05 October 2017

TRAVERSE CITY MI, September 5, 2017: Life changed for stay at home mom Lauren H. when her 6 year marriage crumbled and she found herself a single mother of two small children. Over the next few years she was faced with the continuing struggle of caring for her children on her own, one with special needs, the need to find a steady job, transportation and housing.

Lauren found out about the Pathway of Hope (POH) program through the Youth Ministries Coordinator while her children were participating in The Salvation Army summer camp program. She shared that she decided to join the POH program in hopes that it could help her overcome the challenges she was facing. “I had so much coming at me that I could not pin point where to even start! I was overwhelmed, my confidence very low, I felt hopeless and very alone!”

For the past ten months, Lauren has been working with POH case manager Amy Peterson on her goals and dreams. Through tears, Lauren shared when asked what her dreams were, “It has been so long since someone asked me that! Being a single mom, there was not time to dream! Today my dream is for my kids to know that they are safe and loved and to live for a purpose…to impact even in the smallest of ways, one person each day.”

“My personal goals when I entered Pathway of Hope were to find a safe reliable vehicle, a steady job, a home, personal growth and regain my confidence. It has been amazing to have Amy come along side me, someone to breakdown and re-channel my focus and take one step at a time. Having someone to listen and really hear me and be a guide has been so important in my journey.”

Sharing significant changes since entering POH was difficult for Lauren, “There are too many. I can’t choose! When I entered the program I was very overwhelmed, struggled with self-esteem and control. Today, I am confident and I have hope that was missing before! I am not alone. I have a strong community that cares for me and my family!  

I now have a vehicle, am in safe transitional housing with the SingleMOMM program while I continue looking for permanent affordable housing, as well as a mentor and recently started a job doing something that I love – cooking! I am now the lead cook with The Salvation Army Community Meal program!

I love serving those with needs in the community. I utilized the same programs when I needed help. This opportunity goes beyond my prayers for a personally rewarding job. It is heartwarming to bring a person a meal. We smile and laugh. It has made a world of difference for me. This is more than a job… it is spiritually rewarding to me.

My experience with the Salvation Army programs has given me hope…the inspiration to go on every day. Life gives you obstacles. You learn to go through them – not over them. It is nice to have my case manager cheering you on.

This journey has not just been about me, but about my family. Having a special needs child presents many additional challenges that can be time and mentally exhausting. My son David and daughter Loralei are both involved with the Salvation Army youth programs. The programs are extremely important and impact them in big ways – they get structure, learn music, have the opportunity to learn and try new things, learn about acceptance and good choices. It is a safe, Christian based program. My children love God!”

One of my favorite sayings is noted to Albert Einstein - “Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.” I believe that we are each on our own path. There is no superior, we all have our own roles – we are all equal.
Lauren went on to share with families that are struggling. “If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start…registering for the Pathway of Hope is a perfect milestone. The program will help break down the steps to move forward. When you are living in survival mode it is really hard to pull yourself out!”
To POH supporters and partner, “You have helped a family that was really struggling to believe that there is hope that you can get through the toughest of times.”

“As, I come to my Pathway of Hope graduation - I know that it is not the end of something, just a new chapter. A chapter that I can begin with confidence and hope that was missing before.  

UPDATE: Lauren successfully graduated on September 19, 2017.

Click here to find out more about Pathway of Hope.