ROANOKE, Va. – A program at the Salvation Army works to help local families in need. It's called the Pathway of Hope and it helps families break the cycle of poverty.
The program is for people who are working but aren't making enough money to support themselves and their families. They must have at least one child and live in Roanoke City or Roanoke County.
Deborah Cobourn, the case manager for the program, says it started with a simple question - why did the Salvation Army keep seeing some of the same people coming in for help?
She says by offering a temporary fix over and over, the Salvation Army didn't feel like it was really addressing underlying problems. Pathway of Hope's goal is to address the issues and create targeted solutions. Those involved in the program are put on a path to self-sufficiency and stability.
Cobourn says by making these changes within the family, it's not just the parents who benefit but the children as well.
"We're trying to make generational changes here," Cobourn says. "It's the ripple effect, that what we do will echo into their lives and it is very powerful. They see everything their parents do and to see somebody come in and say, 'This can be different.' That is a huge inspiration to them. They're always going to carry that with them."
Pathway of Hope is able to team up with other community organizations to help find the best solution for each family's need and offer intense one-on-one case management for about 15 families at a time.
Once enrolled, one of the first steps for participants is to figure out the underlying cause of poverty for their situation. It may be situational, by death, divorce or desertion, or it may be intergenerational with the issue of poverty going back two generation or more.
After that, they set their specific goals, determining what it's going to take to get them from point A to point B.
Cheerilyn Chapman started the program last year and is currently taking part in a Jobs for Life course to help her find a full-time skilled working position. She says after some medical issues knocked her off the planned path, she's working to get things back on track for her seven kids.
"They're learning firsthand by seeing it," says Chapman. "It's really helpful for them to see me struggling, see me setting goals, see me doing this even at my ripe old age. They're seeing it can happen. It makes a difference."
She says one of her goals is to be able to give back and help other families who face similar struggles.
For more information on the Roanoke Salvation Army's Pathway of Hope program, click here.