Jessica's Christmas Story
Good people don’t plan for bad things to happen. Jessica Dwyer never planned for a debilitating disease. She never planned for a flooded basement that resulted in the loss of her family’s belongings. She never planned to lose her job. She most certainly didn’t plan on Santa skipping her house last Christmas. In August 2011, Jessica was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (IC), a severe bladder disease which limited her work. The disease went undiagnosed for years until she couldn’t take the pain anymore. Ongoing doctor’s office visits and surgeries made it difficult for her to work. Two months after the diagnosis, her basement flooded and the majority of her family’s clothes were lost. Jessica felt like she couldn’t catch a break.
And, just when she thought things couldn’t get worse, her disease forced her to lose her job. Michael, her husband of 18 years, then became the sole provider for their family making it difficult to provide for their two children, Austyn, 14, and Harmony, 9. With Christmas just around the corner, Jessica wanted to make sure that both of her children had something underneath the tree. So, he researched where she might be able to get Christmas assistance. In early December, she reached out to several organizations, but they all turned her down, citing either cutoff dates or children’s age limits. “I understood they had cutoff dates, but was shocked when organizations wouldn’t provide gifts for children over the age of 12,” she said. “Just because you have a teenager, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a Christmas, too.”
“No mother wants to think about not being able to give her children Christmas"
Jessica kept faith in God and found The Salvation Army. Two weeks before Christmas, The Salvation Army Dearborn Heights Corps Community Center provided toys, clothing and financial assistance... with no cutoff dates or age limits. “No mother wants to think about not being able to give her children a Christmas,” said Jessica. “It broke my heart thinking what a sad morning it would have been, but the support I received was amazing. The Salvation Army unconditionally welcomed me and made me feel loved .” The Salvation Army has inspired Jessica to do the most good for her community. Her goal is to get healthy and have her family participate as bell ringers during the next Red Kettle campaign. She is also developing a community donation drive with her church to help older teens so they won’t go without at Christmas.
The Salvation Army has lifted Jessica and her family’s spirit. Jessica didn’t choose to lose her job. She didn’t choose to be diagnosed with a painful disease. But, Jessica did choose to make sure her kids had a wonderful Christmas and The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit chose to help them.
Royal Oak's Afterschool Program
For years The Salvation Army of Royal Oak, Michigan has provided a safe, fun, helpful environment for children to come after school. Participants can expect a snack, home work assistance and a chance to make new and healthy friendships.
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When an illness hits, it often affects more than just the sick. When Dan Sheldon’s father fell ill in mid-2011 he stepped in, full force, to take care of him. This meant around-the-clock care and no time for a paying job. And when his dad was finally laid to rest, Dan made all attempts to keep their apartment, but there just wasn’t enough money. While flipping through the classifieds, he found a local homeless shelter where he stayed for more than a year. “They didn’t really help me, though,” said Dan. “We just sat there all day and went to church at night. When summer came around, they told us we could go to The Salvation Army in Royal Oak to shower. That’s where it all started.” Dan visited The Salvation Army Royal Oak Corps Community Center for a hot shower and a meal, but the support didn’t end there. Through the Royal Oak Corps, Dan has not only received food and shelter assistance, he’s also found employment at the Pontiac Corps Community Center doing maintenance work. The next step is for him to find a nice place to rest his head at night, and The Salvation Army is committed to helping him every step of the way. “Thank you to the volunteers and to the people who have donated. Thank you for what you did for me. It’s a whole new life,” he added. “[The Salvation Army] has shown me hope. [Those struggling] need to keep trying. Help is out there.”
Listen to his story here:
Outcomes are true measure of our success. How does The Salvation Army help break the cycle of poverty, homelessness and hunger? The answer is found in the stories of those we serve. The Bed & Bread Club® changes lives on a daily basis. Below are real life stories of individuals who were helped by The Salvation Army through the Bed & Bread Club®. Constance Hargrove is a single mom who lost her job during the economic collapse. Donations to the Bed & Bread Club help people like Constance get back on their feet and return to independence by providing two things we often take for granted: food to eat and a place to sleep.