A Blessing Brings A Mother To Her Knees

Des-Cloquet-A-562x374The following was originally posted on The Salvation Army Northern Division’s blog.

I collapsed. All my kids were asking, ‘Mom, are you OK?’ I said, ‘My goodness, am I ever!’ For the first time, I felt like we were going to be OK.

On a kitchen floor, on her knees, surrounded by her kids, a mother finds hope. It was a life-changing moment that happened when a Salvation Army supporter partnered with us to change a neighbor’s life.

It all started last month, when an anonymous woman walked into The Salvation Army of Cloquet, Minn., with a substantial amount of money to donate. She wouldn’t say how much. All she would say is that she’d give every penny if The Salvation Army could prove how much good the money would accomplish.

“She wanted to see the money in action,” said Jackie Meyer, social services caseworker at the Cloquet Salvation Army. “I told her I had the perfect program.”

That program is Pathway of Hope, a new Salvation Army initiative that provides long-term, one-on-one support for struggling families that want to start thriving. Each family meets with a Salvation Army social worker once a week to formulate a game plan, set goals and track their progress.

Des-Cloquet-B-200x300Through Pathway of Hope, Meyer regularly meets with a 33-year-old woman named Desiree VanderPoel (pictured with her family above, and at right with Meyer). They connected after VanderPoel’s life fell apart due to unexpected financial issues.

“Desiree was in a really dark place, wondering how she’d feed her four kids and keep a roof over their heads,” Meyer said.

Today VanderPoel is almost whole again, thanks to Pathway of Hope and an astounding gift from a complete stranger who trusted The Salvation Army to turn her donations into real change for a family in crisis.

Dark days

VanderPoel came to The Salvation Army last fall. Six months earlier, her ex-husband unexpectedly quit paying child support. Without that money, she couldn’t make ends meet through her full-time job as a medical secretary.

“All of a sudden I had $1,700 coming in, but $1,900 going out,” she said. “I had to start robbing Peter to pay Paul. You can only do that for so long before it catches up with you.”

And catch up it did. Every month she got further and further behind on paying her mortgage, car payment and utility bills. Eventually her car was repossessed.

She reached out to service agencies for assistance, but few would help her because her income was too high.

“Some people said I’d be better off quitting my job,” VanderPoel said. “I was disgusted that people would suggest I quit my job to live off welfare. I got so depressed, with no idea what I was going to do or how I would protect my children.”

New path

In September, VanderPoel stopped by the Cloquet Salvation Army to receive free backpacks and school supplies for her children. That’s when she met Meyer.

“I was also able to give Desiree food and clothing,” said Meyer, adding that The Salvation Army serves according to need, not income.

Des-Cloquet-C-200x300After learning more about VanderPoel’s situation, Meyer told her about Pathway of Hope. Although the program couldn’t magically wipe away VanderPoel’s financial woes, it would at least provide emotional support at a time she so desperately needed it. Not only that, she’d have Meyer in her corner as an advocate.

VanderPoel (pictured in a budgeting class) joined Pathway of Hope and set one simple goal: make ends meet. Meyer has been with her every step of the way, offering guidance and being her biggest cheerleader.

“They should make a statue of Jackie somewhere,” VanderPoel said. “You couldn’t ask for a better role model. She’s taught me how to look at all the good things I have. I can call her anytime and she makes time for me. If she doesn’t have an answer, she will the next time we meet.

“She’s my angel.”

Little did VanderPoel know, another angel was about to enter her life. 

Unexpected blessing


Remember the anonymous woman? In addition to wanting proof that her donation would make an impact, she wanted it to benefit one deserving person.

Meyer couldn’t help but tell the woman about VanderPoel. At that point, VanderPoel’s stove and oven didn’t work, and she was more than a month behind on paying her mortgage and most of her other bills. She was in the fight of her life, yet maintained a positive attitude, thanks to the support she received through Pathway of Hope.

Several days later, an appliance crew arrived at VanderPoel’s doorstep with a brand-new range and refrigerator (pictured). Inside the fridge was a Christmas card containing cashier’s checks made out to her utility and mortgage companies, plus a $500 gift card to L & M Supply.

“I collapsed,” VanderPoel said. “I was on the floor bawling my eyes out. All my kids were asking, ‘Mom, are you OK?’ I said, ‘My goodness, am I ever!’ For the first time I felt like we were going to be OK, that we would make it through this. All of my prayers were answered in one night.”

Not only did the anonymous woman give about $5,000 worth of gifts, she got all the proof she needed about the impact of her donation.

Read VanderPoel’s thank you letter here.

About Pathway of Hope

Pathway of Hope is a national initiative that is steadily being implemented at Salvation Army locations across the country. There are currently five Pathway of Hope programs in place in Minnesota, with two more coming in North Dakota.

Meyer works with three families through Pathway of Hope, including VanderPoel. The other two are single mothers.

“We meet every week and do things like create budgets, make doctor appointments, set goals – all kinds of things,” Meyer said. “More often than not I’m a sounding board for them to rant, rave, yell or cry – sometimes they just need to get it all out in front of somebody who cares about them.”

Meyer plans to support each family for about a year. It’s an experience she’s looking forward to.

“These ladies enrich my life so much and are such a blessing,” she said. “All three are wonderful moms who make sure their kids’ needs and well-being come first. I am proud to walk with them on this journey.”

