For Leena, single parenting and poverty go hand in hand. “I’m struggling,” says the 38-year-old. “But without The Salvation Army I’d feel worse. Hope wouldn’t be there.”
In 2014, Leena’s husband of 16 years abruptly left the marriage. “I received a phone call at work to say my husband was home collecting his belongings and moving out. I was in complete shock,” says Leena. “He left me with the mortgage payment, bills―everything.”
Leena had to find resources as fast as she could. On a fixed income, it was all she could do to keep a roof over her head and that of her two young children. Her financial situation became grim, to the point of being unable to put food on the table or pay the heating bill. That’s when she reached out to the community for help.
“It was hard for me to walk through the door of The Salvation Army in Markham, Ont., and ask for help,” says Leena. “I’d always been self-sufficient. When I met the workers I couldn’t even make eye contact. I was that embarrassed. I was quickly made to feel at home and my visit gave me hope.”
Meanwhile, The Salvation Army has supported Leena in many ways that includes Christmas assistance, help with food and clothing, how to cook on a budget and support to help her meet goals she has set through its Pathway of Hope Program.
“Pathway of Hope is a program that we offer to clients who are at a place in their lives where they want to be unstuck,” says Julie Whalen, Community and Family Services worker. “We walk alongside them and provide support or referrals to help them achieve goals they set for themselves so they can move beyond the cloud of their circumstances.”
“Pathway of Hope has helped me find housing, provided practical support such as mattresses and connected me with resources to help with heating,” says Leena. “I still get anxious about making ends meet but The Salvation Army keeps me hopeful. Their support is helping me to get back on my feet. Something I thought would never happen.”