Friday, April 5, 2013

Yes, people live there....

Toddlers at the Center of Hope
Thousands of people pass by our Center of Hope every day. The downtown facility is well known as an emergency shelter and place to get a hot meal. What most people don’t know is that there are actually families who live at our shelter. This program is called Supportive Housing and according to Supportive Housing Case Manager Kelley Maricle, it helps families who are willing to work toward self-sufficiency through case management, education and life skills training. The Center of Hope has 17 apartments for families in this program.

Center of Hope birthday party
Can you imagine if your life went off track in such a way that you ended up on the streets with your children with nowhere to turn? What if someone offered you a key to an apartment and the tools you needed to get back on your feet at no cost? That is exactly what this program does. The families in the program have to take it seriously and abide by all the rules but if they do, we can offer them a path to a brighter future.

What exactly does the program do? The program gives families—parent(s) with one or more children—a furnished apartment to call “home” while they address the issues that led to them becoming homeless. For some it is debt and poor money management, for others it may be a lack of job skills or training; there are many reasons that families seek out our help. Those in our program can stay in their apartment for up to two years while they attend weekly life skills classes where they learn budgeting, ethics, parenting and job hunting skills and much, much more. They also meet routinely with a skilled social worker to review their progress and ensure they stay on track.
There's a girl behind the flamingo!
This program helps families and residents all work together to make their time in the program enjoyable. Our staff helps them celebrate birthdays and holidays, but during my conversation with Kelley, she told me the families are always interested in doing more.
“They wish they could have cookouts and makeover nights, parent’s nights out and things like that.”   Unfortunately, the program funds don’t stretch that far so we are always looking for volunteers to help our families by offering their time and resources.
This program really does ensure The Salvation Army is Doing the Most Good; participants from our program leave ready to maintain their permanent housing with the skills they have learned during the time spent with us. If you would like to find out how you can volunteer with these families, call Jenny 918-587-7801.


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