Each year, we provide over 20,000 nights of emergency shelter.
Last year, we serviced nearly 900 families with children under 18 years old.
In the Bentonville school district alone, there were 398 children considered homeless in 2015. This makes Bentonville home to the highest population of homeless children in NW Arkansas.+
There is a great need to care for the individuals and families in our community who need shelter. At The Salvation Army, we want for the abandoned, lost, hurt, and broken to find shelter in our doors.
We pray that we are a refuge for the many families we serve.
Families like Michelle’s.
How did you find The Salvation Army?
At the time, I had just moved here to Fayetteville from New Orleans. When we got here, we had nowhere to go. My daughter was involved in a horrible situation in New Orleans. We went into police protection and had to leave New Orleans immediately. All we had with us was three changes of clothing and our medications.
We hooked up with Peace at Home at first, and they referred us to The Salvation Army. Normally, it’s only a 10 day stay [at the shelter]. We applied for more permanent housing at Seven Hills, but there was a waiting list.
So the Majors talked about our situation with the school social workers, and they extended our stay over the allotted amount of time. We got to stay for a month and two weeks until we got accepted at Seven Hills. We moved straight from the shelter into this town-home.
What did the shelter mean to your family?
It was amazing. We were able to have food, a roof over our heads, and a church. It meant we were secure. We had a safety net during a real hard time. And without The Salvation Army, I don’t know what would have happened to us. We had nowhere else to go.
We were able to get food, clothing, have somewhere to sleep, and shower.
It was a wonderful place for us.
And even though we have a home now, being [at the shelter] is what I am the most grateful for. Someone opened the door to us. If The Salvation Army had have closed their doors on us, I don’t know what would have happened. With all this cold that just came through, we might have frozen to death. We would have lived in a tent, I don’t know.
So I am just gonna say that I’m grateful, because we had people willing to take us in. The Majors came in and opened up their hearts. Being genuinely welcomed, that’s what I am grateful for.
How does your life look different because of the shelter?
Things were difficult in New Orleans. I was very stressed out and worried about my missing child. Nothing was working out, and my life felt like it was falling apart, slipping through my fingers.
We’ve been at peace since being here, and the Salvation Army is really the major part of that, because it started there. That was our starting point.
It is still overwhelming some days, but at the same time, it takes time. As time passes on, everything heals itself. You don’t forget, but you let it go. We had to leave everything, but we were blessed to get everything back. Not exactly the same things, but we got everything back.
This place feels better than home.
What would you say to other people, especially moms, going through a tough time?
- It is rough, but don’t give up.
Don’t ever give up. If you give up, you are letting the situation control your life. I cried and cried and prayed and cried, but I didn’t give up. You have to keep going, especially for the kids.
- Tell someone about your problem, and ask for help.
It is OK to ask for help. My momma always used to say, “closed mouths don’t get fed”. Everyone needs someone to talk to, and you never know what will happen.
- Go to The Salvation Army.
You never know who can help you. And if you don’t know, ask. Your life can take a drastic change. You may be on the streets now, but things can change.
Is there anything about The Salvation Army you would want to share with our commnuity?
The Salvation Army changed and helped me and my family when we had nowhere to go. They were right there, never giving up on us. They even gave us extra allotted time that we weren’t supposed to have, just to make sure that me and my kids had a roof over our heads.
And your donations help tremendously. My kids were given so many things. Their Christmas was wonderful- they got to do Angel Tree. They got Christmas presents out the woodworks!! The kids got so much that they were able to share what they got with other kids in the neighborhood.
We got a lot through The Salvation Army. And when I get more money, that’s what we are gonna do [give back to The Salvation Army]. We want to be able to help another family.
+2015 Community and Family Homeless Report, Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick PH.D., Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice