The Pathway of Hope Program Helps Keep Hope Marching On
When you give to The Salvation Army this holiday season, your donation helps make sure that Hope Marches On. One of the many Salvation Army programs that has been working to keep hope marching on since its inception is Pathway of Hope.
The Salvation Army Western Michigan Northern Indiana Division incorporated Pathway of Hope into its vast umbrella of services in 2012. Since that time, the program has positively impacted the lives of nearly 600 families across the entire 45-county boundary.
“Pathway of Hope creates opportunity, inspiration, and a holistic approach to help families live their best life. It is a privilege to help support families in this capacity, and we welcome the opportunity to expand services by serving more families through this lens,” said Elizabeth McClintic, divisional coordinator for Pathway of Hope.
Pathway of Hope is a free goal-setting program that helps families with children increase self-sufficiency and combat generational poverty.
“Rather than giving people a band-aid for what they need that day, Pathway of Hope tries to get more at the root of the issue of why they keep needing assistance,” said Melanie Weaver, director of social services at The Salvation Army of Holland. “It’s longer term than emergency assistance and really helps to walk alongside people in their life journey and give them that support and encouragement.”
To be eligible for the program, all families need to have is at least one child living in the house that is under the age of 18 and have the motivation to achieve their personal goals; with a little help from a Pathway of Hope cheerleader. Families commit to voluntarily meet with a Salvation Army worker 2-3 times a month for 6-12 months, depending on what the family wants to achieve.
“You have to meet them where they’re at and what they want to work on, and then just build from there,” Weaver said.
Families determine their future and goals, while The Salvation Army helps orchestrate action steps that lead to goal achievement. Some examples include parents continuing their education, seeking improved employment, reducing debt, and achieving greater financial freedom. There are sure to be several smaller goals along the way or stepping-stone goals attached to a larger goal, such as getting the family car repaired so the parent has reliable transportation to work. Every quarter, the worker and family will reevaluate their goals to celebrate the progress each family makes.
“Whatever my families want to work on is what we work on,” said Kacey Ramones, Pathway of Hope case manager at The Salvation Army of Kent County. “Each week, they’ll take something to do to work toward their goal and I’ll take something to help them. A lot of the families who are in the program say they like the accountability, it helps keep them on track to work toward their goals.”
Some families visit the program after or while currently experiencing a crisis or significant life event and are seeking help. They want to make a change to improve their situation but could benefit from guidance on where and how to get started.
“Walking through this front door is a huge step and just congratulating people for getting here and wanting to try is the first step,” Ramones said. “I get a lot of people in the chair you’re sitting in now who are homeless, who are hungry, who have struggled with substance use or lost their children in the system and they’ve been beaten down. The fact that they’re even willing to give this another shot, I congratulate them and say ‘you didn’t give up, the world was against you and you didn’t give up. You’re here, you’re still fighting, I can work with that.’”
The Salvation Army journeys alongside families, encouraging them toward their goals and being a navigation source to make connections to other social service resources The Salvation Army offers or is available through another community agency to connect the dots of what each family needs at a particular moment.
“They learn how to handle things that came up in their life I think better after having participated in Pathway of Hope,” Weaver said. “We aren’t just giving them a handout, we are helping them be able to gain life skills through the program.”
When you give to The Salvation Army this Christmas, you help families get this kind of help achieving their own goals and becoming self-sufficient. You help Hope March On.