Hope Marches On for Mothers through Pathway of Hope
On a usual weekday, Kacey Ramones will see two, sometimes three, of her Pathway of Hope families in Kent County. There are nine families total she meets with on a weekly basis, all of them working toward meeting the goals they have constructed. No day or week looks identical, and no two families have the same goals or past experiences.
While Pathway of Hope is open to all types of families, it just happens to be that Ramones’ case load right now is all single mothers.
Earlier in 2021, Ramones – with over a decade of social work experience – saw an opportunity to provide additional support for each mother.
“We lost so much during the pandemic. I could see all of these women talking to me independently but not having networks to talk to anymore and not having other moms to connect with who are having the same struggles,” she explains of where the idea for her “Mom’s Group” came from.
Since June of this year, the Mom’s Group has been meeting once a month for an hour or so at the Fulton Heights Community Center. Breakfast is provided and members of the Fulton Heights Women’s Group runs free childcare. Basic necessities such as diapers and laundry soap are frequently used as free door prizes. Fulton Heights Corps Officer Auxiliary Captain Grace Roinila will help to supply children’s clothing for the mothers to take.
The group usually starts with Capt. Grace offering 15-20 minutes of worship and devotions. That is followed by Ramones giving an update to the mothers on what is going on at The Salvation Army and what other Army programs and services are available to them. She’ll inform them of community happenings and what other agencies in the area have programs her mothers could benefit from. And then there is always an activity.
“A big thing with Pathway of Hope is reaching your dreams and your goals,” Ramones said. “For the last two months, we’ve been doing dream boards. They’ve been creating their goals visibly on posterboard, so they can see that and they have that visualization of what they want to work toward. Sometimes if you can’t see it and it’s not tangible, you feel like you’re going to give up. We listen to music and we talk. They network and we pray, for them and for each other. It’s just been a wonderful thing to come together and to have them meet each other, become friends and rely on one another.”
One of the mothers, in fact the very first family Ramones started assisting last November, is on target to graduate from the program this year.
Ericka*, a single mother of two young children, came to Pathway of Hope seeking guidance. She was working full time, but her hours were bizarre, and she was not happy. She wanted to go back to school but expressed some hesitancy because of a learning disability. Reliable transportation was a problem to be resolved too as she was relying solely on public transportation.
Between Ericka’s tax refund dollars and funds from Pathway of Hope, she was able to purchase a used car to improve her mobility.
“The mobility gave her the opportunity to go back to college, to connect with the disabilities department, and she’s about to finish up her first semester of college,” Ramone said. “She’s still working full-time, she found a different job that she’s happier at and fits her schedule better. She has a stable
home for her daughter and her son. She’s happier than she was a year ago and I consider that a success story.”
Reaching goals can be tough, especially when some families are visiting Pathway of Hope after having experienced a crisis on some level. Ramones always makes a point to congratulate her families on entering the building and taking the first step toward a brighter future, not just for themselves but for their children.
Goals are set by the family. Ramones does her part to help, whether that’s sending emails with links to applicable job postings to a busy mother with limited time to job hunt, searching online for a more stable place to live for her families, or being a listening ear to a family that just needs someone to listen to them that day.
“I always use the word accountability when describing Pathway of Hope because so many of us have goals that we want to achieve,” Ramones said. “I am there to help you toward meeting your goal because sometimes people get knocked down and they have a hard time getting back up. Hopefully by spreading my passion for Pathway of Hope, more people will be interested in joining and contributing to help because there are so many people who have very achievable goals but they’re afraid to take that first step.”
As far as working toward those goals, there has to be a certain level of trust between Ramones and her families. The fact that the program is completely voluntary certainly plays a role, as does Ramones’ optimistic outlook.
“Ultimately, sometimes self-disclosure helps. I didn’t come from a perfect family. I understand these things on a personal level sometimes, I’m human. And it helps when people realize that the person they’re sitting across from has also struggled and is also a human and has bad days.”
When families, like Ericka’s, reach their goals, Ramones says it encourages her to push the next family toward their finish line.
“I wanted to be the hands and feet of Christ and that may sound corny, but Jesus was out walking with those who were struggling and that’s how I see my role too. I want to be like Jesus and emulate those traits of Christianity. It makes me feel extremely proud to see my ladies graduate and go out into the world spreading that same compassion, joy and faith that is so needed right now. I’m hoping that they bring that accomplishment and light to others that The Salvation Army brought to them.”
*Name changed to protect identity