just love that. I couldn’t have put those pieces together in 24 hours if I tried to,” Major Anita Caldwell shared.
“Any other day, no one would know about her, but now someone can knock on her door and check on her,” Major Anita Caldwell added.

To learn more about how The Salvation Army Mississippi Gulf Coast Area Command, visit https://salvationarmyalm.org/msgulfcoast/.

 

 

 

The Salvation Army Helping Neighbors In Need During COVID-19 Throughout Alabama

The Salvation Army has been there for our neighbors in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few memorable events from Alabama Corps.

 

Coastal, AL

Ms. Casey M., a single mother of two teenage girls, was working as an event planner at a local country club. Her hours were severely cut due to the pandemic, and she had difficulty getting unemployment benefits. She was unable to pay her rent and needed help until government assistance kicked in. The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama Area Command received funds from several local foundations for rent and utilities. The Salvation Army helped her with rent payments to keep current. She was so grateful that she reached out to her social worker and send an email saying, “Thank you so much for your help through all of this. This has been a dark time in my life, but you have been a shining ray of hope! Our community is blessed to have someone so devoted to its citizens and to our Lord!

Dothan, AL

The Salvation Army of Dothan received a call from a single working mother of three, requesting rental assistance. She explained that she was working the dayshift at the prison, which worked perfectly with her children’s school day and enabled her to not have childcare. Her hours were cut and changed to a 3 pm-12 am night shift when the pandemic began. She was forced to resign her position as she could not pay her bills or childcare with the reduced hours, and her new schedule would interfere with her children’s school schedule. A United Way Covid-19 grant was able to provide rental assistance for the mother. Her landlord had communicated with The Salvation Army that this was the first time she had ever had an issue paying rent or late notice.

Throughout the rental assistance process, this client was active in looking for employment. She has shared that the rental assistance she received through our program allowed her to keep her household together. She reports that she is currently employed, and the family is working hard to get back on their feet.

Florence, AL

While The Salvation Army of Florence was able to assist many individuals and families during the Covid-19 crisis, with many services ranging from financial assistance and food provision, one instance stands out above the rest. Thomas and Brenda, along with their 18-month-old daughter, all contracted the virus around the same time. As you can imagine, this has been very strenuous for the entire family as sickness had been intense, and the financial impact was significant. Amid their struggle, The Salvation Army provided them with daily meals through our Community Care Ministries and provided other personal and comfort items as they pressed through. The family is on the mend, and financial stability will be restored. The services provided daily free up their funds to be used for other financial needs.

Decatur, AL

Sarah Jones, a client in The Salvation Army of Decatur food pantry, has gone through a long and arduous journey over the past year. She and her husband had some severe addiction issues that needed to be addressed and treated. The Decatur Corps was able to advise them on some local treatment options in a community outpatient capacity. Their children were placed in foster care by the Department of Human Resources of Lawrence County and had a safety plan, which they needed to follow.

Throughout the process, Mr. & Mrs. Jones maintained a positive outlook through spiritual and medical guidance, leading them to become better parents and better people. The Salvation Army of Decatur ensured all their most basic human needs were met through the food and clothing assistance provided. Many clients that come into the food pantry for assistance are experiencing a short-term emergency need. However, there is an opportunity to provide guidance and direction to those who ask for help.

The Decaur Corps kept up with the ongoing treatment schedule and progress with Mr. & Mrs. Jones and liaised with the Department of Human Resources whenever information was requested. They completed their treatment program and satisfied all the requirements of the safety plan. Supervised visitation was the first step for them, but eventually, they regained custody of their children. The Salvation Army was able to assist them with food, clothing, household essentials, and assorted kitchen necessities for their new home, and their outlook on the future is significantly improved.

Montgomery, AL

During the COVID pandemic, when people were getting laid off from work, The Salvation Army of Montgomery helped one of our male residents establish a new career in inpatient care in a local senior living facility. Officers taught him about saving money and operating his life on a budget. The Montgomery Corps was able to partner with a couple of local agencies to get the client a fully furnished three-bedroom house and assist him with purchasing his own vehicle to cut back on transportation expenses. The client reports that he is still working on the job now and doing well.

The Salvation Army Helping Mississippians Throughout COVID-19

The Salvation Army has been there for our neighbors in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few highlights from Mississippi Corps.

Jackson

A disproportionate number of lower-income Mississippians have been impacted by COVID-19. The Salvation Army Jackson has canceled all community programs in their facilities, with the desire to keep their community safe and to follow CDC recommendations.  However, they are delivering boxes of food and supplies to the homes of 70 seniors who have come to rely on hot, nutritious meals at their facilities. The Corps social worker also checks in with the seniors on a regular basis and holds Sunday school via telephone a few times a month so that seniors are able to keep in touch with one another and maintain a sense of community with The Salvation Army.

