Sheila and her daughter moved to Nashville from Atlanta and could never seem to get their feet under them. They lost their home and had to move a family emergency shelter. One week later, more devastating news…Sheila was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Her doctor told her that it would not be safe to remain at the emergency shelter while going through chemo and radiation – that’s where The Salvation Army Supportive Housing program stepped in. While in the program, Sheila was able to find a job that provided the flexibility she needed to have while going through surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments. She received support and resources from her case manager to ensure that she got the best care possible.
“When I came to The Salvation Army, I had no car, no job, and no clothes, with a teenage daughter,” Sheila added. “I knew God had me exactly where He needed me to be. I was going through something that could potentially take my life. But I had hope because of the people God brought into my life at The Salvation Army,” Sheila said.
Through it all, Sheila says “I had more hope than I had ever had before.” Through the program she learned life lessons like how to manage finances, save money and pay bills. And once she was ready, she and her daughter moved into their own home.
Five years later, Sheila is not only still surviving but thriving! Her cancer is still in remission, and she has been given the opportunity to become an advocate for those currently experiencing homelessness. First by serving on the Homeless Planning Council in Nashville and then on the Tennessee State Task Force addressing homelessness across the state. Through these avenues, she helps individuals and agencies better understand the needs of those looking to leave homelessness behind through her real-life experiences.
Due to her high-risk status, Sheila had to leave her job during the pandemic and once again returned to The Salvation Army. However, this time it was as a member of the staff. First, by offering financial planning classes online for clients in our community, and then by joining the ranks of our Compassion Brigade.
The Compassion Brigade is a team of remote workers that helped neighbors gain access to financial assistance for rent, utilities, and other needs to keep neighbors in their homes with the lights throughout 2020 and 2021. The team was able to do much of the work virtually through online scheduling systems, phone meetings, and e-signatures on documents thus reducing the risk to staff and clients from Covid-19. In all, the team provided $1.5 million in financial assistance in 2020 alone.
“I believe our city, Nashville, without The Salvation Army would be desperate, sad, and struggling” Shelia says. “The Salvation Army does not only do an amazing job on street outreach, but also the food pantry aspect, and financial assistance out to those who need it.”
If you would like to join The Salvation Army in their efforts and ensure Hope Marches On for our neighbors, visit SalvationArmyNashville.org to learn how you can give or volunteer your time!
Misty Ratcliff, Development & Communications Manager, The Salvation Army Nashville