A Place to Belong | The Salvation Army

A Place to Belong

Sandra volunteers her time in her local centre to help those who may feel lost and directionless in their family unit, like she once did before walking into a Salvation Army foodbank. 

I’m married to Shane and the mother of six children. I had my first child at the age of 18, but it didn’t stop my lifestyle of drinking and partying. When my baby was six months old, my relationship with his father broke down and that’s when it hit me hard. I remember thinking ‘I’m a mum. I’ve got to really step up now because I could have lost my child.’ At the age of 20, that’s when I met Shane. I then had another three children which made us a very busy family of four.

I became pregnant with twins, and I thought, ‘how will we cope? How will we manage with another?’ It was a very traumatic time, and we weren’t even coping with the kids we had. We were faced with an army of mouths to feed which made things harder. Shane got laid off his job at that time too so that put the stress at pretty high levels and we were wondering where we could turn.

Adding to this stress, our new-born twins ended up in intensive care in hospital. It was then that we started to lose parental control over our older children. We weren’t coping, so how could they cope? We had no purpose in life. It was like we had drifted off track. We lost our rental home, and at one point we were even camping in my mother’s lounge, our family of six, marae style.

We ended up in emergency housing in Palmerston North. I felt like I was at my wit’s end; scared and alone. Desperate for some food relief, we went to The Salvation Army Centre in Palmerston North. We were greeted by a lovely couple of people down in the foodbank. They were such loving and caring people who touched our hearts and brought us to tears of gratitude. The support only grew from there, and as a rapid result of that first meeting in the foodbank we were given help with budgeting and counselling.

Little things in our life began to fall into place, and we saw changes in our kids and changes in me and my husband. Shane and I went on to become volunteers at the foodbank. The help we received gave us a new feeling of security. We felt loved and we felt the companionship of the wonderful people there that showed us love and care. It’s real love.

‘I felt the love for my family coming back. Shane and I were loving each other again and my kids started listening and I just felt it in them too, the love coming back.’ We just felt like we were getting our kids back together as a family and we were better equipped to be parents. If it wasn’t for walking in the door that day, we wouldn’t be a family today. It gave us a new direction in our lives, a new purpose. I still volunteer to this day at the centre, and I love it! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sandra’s family now feel they have been given a new direction in life after being helped by the Community Ministries teams they have encountered. This kind of transformation is empowered by the generosity of people like you.