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Salvation Army tries new program

FAIRMONT — Motivation, encouragement and, most importantly, practical support create the foundation pieces for Pathway of Hope, a pilot program offered at the Fairmont Salvation Army.

“It’s not about financial assistance. It’s about changing the way people look at their situations and finding a path to success,” said Krystal Stover, case manager for the Fairmont Salvation Army.

Pathway of Hope provides one-on-one support at weekly sessions during the yearlong program. Because of the individualization of the program, space is limited. For more information, call Stover at (507) 238-9797 to set up an appointment.

“I will talk to clients and find out what it is in their life that is an obstacle, why they aren’t succeeding, and we try to eliminate that problem,” Stover said.

“Some people may lack self confidence. They’ve never had a lot of people telling them they can do something so they don’t believe they can. It may be job related. Maybe they’re struggling to make ends meet. It could be a lack of education they need to get that higher paying job.”

Whatever the reason, the program will provide the tools to set goals and achieve those goals through encouragement, resources and support the clients may lack in their everyday lives.

There are no income restrictions to become involved in the program. The only requirement is that the client have a child under the age of 18 in the household.

“It’s a full family piece, not just one person in the household,” Stover said. “We want the children to see how setting goals and working toward those goals can actually create change. They see that this is how you succeed. You set a goal and take small steps toward that goal.”

Stover will offer more than platitudes. She will draw on her own personal experience to show how setting goals and working to achieve those aims can be life changing.

When she was 17, Stover dropped out of high school to get married and follow her husband when he enlisted in the military after 9/11. After the marriage ended, she found herself with limited job skills and limited job opportunities.

“I was a high school drop out. I was working in fast food. It didn’t pay a lot, and the hours weren’t very good,” she said.

When her son enrolled in Head Start, Stover met Jody Johnson with Minnesota Valley Action Council.

“She asked me why I was low income, what was happening in my household that I couldn’t make ends meet,” Stover said.

She told Johnson about dropping out of school and her limited job opportunities.

“She asked me if I had thought about going back to school. I told her yes, but I didn’t know how to go about getting enrolled again. I mean, how do you do all of that?” Stover said. “She gave me the resources, phone numbers to call, people to contact, to start the adult education program so I could take my GED and move on.”

After Stover earned her GED, Johnson continued to provide support and encouragement through resources such as college grants. Stover utilized those resources to earn an associate’s degree in human services and case management through Iowa Lakes Community College.

“Change is not easy,” Stover said. “When you try to change something in your life, you usually take two steps forward and one step back, but that’s how success happens.

“Success doesn’t just fall in your lap. Everything doesn’t just line up. You can work very hard, but things still don’t always work out. You have to take steps to better your situation every day, every week, every month. You have to set those goals and work toward them.”

One of Stover’s favorite sayings in the Salvation Army office is, “Not everybody starts at the same starting line.”

“I don’t think the general population really realizes that,” she said. “When you come from a stable home with a healthy support system and people give you encouragement, you don’t realize other people may not have that in their lives. They may not have those words of encouragement to help them move forward. They may not have the tools or the resources or the know how to complete those goals because it’s never been taught to them.

“That’s not for lack of trying on their part. It’s just that they started off at a different starting line so now they have to play catch up.”

Stover can foresee a positive impact in the community through Pathway to Hope.

“I wanted to do a program to spur change in the community that will be more than just handing out an emergency food box,” she said. “I really want to change our clients’ lives. I want them to experience a lasting change for the better.”

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