Pathway of Hope families see success in self-reliance
By: Brad Rowland
The Pathway of Hope initiative, launched by The Salvation Army in 2011, arrived in the Southern Territory in 2015 with the goal of providing targeted services to families to take action in breaking the generational cycle of crisis and enabling a path out of poverty.
In Lake Charles, Louisiana, Pathway of Hope is in its infancy, existing for less than one year, but the early returns are strong and inspiring.
“Pathway in Lake Charles has been a wonderful way for our social work to move beyond a band-aid approach to poverty for our clients and into a long-term relationship with a case manager, who is able to meet clients where they are to provide ongoing support and services,” said Lieutenant LeAnna Marion, corps officer.
“We are able through this program to connect our clients with other community resources that fill a gap in our own for a more holistic program,” Lieutenant Marion said. “We have seen success in some of our clients reaching their own set goals with Pathway of Hope.”
Currently, Lake Charles has five families moving through the Pathway of Hope, with success stories both active and recent. One such triumph involves Alexis Pickens, a young mother of three children who came to The Salvation Army needing help and without a traditional support system.
“Alexis doesn’t necessarily have a strong family support system,” said Tina Nehls, The Salvation Army’s case management specialist in Lake Charles. “She doesn’t necessarily know what it’s like to have someone who would understand what she’s going through and have the ability to enable her to help herself. With Pathway of Hope, we’ve been able to do that with her.”
In a short time, Alexis garnered employment, housing and the stability to provide for her family. While her progress was incremental, her humble, sweet persona made an impact on those around her, and Alexis was able to overcome significant adversity, both financial and physical.
“These families, including Alexis, are just amazing,” the case management specialist said. “I’m not doing anything. It’s the families that are doing the work. They just need a little guidance or maybe need to be pointed in the right direction, but they’re doing the work.”
Other individuals and families are working through the Pathway of Hope, including some escaping abusive and damaging circumstances that go well beyond financial need. The Salvation Army is implementing motivational interviewing techniques in the Pathway of Hope, helping to understand where individuals seeking assistance are coming from and using that information to best serve others.
“I’ve always liked being a social worker, and I always felt like I was helping people,” Nehls said. “But this program is so different. The case management aspect is phenomenal. Instead of mainly trouble-shooting, we’re building relationships. We’re
getting to know these families and what they really need.
“We’re diving deeper and really helping to mold these individuals and families for the better,” she said. “I wish I could do it every day.”
Within a recent six-month period, multiple families enjoyed total transformations, from virtual helplessness in some cases to full, maintainable stability. That included not only the securing of stable employment and housing, but also the vital presence of genuine hope for the future.
“It’s amazing how God is working here,” Nehls said. “I’m sure he’s working in other places as well, but every one of my Pathway of Hope families has met every goal and set new ones. Little by little, everybody is enjoying success. Glory to God.”