You can be a blessing to a family in need by getting involved with The Salvation Army. We have operation centers and service extension units in every county of Minnesota and North Dakota. To find your nearest location, type in your ZIP code at the top of this page.

Read original post here.

14 Comments on “A Blessing Brings A Mother To Her Knees

  1. I nice. To. Help. A. Person. With. Alot. Kids. And working. Att. The. Same. Time. And. Make. Food. Them. And. Shelter. For. Them. Self. And. For. A. Good. Cause. For. Other. Ineed

  2. I want to thank you for the special and humanitarian services you have been rendering. I am from Nigeria. There is so much poverty in Nigeria, with no hope for the Nigerian Child. How do you come in to help us. I am 37years and still remained unmarried. It is not my wish to remain single, but because of the hard economy. Infact, I and my fiancee are just hoping on God to help with our marriage arrangement. Please help us. Thanks. My mobile contact is +2348024700571

  3. Touching and motivating story. Is anything like this currently available on the East Coast?

  4. I am trying to find my daughter a place to stay for a couple days. I live in urbana,ohio and she is in Washington court house ohio. she is working at taco bell there and had a motel room but funds run out and she will be sleeping in her car.it is not safe for her and I am worried. our house burnt down and my dad has helped her pay for motel room but we are limited too.we can help her but not till sunday and she has to work tomorrow.we have made several trips there to bring her food,i am asking for some help for her. please.

  5. Hello,
    I’m a single mother with 2 children. I have a part time job which can only cover my bills, I’m also behind my morage payment.
    My 2 kids are growing so fast and ware cloths up to their ankles. With no child support, I can’t afford to buy them more cloth . My bills are piled up. If any one can help me with the cloth you don’t use, I’ll be proudly to reuse your cloths. My kids are 8 and 15 yrs.

    Thank you looking forward for your help

  6. This powerful story of a mother who received a blessing from a woman who felt the need to extend herself brought me to tears. I would like to encourage those who give both their time and talents to those in need. Your selfless contributions that you give to humanity will be magnified in the universe.
    As you pay it forward, blessings and goodness will follow you. It is heartwarming to know that good hearts are connecting with broken hearts. I hope that you continue a work well-done and so immensely needed.
    The reality is, there are ordinary people making extraordinary differences in the lives of people.
    May God continue to bless your work………….

  7. We run an organization in Sparta, Wisconsin called “A Helping Hand”. We can help you with clothing, bedding, furniture, seasonal/holidays, appliances, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, dishes, etc

    We do our best to fulfill the requests we receive. However if we do not have a particular items, we do our best to find it!

    ** PLEASE NOTE**
    Sorry but we do NOT provide any financial help.

    Check out our facebook page for more information!

    Thank you!

  8. I’m sure so many people have been help, it’s so hard to get in touch with salvation army for help I have been trying to call for 3weeks I never can get through its always busy or when you call a few minutes before 1:30 it tell you call at 1:30 so I call at that time it’s busy I need help I’m so frustrated when you need help the system does not work for people that really need help I don’t know any other way to get a hold of salvation army other than calling what to do?????

  9. i need help im homeless and in need of assistance. i live in my car work only part time and cant afford rent electric. iwas evicted and am lost. im in my car in northampton pa. and im cold tired hungry. welfare turned me down the church has no aid. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE HEAR AND HELP ME> thank you tom

  10. Need help homeless lost everything went thru horrible divorce I’m anerexic weigh 90 lbs and I’m 46 please help!

  11. woww as a salvation army employee i am astounded to learn that this “cristian” organization has helped an individual in need seeing that i myself am a single parent who recently left my spouse to persue a better life only to have gained what i thought to be a great job opportunity just to find my hours being cut down to 24 hours which has also left me greatly behind in bills not to mention the less then value our employers have gave to us employees.. however i am pleased to know they are “doing the most good” to others in the community

  12. Need help with rent trying to go to school lost a big portion fo my income when my childs dad stop paying child support what org in anderson sc that can help me keep a roof on my four kids heads please I desperately asking anyone got a eviction notice I have ten days to come up with 320and my ten days are up next thrusday may 8 please. Domeone help us

  13. Hello.
    Of course this story had me in tears. I could benefit from a program like this. I live in Muncie, Indiana and have already contacted our salvation army here but they said their funds were already gone for this winter. My 14 year old daughter and I have lived in a barely livable mobile home since August 2013. We made it through the winter without a furnace. We’ve also not had a stove the whole time that we’ve been here. I have a microwave, crock pot, hot plate, and a small toaster oven that I use for cooking. We haven’t had electricity in four nights now. The electric bill got so outrageous because I was using electric heaters that I purchased from a pawn shop. I also could never run more than three electric heaters on low at the same time. They would repeatedly trip the fuse box.The electric heaters are what made the electric bill skyrocket to over $900. I also am supposed to sleep with a CPAP machine every night but the electricity was disconnected anyhow. I have already contacted every resource here possible. I called 211 and when I told the representative of all of the agencies I had already contacted she informed me that she didn’t have any other resources in the database. Please email me, if anyone reading this knows of any possible help out there for me and my daughter. My daughter is very good girl and truly deserves a better life than this. When she graduated 5th grade she received the presidential academic achievement award signed by the President of the United States. I had never even heard of that award. She has always been an A-B honor roll student and most recently received an invitation letter to the National Honor Society induction ceremony.
    Thanks so much
    Tiffini Michelle

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