Aid, with strings
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on August 27, 2014 1:46 PM
Jimmie Ford, one of four teachers of the Salvation Army's new life skills classes, discusses motivation as it relates to getting and keeping one's life on track. Classes like this one are now required for anyone who receives assistance from the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army of Wayne County is not just handing out fish anymore.
Learning how to fish is part of the assistance -- and the requirements -- too.
Capt. Kenny Igleheart said the organization is still helping families and individuals with food, rent, medicine, utilities and clothing.
But now, if a recipient receives aid from the charity, he or she is required to attend a life skills class before being eligible to receive assistance again.
Hands Up life skills classes began in January. Recipients are required to take at least one of four classes, Igleheart said.
"Our goal is to give clients who come to the Salvation Army for assistance the tools or resources so maybe they won't have to need our assistance in the future," he said.
Igleheart said the Salvation Army has researched what skills would best help their clients.
"We've seen some things that the majority of our clients have needed. So we began offering the classes," he said.
And the rules are ironclad, too, as some people have already discovered. If you don't take the class, you cannot apply for assistance -- except in the case of a true unforeseen circumstance.
"If they have a documented emergency where their car broke down and they spent all their money, their house burned down or another emergency in the household, we will help them even if they haven't come to a class," Igleheart said. "But they can't come to us anymore just because they're eligible for help."
Igleheart said some of the Salvation Army's clients are not happy that they now have to attend a class, while others get excited about it.
"When they are here at the class, they say they get something from it," he said. "Then the Salvation Army gave them more than just food or clothing. It gave them something they can take back to their house and apply to their lives. It may not be tomorrow that their problems are solved, but they begin looking forward to how they can do that."
There are four classes: motivation, nutrition, money management and job training.
Jimmie Ford teaches the motivation class, telling participants that to change, they need to choose to think positive, seek out positive friendships, take care of the basics of water, exercise and sufficient rest, do more for others and ask God to guide their plan. He tells them that to glide with the eagles, they need to stop hanging out with turkeys.
Ashton Cooper with the Wayne County Health Department gives the nutrition class explaining how to stretch a dollar further and showing examples of a portion size.
During money management, Tom Bonthuis with United Way's Bank on Wayne program talks about budgets and how to manage money.
Francine Smith with Rebuilding Broken Places gives the class on job readiness.
One of the four classes is held each month, on a rotating basis. When the four classes end, they start all over again.
Igleheart said not only do the classes give clients the resources they need to help better their lives, but they also give the Salvation Army the opportunity to tell them what else the organization does. It does more than just help with physical needs; it helps with spiritual needs, too.
Igleheart said the Salvation Army saw about 1,300 households last year, so it should average about 100 households at each class.
But each class has had only about five participants, except this month's class, which had 21 attend.
One of those was 59-year-old Deena Stutts, a widow with several children and grandchildren, who survives on disability. She's also struggling with several illnesses, and her house also burned down three years ago.
This was her first class, the one on motivation.
"It's fantastic because anything you can do to improve your situation is a wonderful idea," she said. "When I got here today, I really didn't know what to expect, but I was thrilled with the class. It was truly a blessing for me for (Ford) to get up there and say to be the best we can be."
It was also Michelle Jimenez's first class. The 38-year-old is a single mother trying to raise her son on disability.
"The class will definitely help me," she said. "I want to go to the money management class because I'm really bad with budgets. But this was a good class for everybody."
The classes are free, and the Salvation Army has opened them up to anyone in the community, not just those who get help from the organization.
"You've got to put forth an effort to help yourself," said Capt. Julie Igleheart of the Salvation Army. "And it's got to be inside you. Nobody else can do it for you."