In 2005, a failed marriage and a move to a new community left Petlyn Small with three young children and a truckload of challenges. Her life of simplicity and joy had become one of pain and heartache.
Mother, father, friend, teacher, cook, housekeeper, provider—the list goes on. “Being a parent is hard at the best of times,” says Petlyn. “Being a single parent in a new environment without transportation, parental relief and community connections is harder.” Going through separation and divorce was tough. Petlyn faced many life changes and decisions. She struggled financially and emotionally. While she took concrete steps to improve her situation, obstacles consistently set her back.
Before long, what little savings she had were gone. Distraught, and unable to put sufficient food on the table, Petlyn turned to The Salvation Army for help. “It was about survival,” says Petlyn.
“At the Army I was treated with dignity and wasn’t frowned upon,” she continues. “What began as emergency food assistance turned to toys at Christmas, warm clothes for the winter and a friendship that has, like glue, held my broken spirit together.”
Poverty and lack of opportunities to thrive plagued Petlyn for years. While she still has her fair share of problems, she copes because “the Army relieves my stress.” She has learned to beat the negative situations by staying positive and trusting in God, has acquired confidence and is finally optimistic about her future.
In 2012 Petlyn, now an interior design professional, will focus on building a small business. She knows what it’s like to live on a limited budget and plans to use her newly acquired skills to help others reuse and reinvent old pieces that will allow them to live in style without getting into debt. “I want to be innovative and give back to people challenged by the burden of poverty, hunger, and living in isolation in substandard housing situations.”
While Petlyn’s life experiences at times have been crippling, she is grateful for lessons learned. And what particularly stands out? The Salvation Army’s positive message that tomorrow can be different.