“I am sick of people begging for money on the streets… why don’t they just get a job, go back to school or take responsibility for their lives?" I am sure you have all heard this common complaint.  Poverty is a serious and complicated issue, but the simple answer is that many times, these individuals have lost hope and confidence in themselves. Whether they were born into poverty, or experienced a hardship, the resulting despair can be very difficult to overcome.

At The Salvation Army, we know that a lack of hope is one of the primary obstacles to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. So we developed a new method called Pathway of Hope that uses a holistic approach to providing targeted services to families. We help them emerge from crisis and vulnerability and begin to develop stability and independence. Moreover, they do it themselves by taking control of their situation.

When we use the word Hope, we really mean it. In fact, we actually measure the level of hope these families are feeling at the beginning and the end of the Pathway of Hope process. The program isn’t easy. Working with a trained Salvation Army caseworker, the family members establish a plan for themselves and have to work hard to reach targeted goals at various points in the program. Goals are established based on their individual family needs and then a plan is tailored to help them be successful.

Pathway of Hope is more than a social service program; it is a fundamentally different way The Salvation Army engages people - working collaboratively with them to move from repetitive cycles of crisis toward achieving stability.

In the business world, we might call this empowerment.  It’s really a very similar concept, but one that brings not only success but also builds self-esteem and confidence that are so important to personal growth.

Last year alone in Metro Detroit, we enrolled 77 families and 26 have already completed the program. This year we have 56 families already enrolled. We identify families  for the program through our Corps Community Centers throughout Metro Detroit. Once enrolled, the caseworker meets with them to develop their plan, monitor their progress, talk about the barriers they need to overcome and help them celebrate their successes along the way. The process usually takes six to nine months.

We know the process works. It isn’t easy, but nothing worth doing ever comes without effort. The important thing is that these families do this for themselves with a little coaching from us. A little hope and a little help goes a long way.  

To find out more about Pathway of Hope, visit our Website at http://salmich.org/emi/Pathwayofhope