The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia - Youth Services

A Young Family Finds Their Way to Independence

Imagine being 18, homeless, alone -- and pregnant. This was the very harsh reality for Domin'que after her mother forced her out of the house and her child's father's family wouldn't take her in.

Though Domin'que stayed wherever she could during her pregnancy, after her daughter, Safiyh, was born in 2010, she was determined to find a safe place for them to live. Fortunately, she was directed by the Office of Supportive Housing (OSH) to The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence in North Philadelphia, an emergency shelter for homeless families.

"I was really lucky to be sent to The Salvation Army," said Domin'que. "Everyone at Red Shield actually wants to get to know you and they do care. From the safety monitors to the cooks, everyone tries to help you the best way they can. It's like having a second family."

The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence provides approximately 250 families a year with a safe, stable environment and support including medical assistance, meals, shelter, drug and alcohol counseling, and employment skills that parents need to begin the journey to self-sufficiency, said Susan Brotherton, director of The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence. "We serve a lot of young mothers like Domin'que who are forced to leave their homes. I can't imagine where they would end up without The Salvation Army."

"Being at Red Shield was a really good experience," said Domin'que. "I joined the crocheting group and started to crochet again. I participated in groups where I could talk about my feelings with other residents. I realized that there were other people going through the same thing I was. It was a great support system."

Thanks to The Salvation Army’s social workers' assistance, Domin'que and Safiyh now are living in a transitional home, just months after first arriving at the shelter. "It feels good to be in my own home," said Domin'que, though she noted that both she and her daughter miss the Red Shield staff, and that Safiyh was "so excited" to see staff again during a recent visit.

Also, as a result of the Welfare to Work program she participated in while at The Salvation Army, Domin'que has secured a position at a day care center, which is ideal since she loves children and Safiyh can stay there as well. "It's great; I love working," said Domin'que.

Though Domin'que has to work hard to get by, she is independent and thriving. "The Salvation Army helped me so much," she said. "I was able to meet people who are still a great source to talk to. I'm not overwhelmed like I was before. Now, I have a little bit of everything off my shoulders."

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