A Pathway to a New Life

Jul 3, 2023 | by Annie Beurman

Betrayal from a close family friend left Topeka resident Deborah (name has been changed to remain anonymous), bedridden from severe depression, in low-income housing, and afraid to go outside; all while pregnant at 35 years old. However, with her depression causing her to lose her nursing career, she began to brave the outdoors again to eat at The Salvation Army Topeka Corps Community Center. There she would find the Pathway of Hope program and Shelli Cammisa, both of which would change her life.

The Pathway of Hope program seeks to provide families with the tools they need to overcome unemployment, houselessness, financial problems, etc. Case Managers help to map out clients’ struggles and provide them with housing, financial assistance and budgeting, potential job opportunities, even furniture.

 Shelli Cammisa, Case Manager of Emergency Services/POH, made it her mission to get Deborah’s life back on track. Realizing Shelli was someone she could trust, Deborah opened up about the betrayal she had experienced.

“She gave me a hug where I could feel her heartbeat,” said Deborah. “She let me know that she could help me, that she was willing to help me, that I deserved to be helped.”

With Shelli’s leadership and her renewed determination to provide for her daughter, Deborah took classes to update her nursing credentials and obtain her driver’s license. The Salvation Army even helped with her utility bills and equipped her home with desperately needed furniture.

“If it hadn’t been for The Salvation Army, I’d probably still be sitting in my bed rotting away,” said Deborah. “They were able to reform my faith in God because I had lost faith in everything, including myself. They helped me find myself.”

Today, Deborah is back working as a registered nurse and happily parenting her two daughters as a single mother. She hopes to keep saving her money for the future.

“We’re in a great place right now in life,” said Deborah. “We’re not on assistance, we do not get welfare, we do not get low income, we’re not on section 8. We are free and clear.”

Shelli has always seen a drive in Deborah to free herself from her past, rarely needing to remind her to stay on track.

“She’s come a long way,” said Shelli. “She definitely is a go-getter. I have the highest hopes for her. I really do.”

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