Read a few of the stories below of the over 7,200 children, who have found safety and love, at The Salvation Army Children's Shelter. Names, pictures, and details changed to protect families.
From the moment she walked into The Salvation Army Children’s Shelter, 10-year-old Emily had a smile on her face because she knew she was entering a safe, loving environment.
Over time, she opened up about the horrible circumstances she endured before coming here. Locked in a closest over long periods of time, she never knew when her next meal would be. There were often strange men visiting her mother, who did “bad” things to Emily. She didn’t know why they did these things, but they caused her pain and made her very unhappy. So unhappy, she frequently wished she would die to escape the shame and guilt she was feeling. Guilt because she knew somehow all of this was her fault.
Over time, with the help of the dedicated staff at the Children’s Shelter Emily learned that she had done nothing to cause these things to happen to her. She eagerly looked forward to having three healthy meals to eat at reliably scheduled times every day. She learned that she loved to draw and paint and created beautiful murals that were hung up on the walls for everyone to admire. After being cared for at the shelter for five weeks, she was telling all who would listen, “This is the best thing that ever happened to me!”
At 10 months old, Alex came to The Salvation Army Children’s Shelter with developmental problems. Unlike most children at his age, he couldn’t walk, talk or recognize his name. He was very small and underweight for his age and had not yet acquired the teeth that should be coming in by now. He cried all the time. These problems were typical of severe abuse and neglect. Very little was known about what went on in his life before the shelter other than his parents had a methamphetamine lab in the house and both were addicted to a crystalline form of meth called “Ice.”
During placement at the shelter, Alex learned to stand by himself and walk. Within a few weeks he was blowing kisses to his caregivers as if to say, “I love you.” He soon stopped crying and brightened everyone’s lives with his big, glowing smile and bright eyes.
Sam first came into the care of the Salvation Army Children’s Shelter as a four month old pipsqueak following medical neglect by his teen parent. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and his Mom, who is developmentally delayed, had not followed up on Sam’s health issues.
With patience, persistence and unwavering love the Shelter team worked closely with Mom to increase her understanding and develop appropriate parenting and coping skills. They also modeled for her how to access services and how to advocate for her child.
Mom participated in treatment planning, accompanied the baby on medical appointments and began taking an active role in both treatment and daily interactions. She showed up consistently for visits and demonstrated tremendous concern.
Sam was successfully reunited with Mom and turned 3 this summer. Sam now attends specialized supportive preschool and Mom continues to be the primary caregiver and a strong advocate. Sam and his Mom frequently visit with Shelter staff to demonstrate developmental milestones and to share hugs.
Tanya and Trevan, ages 10 and 8, are as close as a brother and sister can be. Unlike most siblings, they rarely fight and stick close together. That’s because throughout their young lives, the two had to rely on each other. Their parents, drug addicts, were often absent and when they were home, they were usually stoned.
They were taken to the Salvation Army Children’s Shelter in the middle of the night after police raided their family home and discovered a large quantity of drugs. When Tanya and Trevan arrived, both were undernourished and suffered from significant developmental delays. After a month at the Children’s Shelter, they had gained weight and were within the normal range for their ages.
Both exhibited less fear and withdrawal and began showing improvement in their language, social and motor skills. After 90 days, they were placed together in a foster home where they are thriving. They attend school and continue to receive specialized treatment to help them reach their full potential.