New Salvation Army Programs Not For Everyone - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/27/04 - Tyler

New Salvation Army Programs Not For Everyone

If you are looking for a "free ride" at the Salvation Army these days, think again. The organization familiar to many during Thanksgiving, Christmas and times of disaster, is streamlining how they help those just looking for a handout.

"Never in a million years did I think it would happen to me," said Cynthia Savell, "but, it did."

Several months ago, Cynthia hit rock bottom. Her husband abandoned her and her two youngest daughters. She had no job, no car, and one daughter sick with a fever.  Then, the electricity was shut off, leaving them in the cold.

"And that was the turning point," said Savell.  "I got on my knees and I told God, what do I do? I just started crying. And that's when I called the Salvation Army."

And that's when she got hope, as in the Center of Hope at the Salvation Army in Tyler. No questions asked, they took her in, fed her, and took care of her girls. Then, the real help began. Cynthia was given a strict set of guidelines she would have to follow in order to remain a part of their program. Guidelines Major Richard Hathorn says represent the new direction of the Salvation Army.

"It's not a passive program," said Hathorn.  "It's something if they are going to be here for awhile, we just can't give them a vacation, so to speak, so that when 30 days is up, or 90 days is up, they walk back into the same situation they came from."

So Cynthia, like all the residents, was put through a three step process, which included chores, education, and most importantly, getting a job.

"They show you how to dress," said Savell.  "They show you how to go to a job interview. They give you resume's. They do everything they can to put you back in society where you can make it on your own, and some of them, they don't want that."

"Sometimes there are people who come to us with their agenda, and find out, that we have to change things around in order to help them," said Hathorn.  "They may not be willing to go down that path."

Cynthia is definitely one of the success stories. She now owns a car, and works at a restaurant in a local hotel, and hopes to eventually go back to her old job working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. And very soon, she'll have to leave the Center of Hope.

"I'm scared," said Savell.  "I have two little girls and it's scary out there, but, I know that I'll make it."

Major Hathorn says the program wouldn't be possible without extensive help from volunteers and different community organizations. He also said because of the Center of Hope and new programs, donations are needed more than ever.

Kevin Berns reporting

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