WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – For mother Chaskya Gosa, last year was a challenge.
“I ended up going to the women's shelter last year in December right before Christmas,” said Gosa.
Gosa, a 25 year-old mother of 2, Madison and Braxton, reached out the Salvation Army's women's shelter in Waterloo after her housing situation ended.
“I look at my kids and I'm like I'm doing it for them. They are my motivation,” said Gosa, recounting her time in the shelter. She says she felt both confident and bad about her situation.
Gosa signed up for “Pathway of Hope,” a Salvation Army program designed to assist families by setting goals and holding them accountable.
“You qualify for the program by families that really want to have that drive to work and to do something and have change in their life,” said Cedar Valley Pathway of Hope Coordinator Regina Lambrecht.
A brochure for the program reads, "If families are not demonstrating progress toward their goals and self-sufficiency they are asked to leave the program and their spot is given to another, more motivated family."
In 2019, the program had 32 families in the Cedar Valley. Lambrecht says each family can participate in the program for a year with a follow-up every three months for a year after they complete the program.
“It builds them from where they're at in their life to being self-sufficient,” said Lambrecht.
Lambrecht says the initial assessment of a family determines their goals and where to start.
"When they're in shelter, our priority is housing and permanent housing,” said Lambrecht.
Things like securing housing, teaching life skills like budgeting, and connecting families with opportunities are various aspects of the program, all of it with the aim of offering hope.
“I came from a family where I was told I was never going to be nothing. I was going to have kids at an early age, I was going to drop out of school,” said Gosa.
In fact, school was near the top of Gosa's goals. Once she got a car as well as reliable childcare, she enrolled at Hawkeye Community College, and now has a certificate in Patient Access and Front Desk.
“So I actually accomplished everything from going in that shelter,” said Gosa.
The Pathway of Hope program started in 2017 in Waterloo and since then they have had 64 families enrolled. 41 participants graduated or discharged successfully the program, 17 active participants, 6 unsuccessful. The Pathway of Hope program each year also has a graduation ceremony for each participant.