The Salvation Army provides hope and a home for the homeless
By: Cindy Fuller
For some clients, the path out of homelessness can be challenging, with many ups and downs on the journey. In Ronda’s case, it was a long time coming.
Ronda lost her RV home in a storm and, for more than five years, she lived near creeks and in wooded areas between shelter stays. Over time, connections with her grandson and daughters were damaged, with her identification, medical history and material possessions lost due to theft and weather. Ronda also faced physical and emotional challenges, along with addiction-related issues.
Ronda met Dawn Rodriguez in January 2018 at The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Rodriguez was assigned as Ronda’s case manager, aiming to help Ronda secure permanent housing. Rodriguez is the administrative assistant and human resources manager for the Northwest Arkansas Area Command.
At the time, the shelter was changing from an emergency-based location to a housing-focused shelter. Under the leadership of Captain Joshua Robinett, area commander, the shelter’s overhaul was significant.
The new program utilizes consolidated, intense case management, coordinating with local nonprofits and churches in the community. Each client is monitored to assist in the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
Ronda secured housing, with rent based on her income. Genesis Church helped by providing household items, and Ronda decorated and furnished her new home with items from The Salvation Army’s Family Store.
“It took all of us working together to do this,” said Rodriguez. “We have been given the opportunity to go outside of the box and address each client on a case-by-case basis. This approach is resource intensive; it requires us to drive clients hours away to appointments or to wait with them at medical appointments because our clients have no one else to rely on for help.”
Ronda’s new apartment is in a safe, secure area with case management support and transportation available. Case managers follow up with clients at one-, three-, and six-month intervals to ensure they remain stable, with the Army pledging continued support.
Best of all is Ronda’s reunion with her family. She has been in contact with one of her daughters and was able to speak to her grandson, with the hope she will be able to see them soon.
Ronda still visits the shelter regularly, with the staff becoming her family. The Salvation Army not only invested the time but also provided ongoing emotional and spiritual support and basic necessities.
“Ronda, for me, has been a rewarding, yet complicated, challenge,” Rodriguez said. “She reminds me no matter where we are or where we were, anything can happen, and in a moment our entire lives can change. Through all our time working together over the years, she has been the one I wanted to see housed and even through changing job positions I knew I would continue working with Ronda until she was housed. There was no giving up.”
Rodriguez thanked the Northwest Arkansas community for past assistance and said the Army needs “the support of our community, our donors and the media to help those who need it most.”
The Salvation Army remains a safety net for Ronda, and her journey encompasses the organization’s mission to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
“I appreciate everything The Salvation Army has done for me,” Ronda said. “And I want to see others who are homeless housed as well.”