SYRACUSE, N.Y– With over 40 services and 40,000 people coming through the Salvation Army yearly in Onondaga County, it takes one donor to make a difference in someone’s life.
Syracuse mother Olivia Aponte knows the hardships of our current state of the economy all to well.
“It’s a challenging parenting experience, especially for a single mom,” Aponte said. “I’m kind of that parent that likes to do things for herself till the very end when something bad is about to happen. Things are expensive and I not only provide for myself but also my son.”
Aponte balances the jobs of being a mom and a waitress in order to provide for her 3-year-old son.
“I try to give him the most normal life I can,” Aponte said. “He notices things from time to time, but I always remind him no matter what we go through I will always make sure we have a roof over our head, food on our table, and we will always be together.”
Despite the hard work Aponte has put into her parenting she is getting evicted from a place she once called home for three years.
“It took a toll out of my life, a really big one,” Aponte said. “It’s like I have to start all over after three years of so much work just to start back from the bottom.”
Aponte has turned to the Salvation Army for assistance when it comes to food, rent, and financial aid needs.
With a variety of services catered to many individuals situations, the Salvation Army has opened their facility to house and support Syracuse residents during these trying times.
“The past three years have been incredibly challenging for everyone,” said Donor Relations Manager Deanna Delmonico. “Since COVID food prices have gone up, it’s been difficult to get food, many people have lost their jobs so we were here the whole time, we never closed our doors once.”
Delmonico says the Salvation Army heavily relies on its donors in order to continue to provide for those who need additional support. The organization promotes campaigns and events such as their recent partnership with Wegmans.
The Salvation Army and Wegmans host a yearly charity throughout Central New York to raise funding for its organizations. During customers’ checkout at the grocery store they are able to round up their bill or donate $2 to help feed, house, and care for 47 local food bank partners of the Salvation Army.
As the pandemic continues to put a strain on the economy, many families like Aponte has relied on the organization as they discuss their financial situations, income, needs, and how they can help the individual moving forward. Employees at the Salvation Army handle each situation in a case by case study.
“It’s pretty quick, we set them up with a case manager,” Delmonico said. “We figure out what the issue is, what their specific needs are, and then they create a plan with them and meet with their case managers regularly.”
The goal during the process of receiving help and assistance through the Salvation Army anticipates on helping struggling families get back on their feet.
“I am so blessed that they actually picked me,” Aponte said. “So I was so happy that I got the call that ‘you’re eligible, we have it, we can help you.’ That is just a weight lifted off your shoulders.”