Home City Beat Breaking the Cycle: How John Changed His Life at The Salvation Army

Breaking the Cycle: How John Changed His Life at The Salvation Army

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 By Joanna Estrada, The Salvation Army

 

Homelessness and chronic homelessness are on the rise nationwide, including here in El Paso. The Salvation Army works all year round, offering shelter, food, and supportive services to provide hope and a way forward to those in need.

For John Erickson, the journey out of homelessness began when he sought help from The Salvation Army. Battling substance abuse and grappling with mental health challenges, he spent years going from one homeless shelter to another, often with temporary stays at rehabilitation facilities. This cycle of homelessness and despair lasted from Summer 2019 until Fall 2023 when John arrived at The Salvation Army homeless shelter.

During his stay, John found more than just a roof over his head; he discovered a supportive community that helped him rebuild his life. Engaging in activities like The Salvation Army’s Christmas program, where he worked as a seasonal driver, John gained not only employment but also a sense of purpose and belonging.

 

Following months of case management, John qualified for the Continuum of Care program which provides services to help individuals and families experiencing homelessness move into permanent housing with the goal of long-term stability.

 

Today, John lives in his own apartment where he enjoys cooking his own meals, particularly experimenting with new recipes. He is filled with optimism about the future. “The people at The Salvation Army have given me their best; I’ve got to do the same. I’m excited to finally realize my potential,” said John. He looks forward to furthering his education, new job prospects, and reconnecting with family.

 

Ongoing case management is an integral component of The Salvation Army’s work with families and individuals in need. Clients work one-on-one with case managers, often connecting with local community partners, to resolve complex issues and plan their way forward. “Our work goes beyond the moment of crisis,” said Major Floiran Estrada. “Yes, we’re there in the moment of greatest need, but we are committed to help our neighbors on the path to success and self-sufficiency.”

 

In 2023, The Salvation Army provided 24,386 nights of shelter, served 166,050 meals, assisted 129 households in attaining permanent housing, and helped 119 households retain their housing through homeless prevention initiatives. Visit salvationarmyelpaso.org or call 915-544-9811 to donate or volunteer.

 

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