Hattiesburg

No story sticks more than any other except serving the 425+ who came to The Salvation Army of Hattiesburg every Thursday this summer during for Food Distribution day. This day was made possible with the help of the Farmers to Families program and E&B Grocery in Hattiesburg. Through this program, clients received meat, vegetable, and dairy boxes from E&B Grocery.  Donations have included bags of potatoes, onions, milk, Lunchables, tortillas, bleach, and several other things. This program would not be possible without the help of the incredible Hattiesburg community partners.

Vicksburg

A client was laid off from work at the daycare because of the COVID-19 restrictions. The daycare closed and has not yet re-opened. The client looked for a new job for four months without any luck. In May, The Salvation Army of Vicksburg was able to help with her electric bill. In July, she returned for assistance with her water bill. Her water had been shut off for a few weeks, and she was making due. The Vicksburg Corps supplied her with drinking water and spoke with the water company about paying the bill. An agreement was made so that the water would be turned back on the very day the Salvation Army paid the bill. There was a delay in writing the check, and it wasn’t ready until Friday. Since we wanted her water turned on as soon as possible, the corps officer hand-delivered the water bill, so her water was turned on before the weekend.

Greenwood

A young lady with four children was just laid off from work and just had a house fire that took all she had. We gave her a clothing voucher so she could have clothes for herself and her children. The Salvation Army of Greenwood agreed to furnish her new home once ararngements were made. Since the Greenwood Corps doesn’t have a shelter, corps officers supplied the young woman with a week’s stay in a hotel and helped her make arrangements to stay in a nearby local shelter. We ended our time together with a word of prayer. We are hoping that she would be willing to participate in our pathway of hope program ministry.

Salvation Army Laurel Helps Families Through COVID-19, Bankruptcy, and Hard Times

The Salvation Army of Laurel’s Emergency Food Assistance program has dramatically increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bankruptcy, health conditions, and lack of government assistance left a Laurel, Mississippi family strapped for money and food during the pandemic. Grandparents have become caregivers so that parents can work during the pandemic, resulting in a need for more food to keep children fed. The family turned to The Salvation Army for assistance and received weekly food boxes to aid them during financial recovery.

“We have been able to do weekly distributions due to community support and local food assistance programs. The family has since shared how this food has kept them from going hungry and how The Salvation Army’s outreach to this family has encouraged them during a difficult time in their lives. This is why we exist; to help our neighbors in need,” shared Major Raymond Pruitt, Laurel Corps Officer.

Another family applied through the Angel Tree program and needed bedroom furniture for their children. Laurel Corps Officers informed the community of the need to help this family. A donor saw news coverage of the need and purchased beautiful new beds for the family right away. The Salvation Army delivery truck needed repair and was unable to deliver beds to the family, so the donor also donated an additional $600 to pay for our vehicle to get out of the shop. The Salvation Army delivered the new furniture to the family, thanks to this giving individual.

“Our neighbors help us just as much as we help them. It’s a community effort to make sure everyone is well taken care of. We are so appreciative of our donors, and we’re blessed and thankful to be here to serve the Laurel community,” Major Pruitt shared.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Helping Neighbors Amid COVID-19

The Salvation Army of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Command has been busy helping our neighbors in need throughout the pandemic, whether through rent and utility assistance, grocery delivery, or just being a listening ear. COVID-19 has made it difficult for some people to get their medication, particularly those dealing with mental illness. Dave contacted The Salvation Army, and officers noted that he was angry and unsettled. The Salvation Army contacted a service provider who went to Dave’s home and helped him get the medications he needed. Dave became calm quickly and reached out to The Salvation Army again to share how thankful he was for the help.

Another group of people who have had an even greater need during the pandemic is senior citizens. Many Biloxi seniors feared going outside of their homes, and relatives were afraid to visit them, so meal services to seniors during COVID-19 were especially welcomed. Hot meals were provided first to all who needed them as a grab and go lunch. After a few weeks, the corps moved to senior meal delivery for those who could not leave their homes. Seniors are being delivered meals twice a week in the Biloxi community. A happy face delivering food to their doorstep is always much appreciated.

Walker County Delivers with Senior Feeding Program

One of the most considerable impacts made by The Salvation Army Walker County Service Center is its Senior Feeding Program. The program started in 2019, and services have amplified due to COVID-19. Volunteers and staff deliver groceries to between 250-300 seniors every week, with a high of 400 one week. Groceries are taken to the homes of seniors who cannot grocery shop for themselves due to illness, lack of transportation, or lack of money. The program caters to those aged 60 and above, with $600 or less a month.

