The Salvation Army reaches 2000th family through Pathway of Hope initiative

By: Brad Rowland

Since its national launch in 2015, The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative has helped families break the cycle of intergenerational poverty through strength-based case management, community collaboration, and data-driven support. In June 2021, Pathway of Hope reached a milestone in Leesburg, Fla., reaching its 2000th family in the USA Southern Territory.

“The Pathway of Hope approach, which is a more holistic approach to helping families over a longer period of time, is now the norm,” said Ronald Skeete, Pathway of Hope director for the Southern Territory. “That was really the goal. It’s now the way we work. When we engage with families, or even single individuals, our approach is different and better. It’s more than a band-aid. We have better opportunities to more strategically connect people to resources that help them to thrive and escape poverty.”

More than 7,000 individuals have been served in the Southeast, including more than 4,000 children, and 470 families have completed their self-sufficiency goals. 78 percent of families have developed personal action plans, more than 60 percent reduced barriers to success, and hundreds of families have benefited from pastoral care services.

While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Pathway of Hope implementation in many areas, the initiative is on track to meet its goals, with Skeete citing “terrific teams across our territories of talented, experienced and committed staff” as well was “forward-thinking and devoted leaders who do all they can to ensure more families break the cycle of crisis and intergenerational poverty.”

There is a national goal to transform the lives of more than 100,000 families by increasing hope and stability, and The Salvation Army showcased its versatility and passion to meet the needs of individuals and families during a challenging time.

“The pandemic affected us in many ways,” said Skeete. “On the positive side, we were able to transition to virtual engagement pretty quickly and pretty effectively. Our focus also was forced to move from growth to being able to sustain and maintain, simply due to circumstances. We wanted to make sure we were connected with people during a difficult time.”

Skeete indicates several keys to success for Pathway of Hope. They include resolving the root causes of poverty, focusing on holistic strengths-based case management, and the rigorous collection of data for the purposes of analysis and reporting. Pathway of Hope takes the traditional crisis response of providing food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities and furthers that work to solve the big-picture problem of poverty within families.

In addition to providing the structure and care needed to provide overarching case management, Skeete cites income gains as a significant key to helping Pathway of Hope families break the cycle of poverty. The Salvation Army sees great progress in this area, with an average annual income increase of more than $6,000 for Pathway of Hope families.

“Pathway of Hope is helping The Salvation Army move from transactional to transformational,” Skeete said. “It’s one thing to meet someone’s physical needs and wish them well, but it’s another thing to have an ongoing, long-term relationship where we are not only helping the household but also engaging with the family in an overall, holistic sense. Those relationships can help to instill hope in people and that’s what it is all about.”