The Salvation Army Stringer Emergency Lodge has the mission to move families and individuals from crisis and vulnerability, to stability, and eventually self-sufficiency; and to create safe places to hope.
We received a call on Wednesday, from a partner agency employee, who had noticed a family in a retail parking lot. Something seemed different, and it was apparent that the mom, and two kids were not there just shopping. It was obvious that, this family was living in the back of their pick up truck, with a tarp pulled over the bed.
Sometimes parents avoid help as long as possible. They often fear repercussions for kids not being in school, or are hopeful that friends and family may offer support. When this doesn't happen, many families live in vehicles, storage units, or unsafe shelters.
It was a blessing that one of our family rooms was open, and we were able to say yes to this mother and her children. I often take for granted the blessing of having a safe place for my kids to sleep, and the ability to take care of their practical needs.
Last year, in America, close to 17,000 parents and kids, in families, were forced to sleep on the street. Family homelessness is the fastest growing segment at around 30-40% of all socially displaced persons being kids. This impacts children in a deeper way then we sometimes realize. There is a dramatic increase of negative health and wellness issues that compond, and it can create long term deficit in kids. Finding a pathway into immediate shelter, and permanent housing is critical.
I could go on with statistics, and models of care, but when recently asked what was the secret ingredient to long term success, my first answer wasn't, effective case management, or a strong emphasis on employment readiness; these are all essential, but the greatest tool I have witnessed in transforming lives, is hope.
Hope is powerful. Safe places to hope are critical.
I witnessed the seeds of hope today as I noticed that this mom had the ability to give her kids a bath, and comb conditioner through their hair in a private room. Where I saw the notes of a preliminary budget written out for what rent and food would cost. There in front of me was hope.
'A safe place to hope' was created.
learn more about our shelter program, and ways to give.