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Pathway of Hope breaks the cycle of generational poverty with one key ingredient—hope

After leaving an abusive relationship, Ruth was a single mother of six, struggling to make ends meet. She found herself living in her car with her children. “I went into a state of despair.”

Pathway of Hope is an initiative that aims to help families break the cycle of crisis and vulnerability, to have an intergenerational impact. It meets immediate needs like housing and food instability but aims to have a lasting impact by addressing the root causes of poverty through personalized case management.

When Ruth and her family met The Salvation Army, everything changed. With the help and resources that Pathway of Hope offered, she was able to get into an apartment, find childcare, increase her income by finding a better job, and even build a community at her local Salvation Army church. Her children greatly benefited from a stable and healthy environment and are now thriving, with the oldest siblings now in higher education.

Watch this video to hear Ruth’s story and the impact The Salvation Army had on her family and their future through Pathway of Hope.

Below is a transcript of the video, edited for readability.

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Naomi: Growing up, I just remember, like, every now and then, my dad would come in, you know, drunk, angry. The cops would always be called because he was beating my mom. We’d moved from apartment to apartment. I just thought that’s how life was, you know?

Ruth: I asked him many times to stop drinking. And he would say, “I’m not going to stop drinking, not for you, not even for my children.” The abuse came, the blows came. And I held on for my children. I stayed for thirteen years. It took the worst thing to happen before I was able to react and get out of this abusive relationship. What really hurt me was that my children were scared, crying for their dad, because they saw him getting arrested.

Naomi: Life got harder after that. Now we didn’t have a dad, we saw my mom less, we would fight more as siblings, if we weren’t already poor, we were more poor now.

Ruth: The oldest went into depression. Several times he tried to take his own life. He spent a lot of time in psychiatric hospitals. Naomi also went into a state of depression but very different from Alexis. She started to want to command, to have this voice of control in the house because there was no order at home.

I went to my social worker because I went into a state of despair What am I going to do? No one is helping me. The little money I have is not enough. I have to find someone to take care of my children. She referred me to The Salvation Army.

Vanessa Ortega: Pathway of Hope is more intense case management, so it’s working with a family from six months to a year, being able to empower them, letting them know that there is hope, and that if they’re in crisis, there’s going to be someone who can walk with them.

Chris Doughty: And so Pathway of Hope is a way for us to deepen our impact and our relationship with the people who are already coming to us for help through all of our different program offerings, we think about assistances, like food or utility assistance or rent assistance. Those interactions are going to be very brief. There’s not much opportunity for us to go deeper and to really look at maybe what are the underlying issues and circumstances that lead them to keep coming back to our office.

Ruth: Upon meeting The Salvation Army my sorrows, my problems began diminishing.

Vanessa Ortega: Ms. Ruth came to my office seeking emergency help, so I was able to sit down with her, walk her through our services.

Ruth: We were living in the car for about two months and she helped me with the rent for where we were going to live, the first month’s rent. They started giving me gas card assistance, they gave me clothes, uniforms, food for the children, And I would burst into tears with her, I told her everything, and I came out of there relaxed, as if they took the load off of me. And that is how the kids began coming to church.

Lt. Melissa Jones: So I was told that we had a new family that wanted to come, but their mom was not able to bring them, so I would go pick them up for our weekday programs.

Ruth: Here, The Salvation Army gave them love and attention.

Lt. Melissa Jones: The whole Corps really rallied around the family, providing them love and care and guidance as they needed it.

Ruth: Then Alexis told me, “You know what?” he said, “with the simple act of breathing here, I feel at ease.” So he would come to church a lot. It was very very very healthy for him. God helped him a lot to overcome his depression. He is no longer the person he was before. Naomi, when she arrived here her emotional state began to change.

Naomi: I remember the last time I yelled at my little sister, I was like, “Wow, I can’t do this. I’m supposed to love my siblings.” Love your neighbor, like they say, even your enemies.

Lt. Melissa Jones: The older kids were impacted more by the trauma that they experienced. I tried to help as best as I could as their pastor, making sure that they were okay, just giving them that support that they needed.

Naomi: It all just kind of formed me into someone new, that I didn’t know I could be.

Danielle Handle: Hope is the confident expectation of a future outcome. And if someone doesn’t have something that they’re believing in right, to look forward to, they’re more likely to stay stuck in this pattern that isn’t moving them forward.

Chris Doughty: Spirituality and hope are deeply intertwined with seeing progress made towards, you know, more tangible and concrete goals. And so that church component and helping to provide and surround people with a faith community is actually very helpful and impactful.

Ruth: I asked God a lot, “Help me look for a better job so that I can spend more time with my children. And so it happened, God gave me the opportunity to find a better job. I started coming [to church] with them, they were happy.

Naomi: And I remember the excitement behind that, just having my mom bring us a church.

Ruth: I had an encounter with God here. Now we are not as troubled, we are not as worried. Why? Because we know that we have a powerful God. Now the first thing I say is, “God in you I find my hope.” In you I find my future. You hold my future.” And that is marvelous.

I met my husband at work. We fell in love and decided to initiate a relationship. I had never known love like that. He began to take an important role in my life, as a life partner and as a father to my children. And now he is part of our family.

Charlie: To me, like, they’re my kids. I will do the best I can to bring them up, according to God’s will.

Naomi: Growing up, I felt that responsibility of being there my mom and my brothers. When Charlie came, God told me, don’t worry about that anymore. You want to go to college, so I’m sending you to college.

Ruth: She has a full scholarship to UC Berkeley. She is working hard. Alexis is practicing culinary arts, and he says that I am his motivation to keep going. God placed [The Salvation Army] in my life so that we could be a more stable, more united, happier family. That’s what I hoped for, a beautiful family, a happy family.

Lt. Melissa Jones: Just to see the kids succeeding and doing better to see her doing better and in a healthy, stable relationship has been just super rewarding.

Naomi: The fact that I know that God’s with us. That’s why I can finally breathe and have peace. Because I know that regardless of what happens and the struggles that come, that it’ll be okay at the end of the day.

Ruth: Before I met The Salvation Army, my life was worry, problems, no progress. After I met The Salvation Army, my hope grew. And they helped me, first and foremost, to seek God’s love. All glory, honor and thanks be to God because, without him, we would not be the family we are.


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