The Salvation Army helps Georgia woman find ‘a stable job, happy marriage, and a fulfilling life’
By: Toni Baraka
The Salvation Army provides toys for kids, coats for the homeless, food for the hungry and countless social service programs year-round. That’s why the bells never stop ringing, because the coins and dollars dropped in a Salvation Army Red Kettle — as well as donations given outside of the Christmas season — will feed, clothe, house, uplift, relieve and support those individuals and families in need.
Victoria was one of those individuals helped by generous donors through The Salvation Army. After serving a prison sentence of six years, Victoria found herself living on the streets of Brunswick, Georgia. For seven months, she wandered around feeling helpless, confused, and alone – unsure of how to start rebuilding her life and make ends meet while navigating the unknown waters of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With nowhere to go and no support system to guide her, she became anxious and her future looked bleak. The daily struggle to find basic necessities became even more challenging as the pandemic caused generous city-goers to quarantine inside and food establishments to close. The fear and uncertainty of this unprecedented time added to her already stressful situation made her feel cornered and hopeless.
Just as her perseverance was about to run out, she learned of a Salvation Army shelter – a shelter that was open to anyone. This particular shelter differed from the others, as the people seeking its refuge from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic did not need to be Salvation Army clients to stay. Victoria was immediately drawn to the shelter because of its close proximity, ease of admission, and welcoming spirit – it looked like a second chance.
The shelter refueled her hope, nourished her body and soul, and inspired her to continue pushing forward. After her three-week stay in the shelter program, she decided to become an official Salvation Army client and transfer to the original Salvation Army homeless shelter in Brunswick, soon beginning the free, 90-day program centered around self-sustainability.
Through this program, Victoria was able to secure personal shelter, take classes on budgeting and other crucial life skills, and obtain a stable job as a warehouse worker on Saint Simons Island. She successfully graduated from the shelter’s program, created a solid foundation for her life, and fostered many meaningful relationships along the way. Because of her new skill sets and support systems, she no longer feels lonely, scared, or off track.
Victoria often comes back to visit the shelter’s staff and clients – people who she now describes to be lifelong friends. In one of her most recent visits, she shared the exciting news that she had reconnected with an old friend after leaving the shelter’s program – a friend in which she had fallen in love with and decided to marry.
A stable job, happy marriage, and a fulfilling life didn’t seem feasible just a few months ago for her, but with the assistance and support of The Salvation Army, Victoria has made it a reality.
Toni Baraka is the Divisional Communications Specialist for the The Salvation Army of Georgia.