“When we do this, I’m cautious about what I purchase for those bags of groceries because these seniors have no transportation. They don’t have a family who is active in their lives, so they don’t have someone to take them to the store,” stated Cynthia Smith, Walker County Social Services Director.

“They’re at a high risk to complications from COVID-19 because of underlying health conditions or old age, so we try to pack complete meals. If we supply a box of hamburger helper, we’re also going to be sure to supply the meat and milk to go with it,” Smith added.

The Walker County Service Center also works with a produce truck that comes on Thursday mornings at 6 AM to collect produce boxes, which typically contain milk, eggs, cheese, potatoes, and onions. Grocery bags are packed according to the supplies received from produce boxes. Reusable face masks are also placed in the boxes every few months to replace old or torn masks. Personal hygiene products, toilet paper, and other cleaning supplies are also included in the delivery.

The service center also partners with the Walker County District Attorney’s Office for senior meal delivery for seniors under mandatory isolation and quarantine. The Salvation Army provides and packs the groceries, and police officers will deliver them to seniors who cannot leave their homes.

“If they need sugar, it’s in there. If they need flour, it’s in there. We make sure to pack whatever they may need,” Smith stated.

“When we take groceries, we knock on the door to let them know that we’ve delivered the groceries and step away. We know them so well now that sometimes we exchange air hugs or they’ll blow kisses. Sometimes they cry. One woman cried because it had been years since she’d last seen peanut butter,” Smith added.

A Miracle Birthday Cake

The pandemic has been hard on many. Grocery delivery service needs have increased tremendously for The Salvation Army of Meridian, averaging at serving 100 people through the drive-thru food pantry a week. Although fighting the good fight can weigh heavy on officers and volunteers, there are always small miracles that serve as a reminder for why we do what we do here at The Salvation Army.

A woman came by the Meridian Corps Social Services to pick up a produce/pastry box. She came back to the door sobbing, explaining that her son’s birthday was the coming weekend and she didn’t know what she was going to do.  Miraculously, the only birthday cake that the Army had was inside the box she received.

“I didn’t know her need, but the Holy Spirit did! God blessed her and my heart that day,” The Salvation Army of Meridian Corps Officer, Lieutenant Tamara Robb, shared.

“It’s always such a blessing to see how the Holy Spirit works,” Lieutenant Robb added.

 

Walker County Service Center: “We’re more than just a thrift store.”

COVID-19 has impacted most communities in one way or another. Some have adjusted by working and learning from home, and others follow CDC guidelines with their office life. Some lost their jobs or received pay cuts that have altered the daily functioning of their lives. Some families suffered such financial hardship that they have turned to The Salvation Army for assistance with food, utilities, and holiday aid.

‘There’s just so much that The Salvation Army does. We are more than a thrift store,” stated Cynthia Smith, Walker County Service Center Director.

Although The Salvation Army provides food and hydration for our neighbors in need, we also provide financial relief amid COVID-19. People who have never been in the system before have reached out to The Salvation Army throughout 2020. Some have lost their jobs, had pay cuts, or gotten sick from COVID-19 and weren’t able to work, which meant they couldn’t pay their bills. Smith was able to get a grant for the Walker County Service Center to take care of all of anyone who needed aid’s bills for a month. It gave them a month of not having to worry about bills. The bill type didn’t matter (car note, insurance, utilities, etc.). If they showed a need, The Salvation Army would cover it.
“Now what we are seeing is people who are actually sick with the coronavirus who need assistance with their bills. We’re also dealing with house fires and other disasters this time of year,” Smith stated.

Other ways the Walker County Service Center offers assistance includes Project Share, where we cover utilities for seniors or anyone who is on 100% disability. The Army is also partnered with Daybreak Family Resource Center, which deals with domestic abuse. When women and children have a domestic violence situation, it’s through this program. It’s confidential and hidden away to keep them safe. Most of them leave home with nothing to escape the abusive situation. When they are ready to get back out on their own and get a new home, the Army supply’s them with food and household goods.
The Walker County Service Center is also partnered with the Department of Human Resources. Six children were taken from their parents due to substance abuse and placed with a great aunt and uncle. The new guardians didn’t have any clothes for the children or the resources to provide those necessities. Smith allowed the family to come into the thrift store after hours and let them shop for anything they needed, free of charge.

“A little girl came running across the center to me, and she had something cuffed in her hand. She looked at me and said, ‘Can I have this!?’ She was so excited, and I looked to see what it was. It was a pair of socks. She’d never had a pair of socks, and it meant the world to her. She received her first pair of socks at age four. These are the things that we can do,” Smith shared.

To learn more about what The Salvation Army does to serve the Walker County community, visit https://salvationarmyalm.org/walker-county/. To Support the Walker County Service Center, donate at SalArmyALMKettle.org.