Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Guests at Center of Hope celebrate Salvation Army Week

 The Salvation Army means a new start for a young family at the Center of Hope

Bethany and Greg Bristol and their daughter Mkenzie, age 2, moved into The Salvation Army Center of Hope homeless shelter and social services center Dec. 10, 2012. I first met them at the monthly birthday party the Center of Hope holds every month for children staying there. I always think, and hope, that after four years of working for The Salvation Army I’ve left stereotypes of people who are homeless behind me, but upon meeting the couple and their toddler, I was once again surprised.

Bethany and Greg have a clean cut, wholesome, all American appearance that you would expect of someone like Greg, who has earned his Associates degree from TCC and also studied computer technology at the University of Tulsa. Bethany is the picture of the busy but happy mom, doting on Mkenzie’s every move.

But like many families staying in the Supportive Housing Program at the Center of Hope, they experienced a series of circumstances that ended with homelessness. It started with Greg losing his job. Then he was unable to find a new job because the car broke down, then they lost their home because of lack of income. They stayed with a friend until they needed to leave before they wore out their welcome. It’s a story I’ve heard many times.

What does The Salvation Army mean to them?

Bethany said that she was expecting “horrible, bad stuff” at the Center of Hope, such as prostitution, drug use and theft. “It has absolutely been the opposite. Tara and Kelley (their case managers) are amazing ladies. They really care about us. The name ‘Center of Hope’ is absolutely perfect for this place,” Bethany said.

 “It’s given us stability and a place to start again,” Greg said.

And that's what The Salvation Army means to them.

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