Down for the Challenge rappeler once was homeless herself

Aug 27, 2021

Lisa of Minneapolis is participating in The Salvation Army’s Down for the Challenge rappelling event at Mall of America for the noblest of reasons: She wants to help people experiencing homelessness, because she once was homeless herself. 

Not long ago, Lisa was forced to live out of her car. She had fled an abusive relationship and had nowhere else to go.

“I never thought homelessness could happen to me,” Lisa admitted. “I used to be mean to homeless people. I thought all homeless people were homeless because they made bad choices.”

Her perspective is much different now. 

“Now I understand that it can happen to anyone,” said Lisa, who is back on her feet and doing well. “I never made bad choices or did drugs, and still I became homeless.”

These days, whenever Lisa sees people experiencing homelessness, she treats them with compassion.  

“They’re human beings just like all of us,” she said. “Some people treat homeless people like trash and it’s really, really sad. I always tell people that if you ever see a homeless person, at the very least, smile at them and acknowledge them.”

Lisa is afraid of heights, but the thought of rappelling down a 14-story building still will not deter her from helping people who are living on the streets. 

“They live in fear every single day,” she said. “I am happy to set aside my own fear to help them.”  

All proceeds from Down for the Challenge fund Salvation Army housing and homeless-prevention programs in the Twin Cities. The Salvation Army shelters more than 500 people every night at our six emergency shelters in Minnesota. During the past year, The Salvation Army and our partners have dispersed nearly $4 million worth of financial support for rent assistance and other homelessness-prevention services. 

Are you Down for the Challenge? Be among hundreds of people to rappel down a 14-story building at Mall of America on Saturday, Sept. 18, with chances to win awesome prizes. All proceeds fund local Salvation Army housing and homelessness-prevention programs. Learn more or register at

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