The Johnson Family
When asked what brought her and her daughter Hayven to the Salvation Army's Emergency Shelter, Stephanie Johnson says, "I needed to get out of the hazardous environment I was in and gain my independence."
The Salvation Army is helping her achieve that goal. Stephanie began with eager participation by attending all life skills and education classes offered at The Salvation Army. Her persistence and positive steps are paying off. She has obtained employment and was promoted from the Emergency Shelter to the Transitional Living Center while she works and saves money.
Stephanie is particularly thankful for The Salvation Army's provision of a safe and stable environment for Hayven through this difficult time. Hayven, a very shy and sweet seven- year-old girl, is cared for by Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Counselors after-school until her mother returns from work. Mary Thomas, who works with Hayven every day says, "Hayven is such a beautiful little girl and I love her smile. I have seen her smile a lot more since her first day here. Whether she is telling me about her day at school or making an art project, she just seems happier."
Stephanie sums up her thoughts about the Salvation Army's Emergency Shelter program by saying, "This was the only place for Hayven and me to go. The Salvation Army has allowed me the time to get back on my feet. There is so much support and encouragement and no push or rush to just get back out into society. They want to make sure I can sustain myself and so do I."
Davota Irankunda, age 10, discovered The Salvation Army when she saw other children on her street boarding a bus headed for after-school activities. She approached Salvation Army Music Director Nathan Miller one day and asked if she could come too.
Davota's family are refugees from the country of Berundi in Africa. They have only lived in America for four years. With Davota's parents working multiple jobs just to make ends meet, it is difficult to provide their children with after-school activities.
Davota now attends the Salvation Army's music program and uses an instrument at no cost. According to Nathan Miller, "Davota has become much more self-confident as a young individual and more integrated into our society. She has grown up so much and has improved her talents as a musician." Additionally, Davota participates in Sunbeams, The Army's character building program for young girls, and attends Sunday School and Worship at The Salvation Army every week. And just to be sure the Salvation Army bus is coming for her and her siblings, Davota calls Nathan Miller around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
Davota's mother Serafina appreciates The Salvation Army's help with the family's adjustment to American culture and impact on her daughter's life. When speaking of The Salvation Army, Serafina says, "The Salvation Army has done so much for Davota. She is much more inspired and well-behaved since her time with The Salvation Army. Even her teachers at school see the changes and tell me she is improving."
As a single mother of a six-year-old and a full-time student, time is quite limited and life is challenging. Hoping for a brighter future, Kia Arnold attends classes every day at Eastern Kentucky University and usually does not finish until 6:00 p.m. She needed somewhere for her son Trayvon to go after school.
Kia's search led her to The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club where she enrolled Trayvon in the after-school program, basketball league and summer day camp. She is very pleased with her decision saying, "There aren't enough good things I can say about Trayvon being involved with the Boys and Girls Club at The Salvation Army. Trayvon is able to develop socially, spiritually and educationally. The staff is so diverse and friendly, and Trayvon is able to get help with his homework. He loves being able to get on the computer to study and research new things."
Linda Wilson, a volunteer tutor who works as a teacher for Fayette County Public Schools says, "Trayvon has matured so much since his first day here. He came in and showed that he was not very confident in himself. Now he is very self-motivated. His grades are improving and he is choosing to read books that are even difficult for his grade level."
The Butler Family
Gabrielle Butler, a single parent caring for five children, works part-time in a local day care and goes to school. How does she manage to do all this, put food on the table and maintain a home? Gabrielle gives much credit to The Salvation Army and the care given to all five of her children.
Gabrielle says, "The Salvation Army has kept me going during the times when I felt like giving up. The staff have told me they notice how hard I'm working to better myself and life for my children."
All of Gabrielle's children are enrolled in Salvation Army programs. Afton, the youngest, attends the Early Learning Center. According to his teacher, Miss Marie, Afton particularly enjoys music and having stories read to him. Atlas, Kennedy, Kenneth and Keon attend the Boys and Girls Club after-school program and have benefited from the technology center, homework help and attention from caring counselors.
Gabrielle has high praise for The Salvation Army noting, "My children have become more responsible. I will be completing my education in the next few weeks and that would never have happened if it weren't for The Salvation Army."
"It is wonderful to know I have a caseworker who prays for me; especially when I am having a down day." - Phyllis Strings
Phyllis Strings, a lifelong Lexingtonian, found herself unemployed, unable to pay her rent after having gone through all her savings, and homeless at the age of 58.
Phyllis vividly recalls the day she sought refuge at The Salvation Army. "I was down and depressed. I was crying and I kept thinking nobody is going to hire a woman over fifty years old," states Phyllis. According to Phyllis she did not receive pity, but encouragement, hope and help from Salvation Army staff. Since her arrival, Phyllis has attended a variety of classes to prepare her for work, has obtained employment, has progressed to the Salvation Army's Transitional Living Center and is saving money for housing.
While Phyllis is grateful for all of The Salvation Army's services, she is particularly thankful for the emotional and spiritual support she has found. As she puts it, "It is wonderful to know I have a caseworker who prays for me; especially when I am having a down day."
People Need A Place To Call Home --Tonya's Story
Life changed suddenly for Tonya Harley and her two small children, four-year-old Laree and one-year-old James. Tonya's husband, the primary bread winner of the family, left. Around that same time, Tonya became critically ill. While battling for her life, Tonya says she clearly sensed the presence of God. Tonya recounts, "During my illness, I rededicated my life to God. God assured me He would take care of us." After recovering, life seemed only to get harder. Tonya became unemployed, her car broke down, and she fell far behind in her rent. "We lost everything in the worldly view. It's a big change when you are able to provide for your kids and one day you are not." Still Tonya says she had peace when entering the Salvation Army's Emergency Shelter. A longtime supporter of the Red Kettle Campaign, Tonya knew The Salvation Army would help.
According to her caseworker, Tonya actively worked toward becoming self-sufficient. She attended a number of life skills and education classes offered at the Shelter, and completed a Certified Nursing Assistant course at a local college. While attending classes, Tonya's children were loved and nurtured in the Salvation Army's Early Learning Center.
Within six months, Tonya left the Shelter, better educated, more confident, and having secured employment and an apartment for her family.