The Path to Recovery
Wells County, IN - Pastor Neil Ainslie has seen a variety of needs volunteering with The Salvation Army. Whether it's food or utility assistance, he strives to connect his neighbors with the resources they need. Recently, though, Pastor Neil has seen something new - the local homeless population growing at an alarming rate. Serving these individuals has become a top priority for The Salvation Army, especially since many of these men and women are also struggling with addiction and are from out of town.
The shift began after a new addiction treatment facility opened in Wells County. Because of the high demand for rehabilitation services in Indiana, men and women from across the state began appearing in Bluffton to seek help. Many could not be admitted to the new facility or were discharged without means to get home. That’s were Pastor Neil and his team of volunteers stepped up to fill a new need in the community: caring for strangers far from home.
This care takes many forms, depending on each person’s situation. The local medical center contacts The Salvation Army when they are caring for someone who has been discharged for medical reasons. These patients often require temporary housing while Pastor Neil works to connect them with other facilities in Indiana, including The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Once a placement is secured, volunteers help to get the individual to the next facility or the Greyhound bus terminal in Fort Wayne.
“When we’re dealing with homelessness, our funds get eaten up pretty quickly for a small community,” Pastor Neil confided.
Red Kettle donations were down this Christmas, so there is less to spend in 2022. Currently almost two-thirds of the Salvation Army funds in the county are being used to help this new, transient population. “It’s a struggle of responsibility,” he added. “Even though they aren’t a part of our community, we are compelled as Christians to help anyone in need.”
There is also good that has come from this new challenge. Pastor Neil can see the hand of God in the situation, bringing men and women in great need to a place where The Salvation Army can give them support for their difficult journey of recovery. He sees his role as one of an encourager and guide, there to help ensure that hope isn’t lost and that every person he meets knows that God loves and cares about them.