Embrace Haven Builds Bridge Between Social Services and Corps

By: Laura Poff

Stephanie Winn first learned about The Salvation Army when a neighbor told her about Haven Atlanta, a drop-in center attached to the Atlanta Kroc Center that provides resources and support for women. She joined the program in 2014.

Though for several years she attended classes held at a corps, she didn’t initially realize The Salvation Army was a church. She met Lieutenant Bethany Yocum this past February. At the end of September, she’ll be enrolled as a South Atlanta Kroc senior soldier.

“It’ s been a long journey,” Winn said. “I feel like I’m at home here. I feel like we’re a family, and it feels really good.”

Lieutenant Yocum met Winn when starting an Embrace group with members of Haven Atlanta to build relationships with women connected to the program.

“The whole point was to let them know that I’m here and that I want to know their stories,” the lieutenant said.

At first, Winn refused to even sit at the same table as other members of the group, but over time, the deeply personal conversations pulled her in.

“We talked about deep stuff, stuff we wouldn’t share every day. Lieutenant Bethany shared her story, and because she was being really honest, it made me feel comfortable sharing mine as well.”

After a couple of monthly meetings, Lieutenant Yocum invited the group to attend women’s camp at Camp Grandview and Winn, to the corps. At the time, Winn was attending another church but didn’t feel connected there. She came to the Kroc center on Mother’s Day and has been coming ever since.

“I felt like I was in the right place,” she said of her first Sunday. When Lieutenant Yocum saw her sitting in a pew, she hugged her and told her she had made her day.

Winn quickly became involved in women’s ministries and Bible study classes. She joined the corps Embrace group while still attending the monthly Embrace Haven meetings that brought her to the church in the first place.

When asked why she wants to be a member of The Salvation Army, Winn said that she wants “to be around good people doing good things.”

She is an active volunteer, serving food and drinks to community members from the corps canteen and assisting with events in the neighborhood. When she encounters people who are struggling, she shares her story to bring them hope.

“I love being at The Salvation Army,” she said. “I’m looking forward to moving on and hopefully touching somebody’s life like Lieutenant Bethany touched mine.”