Former Shelter Resident turned Volunteer Extraordinaire, Emergency Shelter
For 26 years, Leslie Mathones passionately worked as a Labor and Delivery Licensed Practical Nurse in New York City. Helping shepherd new life into the world and ensuring the health and safety of expectant mothers was one of life’s greatest passions for Leslie.
After a rewarding and challenging career, Leslie retired her stethoscope as she and her family decided to forego the hustle and bustle of city life in exchange for a quieter, slower and easier life in the Poconos. Little did she know that just one year later, right around Thanksgiving no less, she and her kids would be homeless.
"I have never been in a position this vulnerable before," Leslie says. "We were being evicted from our home and had nowhere to go. Every agency in town turned me away. Except for The Salvation Army."
"Being homeless humbled me more than I ever thought possible," Leslie says choking up. "I was welcomed with big, warm, open arms and impressed with how knowledgeable staff is about available services in Monroe County. This is a very needed and useful program."
Now, you can find Leslie volunteering 5 days a week as an Administrative Assistant in our Shelter, doing whatever is needed, from answering phones and using her 26 years of Nursing experience to educate and empower our residents.
"First and foremost, I have to give back to show my appreciation to the Salvation Army," Leslie says smiling. "You all not only helped me get back on my feet, but treated me with dignity, respect and compassion. You are all very special. Just lovely."
She continued, "I also like to feel needed. It makes me feel good to help people. Plus," she continues with a wink. "It gives me something to do."
"I will always remember the day Ms. Leslie came through that front door," says Cymanda Robinson, Shelter Program Director. "I could tell she was tired, overwhelmed and just plain hopeless. I told her just to breathe."
Leslie entered our Shelter program just after Thanksgiving 2018 and was placed into permanent housing in March 2019.
"We helped give Leslie the guidance and made those connections for her," Cymanda continues beaming. "She did the rest. She just hit the ground running. Nothing was going to stop her."
"Everyone has a picture in their head of a homeless person," Leslie says. "We see the pictures and videos that the media shows of homeless. Everybody has a preconceived notion. But I want everyone to look at me. Do I look homeless? No. I am the face of homelessness. This is the face people need to see."
On a roll, Leslie continues passionately, "It's the same for mental illness. We see pictures of people's behavior, screaming, yelling, etc. Not everyone who struggles with mental illness displays those characteristics. Our society needs to stop putting people in a box. We are all in the same place, just one step away from homelessness. Everyone has their own story and most importantly, one should not be judged."