PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — Major Anita Sells knows what it’s like to get a gift from the Salvation Army.
“I have been part of the Salvation Army since I was six years old,” she said. “My experience with the SA has always been a place of refuge. It’s been a haven for me to go to. It’s the place that I feel like I’m at home the most. That’s been the same since I was six years old all the way through 48.”
After growing up in poverty, she is now a Major for the Salvation Army, and said she can give back to the community.
“The thing that most excites me is being able to see the joy on a parent’s face or a child’s face when they’re able to receive something that they may not have had if it weren’t for the Salvation Army stepping in to fill the gap,” she said.
One such parent is Rachel Travis, who moved into the Rust Transitional Center at the Salvation Army in Pekin in March.
“So far, I’ve just been kind of gaining the tools that I need. When I get out of homelessness, then I will be more steady on my feet,” she said.
Travis said she is a single mom of three children, and gave birth while living at the center. The Salvation Army goes beyond physical and financial aid, giving her emotional and mental support as well.
“I have my case manager who I just go and vent to every single day almost,” Travis said.
She said she wants a more stable ground for herself and her kids.
“I’m going to school along with my two older kids, and we’re working,” she said. “We’re working on it really hard.”
The Social Ministries Manager, Brandy Wright, said the Rust Transitional Center is more than just a place to stay.
“We meet the client where they’re at, meet the resident where they’re at. Then we work towards having them become self-sufficient,” she said.
She said she wants to break the cycle of generational poverty, part of the Salvation Army’s “Pathway to Hope” initiative.
“We give them the tools- the parents the tools- to get themselves out of poverty so that they can use those tools to get their children out of poverty as well,” she said.
Wright said this year, there is an increase in a need for aid from the Salvation Army, particularly for renters since the eviction moratorium ended.
“We have a lot of individuals that have never been homeless before because of the moratorium being lifted,” she said. “So, we’re trying—we need more assistance with making sure they can stay in their home.”
Wright said if you are an individual that needs assistance, call (309) 346-3010.
Major Anita Sells announced the famous Salvation Army kettlebells will make their appearance this year on Nov. 12. She also said there is a need for paid and volunteer bell ringers, and if interested, you can sign up at registertoring.com.