Pathway of Hope Helps Break Cycle of Poverty
Meeting Alexius today will communicate that a single mom can balance the care of two preschool sons, work and attend college part-time. The next question may be, “What vitamins does she take?” or, “Where is her ‘Wonder Woman’s cape”? Alexius is not trying to portray that she has all the answers and that her life is easy or all good. In fact, as she relates how she found herself at The Salvation Army for help, it is transparently clear that overcoming defeat and barriers is a common thread in her life.
In November 2016, Alexius had escaped domestic violence from a boyfriend. She knew that she had to leave with her 19-month-old son and her unborn child. It was a step of courage and hope. No one knew. She kept her smile as she worked and took online college classes while she and her son slept in her car and spent time at fast-food restaurants and friend’s houses. Alexius prayed and asked God to help her find shelter and safety.
Through another community resource, Alexius and her son were referred to The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope emergency shelter operated by the Central Arkansas Command in Little Rock. Alexius recounts that the moment she laid her head on the pillow and felt the bed, she knew she was in a place of safety and compassion. The shelter holds happy memories for her. She was shocked that someone honestly wanted to help her and not consider her just another “sob story.” Alexius knew that this opportunity at the shelter was crucial for her family. Alexius fulfilled not only her work, school and family responsibilities, but she willingly fulfilled shelter policies and did her share of shelter chores. Maybe this is where she began to discover her “Wonder Woman” cape.
In mid-December 2016, the shelter case manager recommended Alexius for the Pathway of Hope initiative and supportive housing.
Alexius began her Pathway of Hope journey of transparency of failures and barriers, but she also began setting goals and action plans for an even better opportunity. In January 2017, Alexius and her son, Princeton, moved into a Pathway of Hope apartment, and in April 2017, she welcomed another son, Peyton, to her home and family. Alexius focuses on having a safe, healthy and loving environment for her sons. She is thriving in her goals and was able to make sure she was three months ahead in her budget.
Alexius has gained valuable insights she would share with other single moms.
“Even in your darkest hours, when you are about to give up, pray and never stop praying. Stay strong, keep the faith, and pray, pray, pray,” she said. “When you are afraid and feel alone, pray. You might have nothing, but God has something else for you. Set your priorities, develop a routine, find balance, and stick with your budget. As a single mom, it is not easy in anything. However, my goals of a college
degree, a better job and buying a house for my family are worth it. Pathway of Hope has given me and my children someone who sincerely cares about family and stability. It inspires me to take the next step.”
As we wrapped up our visit, my heart was overflowing with praises for God’s redeeming love and hope for Alexius and her family. I walked away tired, not due to only a day’s work, but because Alexius and I had intermingled our interview with an energetic toddler who wanted to play ball, and her infant son who needed a bottle and a nap. Alexius inspires me as a case manager in advancing Pathway of Hope for the next family. I wonder if she will let me borrow her cape.
The Pathway of Hope in Central Arkansas The Salvation Army Central Arkansas Area Command in Little Rock implemented the Pathway of Hope with one family in July 2016. By February, we had 11 families enrolled. To date, a single mother has completed her Pathway, graduating with her employment and education goals achieved. She has moved out of state with her three children and is doing well as she continues to work toward stability and sustainability. Ten families are now participating in the Pathway – 12 adults and 18 children ranging in age from infancy through 17 years. Nine families live in supportive housing provided through a private donor; it is off site at a Little Rock apartment complex. Seven of the adults have college hours, and one is actively enrolled in a college degree program. Four have high school/GED diplomas, and one family is working toward the GED. We are preparing the families to transition to sustainable housing by spring 2018, and we will continue their case care management. Also, our Pathway of Hope is collaborating with Immerse Arkansas, a nonprofit that works with young people ages 16 to 21 who are aging out of foster care. Rhonda Tollett is a Pathway of Hope caseworker for the Central Arkansas Command