Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Are you surprised?

While it may not come as a surprise the number of people who are seeking emergency financial and food assistance, due to the unstable economy, who these people are will surprise some people.

“We are seeing traditional families, where dad has a full time job and mom stays at home with the three children, people who have never reached out for assistance before, now asking for help,” says Dr. David Woody, Program Services Director for The Salvation Army DFW Metroplex Command.

“Too often now there is an accumulation of events. Suddenly, dad faces a reduction of hours or a layoff. Then the mom struggles with the hard decision whether to not work, stay at home with the children, or find a job and send her children to daycare, which can be expensive.”

Many of the clients who are struggling for the first time find it difficult to ask for help – which oftentimes can make their situation even worse.

“Sometimes people are embarrassed and ashamed to ask for help,” Dr. Woody says. “There is a strong value that folks feel they should be able to take care of themselves, even if the circumstances are beyond their control.”

Because The Salvation Army noticed their client’s needs changing, the organization now offers services in financial counseling and money management courses.

Carolyn Key, Business Operations Administrator at The Salvation Army in Denton, says her center began to offer these new programs after seeing their clients’ needs change.

“Several of our clients had the same job for 20 years and were making a six-digit income and then were laid off,” Key says. “But they had no idea how to handle their money after being laid off, and now they’re broke.”

The Denton center’s services include individual counseling and classes on financial management, and the center has even partnered with Compass Bank in Denton to enroll their clients in a free checking and savings program called Second Chances.

One of Denton center’s clients who is benefiting from the program is Ken, a father of a 14-year-old, who was recently laid off because of the economy. Ken currently lives in the center’s Transitional Shelter Program and works closely with Key on learning how to budget and save for the future.

“Ken is getting to the point where he can care for his son, and save for their future,” Keys said. “Without our financial counseling services, he would have had very few places to turn to for help.”

For more information about The Salvation Army’s programs or to find a Salvation Army center, please visit us at

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