The Salvation Army New Kensington Supports Local Neighbors in Time of Need

Feb 11, 2021 | by Stephanie Rex

At least twice a month, Mary receives a welcomed knock at her door.

“Mom, Major Flanders just dropped off boxes of food for us!” one of her children exclaims.

Her family doesn’t know many people in New Kensington. But she does know that someone is looking out for them just down the street at The Salvation Army New Kensington Worship and Service Center.

“To have Major Scott Flanders coming over and knocking on my door - not just calling my phone - to check on us, to tell us he is praying for us, it’s nice,” Mary said. “To have that security to know someone is looking out for us and thinking of us this close by...”

Mary and her family always took pride in their ability to take care of each other. With six children ranging from 16 years old to 3 months old, she and her husband maintained a daily schedule that helped everyone thrive. But when COVID hit, the routines fell away as daily life became disrupted.

“In July, things started to get really bad. We didn’t have any income, bills were adding up, and I had some family members who helped as much as they could - but they were affected as well,” Mary said.

A registered nurse – and pregnant at the beginning of the pandemic – she was considered high risk and ordered to stay home by her doctor, leaving her without work. Her husband, a Port Authority driver, had his hours cut as bus schedules were canceled due to a lack of riders and increased need for safety precautions.

By October, their savings account had been emptied and they knew they needed help. In addition to the stress of financial hardship, their newborn son faced a life-threatening heart defect, recently undergoing open heart surgery.

Mary decided to reach out to The Salvation Army New Kensington Worship and Service Center, where her children had started to attend Sunday school and worship services.

“Once I got over the reality of needing help – because I never needed help before – it felt good. My ego was hurt because we had always been able to take care of our family. To know that we needed help, at first, I panicked. After I spoke to Miss Donna, the caseworker, they let us know everything we needed to do and it was a weight lifted off knowing there is someone out there willing to help,” Mary said.

Mary’s family was able to receive much-needed support with utility assistance and Christmas assistance. The Salvation Army also was able to provide the kids with a second laptop computer so they had sufficient resources for online schooling at home.

“The support helped lift our family’s spirits because I wasn’t as stressed, my husband wasn’t as stressed, so that didn’t spill off onto the kids. When we are stressed, the kids pick up on that. They were relieved as well,” Mary said. “With everything I have been through, just that extra weight being lifted and having that security there, I don’t feel that everything is falling apart and it’s just too much.”

Today, Mary is back to work part-time, and things are getting better. To The Salvation Army donors, she says, “Thank you.”

“We’ve donated in the past, but we have never seen the other side of it,” Mary said. “Now we know how it makes you feel, so we want to donate even more.”

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