The Army Essentials: An Adaptive Pathway towards Hope

May 11, 2021

Every year, The Salvation Army is honored to have a full week dedicated to celebrating our mission and shining a light on our organization's history. National Salvation Army Week is a great opportunity for new people to discover their local Salvation Army's work and long time supporters to receive thanks for bringing our mission to life every day in their communities.  

To celebrate here in the Heartland Division though, this year we wanted to look at what parts of our mission attribute to the unique successes we see across Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa. We are looking at some of the Army Essentials to celebrate National Salvation Army Week!

The Salvation Army's Pathway of Hope program is defined nationally as:

"A program created to provide targeted services to families wanting to break the generational cycle of poverty and enable a path out of constant crisis. It is rooted in a case management approach, focusing on the client’s individual needs and mastery of different life skills.

This program is designed to have an impact on how poverty affects multiple generations. By positively changing the lives of parents, The Salvation Army can create better living conditions for children. Educational and support programs for children in their development years are crucial."

Since its creation in 2011, this program has changed countless lives and provided a clear path for local families to reestablish their own happiness and stability. Specifically in the Heartland Division, Pathway of Hope has become a sort of adaptive language that our local Corps and Service Centers use to speak to the local needs of their communities. The flexible use of Pathway of Hope has become a signature way that the Heartland Division meets its communities in Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa.

Below are a few stories shared from previous Pathway of Hope clients that had their lives changed through the program's tailored and personal approach. These stories come from our friends and family in Sterling, IL who serve all of Whiteside County, but there are impacts like these being created all across our division's 24+ Corps and Service Center locations. The lives changed because of our local work are often times a result of this Army Essential: the Pathway of Hope Program!

Some of the names and/or information from these correspondences have been changed for privacy or continuity.


"As a mother of 6, things can be tough. An education or a trade/skills don't matter when you lose track of your faith. At the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, my partner lost his job and our truck's engine combusted. In the same month, I found myself violently ill due to a rare but dangerous pregnancy complication.

It seemed everything had fallen apart at the same time. Something that should have been seen as a blessing, crippled my ability to help my family. My partner had to stay home with our 5 children and myself, as slept in the bathroom, severely dehydrated and doing my best to try and function at all. Without the ability to work, to look for work, or to take care of my family- I reached out for help.

The help I was praying for was financial support, due to $1,000 in rent looming in the distance. We weren’t behind, but we soon would be. The thought of eviction truly terrified me. I had never been behind on my bills. I had never let my family down. I began reaching out, making phone calls and selling anything I could worth any money.

Eventually, through a local church, I was given the number of The Salvation Army. I should have known then that things were in God's control. The Pathway of Hope manager, Trevor, reached out to me and  promptly set up a meeting. I prepared myself by trying not to feel guilty for seeking help and asking for something I felt that should have been provided to my family by me.

In the first meeting Trevor offered nothing but help. He put my guilt at ease. He met my children, brought us groceries and asked if we needed anything else that he could provide. He taught me how to find resources that can help in a time of need. I was shown a way to track my finances, to follow my spending and to keep my head above water. Most of all, The Salvation Army's kind hand reached out to my family and showed me that God truly provides.

Soon, I found a medication to help maintain my pregnancy and my partner could then safely go back to work while I cared for my children. Trevor brought paperwork for myself and my partner to help us find fitting work. Through these applications, Eric picked up a job and quickly went back to work. Within two weeks, we had a paycheck and the ability to once again stand on our own feet. Trevor still extended his kindness, by bringing us furniture and checking in to make sure we didn’t need any other assistance.

This experience with Pathway of Hope showed me, that even though “financially” my family was in pain, it was my faith that was waning. As soon as The Salvation Army met us with kindness, I could see the work being done was truly from God reaching out and answering our prayers. We didn’t simply get  monetary donations, The Salvation Army gave us real help. Trevor showed us how to move back into the field of work, he taught me how to keep my family above water.

It had been almost a year since the pandemic began and we struggled more than we ever had. Now, we own 4 vehicles and are now buying our own house!

There is no doubt about it in my mind and heart, that we were touched by God in our time of utmost need through the goodness of Pathway of Hope and The Salvation Army."


"I was worked as a mechanic when one day a war veteran came in to get his car repaired, but soon found out that he couldn't afford the repair. I offered to do it at his home for a fraction of the cost to ensure he could still get around. While repairing the vehicle the jack failed and the vehicle crushed me.

That cost me my job and soon put my family into homelessness. We were living out of a loaned vehicle or staying in and out of campgrounds when we could afford it. After a couple weeks of showers and meals at truck stops, I began to question my options and what I could do to find local resources in my community. Unfortunately, my town was no help to my family or myself because I didn't meet certain requirements for aid. I turned next to The Salvation Army. I showed humility and shared my problems.

The Salvation Army placed my family and I in the Pathway of Hope program that helped us relocate to a hotel for a short time. This enabled me to immediately find a different job as my family had somewhere to be while I worked. The Salvation Army helped with everything possible and made sure my family had what was needed. I felt like I needed a miracle to get through all of this mess and so I kept my faith and kept praying. I ended up finding a job that payed well. I found a landlord willing to work with me after I gathered the courage to call and explain my situation. Although it wasn't the easiest thing to do, it needed done. After four calls to different landlords I finally found someone who was understanding of my situation but was still hesitant about the fully trusting me. I shared this update with The Salvation Army and they did not hesitate to help with a friendly phone call confirming my situation. This allowed me to move my family into a place and really start to regain the control we were desperate for just a few short weeks ago.

While working one day, a local business owner pulled me aside complimenting me on always being on time and taking care of his customers. He offered me a job with his company and I gladly accepted. After updating The Salvation Army on my progress, they told me that a vehicle had just been donated. I was in desperate need of my own vehicle that could replace the loaner that I still used. I accepted the their vehicle donation and still proudly drive it to this day.

Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone to achieve what's needed. Never be afraid to show humility and open up to someone else. You never know what doors might open through one simple action. My family and I will be forever grateful to The Salvation Army and the services they provide."


"I first went turned to the Salvation Army for assistance when I needed help paying my water bill. I was a little nervous and ashamed that I needed to ask for help."

"When I arrived, I met their Pathway of Hope manager, Trevor. It was really nice talking to him about the struggle I was facing and the issues I felt when having to ask for help. Our conversation was greater than I could have imagined. He told me to not feel ashamed and that everyone needs help now and then.

Not only did Trevor reassure me and help me with my water bill but he also knew I was trying to get a job again. He told me that The Salvation Army was going to help me with my water bill and also in getting a job. I didn't even ask for that help, but I needed it. I remember sitting there in shock and my glasses had only one arm and some tape was holding them together. Trevor assured me that he would get me new glasses too.

Trevor is and amazing person who not only helped me when I was down, but he is always there to listen to me when I’m having problems. He is always encouraging me to do different things and he’s always willing to pray for anyone in need. Trevor checks up on you to make sure your doing ok and to see if you need food or even help with anything. He would tell me to never be afraid to reach out for help with anything and assured me that The Salvation Army is there for me. Whatever problems you may be facing in life, The Salvation Army is always there with a willing hand to help you out and look out for you. I would like to thank The Salvation Army and Trevor for helping me when I needed it most and also believing in me even when I didn't."


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