Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a 10-part series looking at the agencies that were awarded grant funds by the SHARE Foundation as the first partners in the new Violence Intervention Plan. Each installment, which runs on Wednesdays and Sundays through the end of March, looks at a different agency, what was funded by the grant and how it will help address crime and violence in the community.
The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program seeks to help families break the cycle of poverty and ultimately become self-sufficient.
The SHARE Foundation granted the El Dorado Salvation Army $63,000 for the Pathway of Hope program, which began in El Dorado in June, as part of the new Violence Intervention Plan, which focuses on six categories, five of which are directly targeted by the Pathway of Hope program.
The program specifically focuses on families, which means anyone who has children in their household who are 18 years old and younger, said Teri Smith, commanding officer for the El Dorado Salvation Army.
The Pathway of Hope program accepts anyone who has a child and is re-entering society from an institution, whether it is a mental health institution, prison or similar institution. The program directly focuses on VIP categories: mental health, substance and drug abuse, jobs and targeted education, parenting and life skills, and mentoring and role models.
“Everything that we do with this is about being a good citizen,” Smith said. “Each little success builds on the other and every time they have a success, we’re going to be there to congratulate them, encourage them and celebrate with them.”
According to the Salvation Army website, children who live in poverty for half of their lives are 32 times more likely to remain in poverty, meaning the epidemic is passed down from one generation to the next.
“What we want to do is help them not be so dependent on the system that it becomes their budget,” Smith said. “We want to be able to help them help themselves.”
Smith described the program with the saying, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
To become part of this program, there are five assessments that families must go through, which can take up to a month and a half.
“It’s not a quick thing,” Smith said. “What we do is we’re measuring if they are ready.”
The El Dorado Salvation Army currently has two case managers, each of which can have a maximum of five families with the program at a time.
The case managers will meet with families to find out what their goals and dreams are and what is needed to be done to accomplish them.
The progress of the families will be tracked by the case manager. The expectation will be for families to have a mentoring session at least once a week, and more if needed, Smith said.
Toward the end of the program, as families start advancing, reaching their goals and becoming more self-sufficient, Smith said the organization and case managers will slowly back off.
The program seeks to help families fill gaps in their lives, whether it be educational, financial or other needs.
Each family will have different needs and goals. Smith said the Salvation Army will be partnering with other agencies in the community to use their services to help their Pathway of Hope families.
“If someone is illiterate, we’re going to go towards the Literacy Council and ask them to help us with that person and their education,” Smith said. “That could be resume writing along with learning how to read and have better reading skills.”
Program participants also will be mentored in a spiritual direction.
Though the program is not about numbers, Smith said that in the next two years, if they have had an impact on 15 families, then the organization will have an impact on generations.
There are currently two families in the Pathway of Hope program, and two more going through the assessment process.
“We want to give them as much resources as we possibly can to help them but then we can slowly back off because it’s their goals, their desires, their wants and wishes,” Smith said. “And we want to be able to allow them to have that accomplishment.”
Once it’s built up, Smith anticipates the organization will be assisting 10 families at a time through the Pathways of Hope program.
“The goal of this is not to have a multitude of people because you can’t effectively walk along side people when you have a multitude of people,” Smith said. “The intention is that you are walking alongside a small group of people that you can speak things into their lives.”
The $63,000 will go toward bill assistance, staffing, mentoring needs and eventually a possible transitional type housing, Smith said.
“We are very excited about what God is doing,” Smith said. “We already had the program in mind and we already had the factors going, so God confirmed it even more so with the granting money we got from the SHARE Foundation.”
Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or email@example.com.