Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Pathway of Hope

Last year shortly before Thanksgiving, a Cleveland Walmart made a request of its own associates to donate food items so that their fellow co-workers could "enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner." What struck many people as ironic is the fact that if Walmart gave decent wages to its own employees, their employees could buy themselves a Thanksgiving dinner.

When it was investigated how much Walmart must raise its prices to ensure that at least their employees could earn $12 per hour, the answer was that each customer would only have to pay an additional $0.46 per trip. (1)

Most people were outraged that Walmart would even ask for such help, but it means more money for them if the U. S. government supplies Walmart's workers with food stamps to make up the difference.

The Pathway of Hope


These past 2 days I have been participating in a seminar to learn how to implement a new program/approach of The Salvation Army called the Pathway of Hope. This program is a new approach for us to do case management with a few families to help them get out of the cycle of dependence on agencies and see how we can best make them self-sufficient.

I love the concept. I embrace it wholeheartedly. I think it will be great for the people we serve. It will take time and effort, but in the end I believe it will change lives.

. . . but

I have a problem.

My own employees would benefit from the services of the Pathway of Hope. My corps in Ludington is not able to afford to pay them a livable wage. Our thrift store does not make enough money as it is to support the services we provide. There is no fat to cut off of our budget and I cannot pay them a good enough wage to make ends meet.

They deserve more! They deserve to be able to live off of the income they earn from serving in The Salvation Army.

Unfortunately, there is a conundrum. When people donate to The Salvation Army, they want to donate for direct services. Not too many people think of the overhead costs, including utilities, upkeep, and personnel. I once heard someone remark that our employees should realize that it is a ministry and that we are not in it for the money; however, when our employees have to resort to government aid to make ends meet, something is terribly wrong.

I don't have an answer. I only have questions. As I heard from one caseworker during our conference, "How can I teach someone to be self-sufficient when I can't be self-sufficient on my own?"

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