Breaking Poverty and Violence: Colleen’s Path to Better Days

Apr 21, 2021

The culture of poverty forces its victims to live from one crisis to the next. More often than not, this panic-mode mindset is hard to escape. Colleen knows that feeling all too well.

Colleen and her son have been fighting to get through each day for many years. The father of her son was toxic and abusive so Colleen escaped to her family. She lived with them for a short time but it was not a cohesive environment. Colleen was able to temporarily move in with a friend but her friend had a very small apartment and it was in a dangerous neighborhood. But Colleen had no choice. To her, this was a win because she needed a roof over her head.

Unfortunately, the situation with her friend became volatile. The apartment was extremely small and her friend was not able to have Colleen and her son move in permanently. On top of that, the apartment above theirs was ridden with drugs and gang violence.

Neal spent every conversation with Colleen trying to convince her to use assistance from the Department of Social Services (DSS), but Colleen wanted to do it on her own. Colleen’s friend had verbally kicked her and her son out but Colleen had nowhere to go so she continued to live, unwelcomed, in the apartment.

One day, Colleen mentioned to Neal that the apartment above her friend’s was vacant and she was thinking of moving in but did not know how to afford it. Neal felt moving in above her estranged friend might add fuel to the fire and tried to convince Colleen again to use DSS to find her own place. On top of this, Colleen told Neal the apartment was vacant because the person was shot and killed from gang violence.

After this discovery, Neal told Colleen “we have to do better.” Colleen was in such a pattern of panic and surviving one day to the next that a murder above where she rests her head did not phase her. Neal emphasized the risk this living situation put Colleen’s son in and encouraged her to take a second look. He explained the only way to break the cycle of poverty for her son was to put him in a better situation.

Neal’s persistence and his solutions resonated with Colleen and she agreed to utilize DSS, temporarily.

“I have been praying so hard, I feel like it is all I do,” Colleen said to Neal. DSS helped Colleen to get out of that mode of panic. She no longer had to only think for the moment because she had safe housing and food on the table. DSS helped Colleen to set a foundation and think clearly. She has opened her own hair business and is making her own money, providing for her family in a safe environment. Getting off DSS and being self sufficient is a goal Colleen will achieve but most importantly, she has put her son on the path for a successful future.

Pathway of Hope is offered through The Salvation Army and is for people who have hope of better days. No matter how bleak the situation is, our case managers are there to help you hold on to hope and celebrate all the victories. They also have access to ways to help you make progress. If you or someone you know is in a similar situation, have them reach out to their local Salvation Army Community Center.


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