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May27WedA Salvation Army program in British Columbia provides hope for the hopeless. May 27, 2020 by Linda Leigh
Tracy arrived in Vernon, B.C., overwhelmed by hopelessness. She couldn’t see past her pain and just wanted it to stop. In her mind, suicide seemed to be the only way out.
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- Faith & Friends
She needed people who cared about her. Little did she know that would be The Salvation Army.
Struggling to Survive
In 2015, Tracy left her marriage.
“Living in an unhealthy relationship was difficult and I wanted to find happiness again,” says Tracy.
She moved to Vernon, where family could support her while she sorted out her emotions. But after only three months, Tracy felt that living with family was causing too much stress and anxiety, so she removed herself from the situation. She didn’t know where she would go or what she would do, but she knew things had to change or suicide was inevitable.
Tracy had no choice but to sell everything she owned from her previous three-bedroom home. And when Tracy could no longer afford car payments or buy food, she sold her vehicle to help her survive.
For the next seven months, Tracy lived out of a suitcase and stayed with other family and friends— wherever she could land for a while.
“It was very depressing to not have a home or the support I so desperately needed,” says Tracy.
She then moved to Victoria for two years where she enrolled in self-help courses and received counselling. But the loneliness never went away. She moved back to Vernon to be with the grandchildren who’d always brightened her life.
One day, Tracy walked into The Salvation Army, depressed, anxious and suicidal, seeking help.
There, Tracy received counselling and was directed to housing-support services. Before long, she began to volunteer with the Army’s meal program and food bank. It was through volunteering that she learned of the Breakthrough program.
“Women who attend the program are dealing with feelings of isolation and lack of support,” says Jenn Thompson, program co-ordinator. “We provide a safe environment where participants build relationships, learn life skills and improve their self-esteem.”
Breakthrough sessions include forgiveness, healthy boundaries and relationships, self-esteem and conflict resolution. Participants engage in activities such as art days, cooking and movie days. The goal is that women find a place of belonging, friendship and support.
Today, Tracy is a cashier at a Salvation Army thrift store, helps with the organization of the store and interacts with clients. She has her own apartment and volunteers when she is able.
“When I came to The Salvation Army, I felt connected,” says Tracy. “The Salvation Army is the family I never had, the one I always wished for.”