Hope Marches On: Man finds silver lining in being homeless
Hope Marches On is a story series featuring real-life examples of how your donations to The Salvation Army help local people and families overcome food insecurity, eviction, inflation, and other hardships caused by the pandemic.
Thanks to your donations, Hope Marches On for a man named Antonio.
Antonio unexpectedly became homeless in St. Cloud, Minn., in early 2021. With no place to go and almost no money, he was forced to sleep in his car in the middle of winter.
One night, Antonio stumbled upon the St. Cloud Salvation Army while he was looking for a cheap hotel. The facility includes 69 beds of emergency shelter and transitional housing where individuals, families and veterans can stay while they get their lives on track.
Antonio was thrilled to learn he could stay at the St. Cloud Salvation Army free of charge while receiving a warm bed, hot meals, and support from caseworkers. He lived there for two months and used the time to work on himself.
“Being homeless taught me to do things for myself that I never knew I could do,” said Antonio, who lives with a learning disability. “I learned that there’s only so much that people can do to help you, because you have to help yourself, too. Being homeless was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
A Salvation Army caseworker named Danna stood by Antonio’s side during his time at the shelter. She helped Antonio:
- Find an apartment. Antonio now has his own two-bedroom apartment that includes bunkbeds for his five kids, ages 5 to 15.
- Create a budget. Antonio has learned to set money aside for his bills. “Before, I never paid my bills – now I do,” said Antonio, who works at a local jail.
- Apply for funding to cover the cost of his housing deposit and an expensive device that helps him read text from any screen or printed surface.
Today, Antonio is doing great. Daily he finds new ways to be a better man and father, such as using flash cards to practice reading and writing, volunteering at the St. Cloud Salvation Army (pictured), and spending time with his kids at night.
“The old me would sit around and not do anything,” Antonio said. “Now I want to see how far I can go. I appreciate the help I got from The Salvation Army – they did their best to help me.”
Danna is proud of how far Antonio has come and she is excited to see what else he will accomplish.
“Antonio is always working toward new goals and is continually growing as a person,” Danna said. “He is a perfect example of the progress that can be made when someone is accepted and cared about.”
You can do something good this holiday season by donating to The Salvation Army, volunteering, or ringing bells at a Red Kettle. Your help will provide food, shelter and care for local families in need. Because of you, Hope Marches On.