DECATUR — The Noon Kiwanis Club generally focuses its charitable efforts on children's causes, but when they heard that The Salvation Army's Pathway of Hope program was in need of donations, they were more than willing to help.
“We're bringing good for people's homes who need to get a fresh start,” said member David Wagner, one of the members who brought items like small kitchen appliances, dishes, pots and pans, bath towels and bedding to the waiting Salvation Army truck before the club's noon meeting on Tuesday. “They just wanted items for the house: your basic needs, like toilet paper and things like that.”
Fellow member Janet Lyman said there are great needs in Decatur.
“Anything that we can do to help out is wonderful,” she said.
Andrea Lewin, who oversees Pathway of Hope as case manager and assistant director, said clients come to The Salvation Army with the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency. To reach that goal, they often need support in one or more of several areas: childcare, education, legal or health services, transportation, legal documents, job skills or spiritual guidance. And one often pressing need is a home of their own.
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Someone who hasn't had that before, or not for a long while, is going to need very basic supplies once they get into that housing, and that's where the Noon Kiwanis could help. Donors often give such items to The Salvation Army, but those donations might not include specific needs like eating utensils, for example. Lewin was keeping some of those items in her office but was running out of space.
“The Pathway of Hope program provides services to individuals with children under the age of 18 living in the home,” she said. “We set goals. We meet those goals one at a time. Once they have reached all their goals, we have a graduation (ceremony) twice a year, and then I keep up with them every three, six or nine months after they graduate to see how they're doing. The goal is to help them be self-sufficient, find them employment, whatever the goal may be.”
Working with other agencies in the community, The Salvation Army refers clients to those agencies when appropriate with the case manager helping the clients learn the skills and resources to handle future adversity themselves.
A federally-funded supportive housing grant helps pay expenses and the case manager has discretion to provide clients with financial assistance if the need will help them stay employed and in safe housing, such as bus tokens, help securing drug tests and outpatient treatment, securing ID, help escaping a domestic violence situation.
To contact Lewin for help, call (217) 429-8050, extension 113. In August, her office will move to the building next door to the main Salvation Army headquarters, and her extension will be 124.
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Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter