Theresa McKillop, Program Manager of Emergency Assistance & Homeless Outreach at The Salvation Army in Harvard Street D.C. Office
From a distance, The Salvation Army Emergency Social Services office on the alley corner of Harvard Street in Washington, D.C., appears to be a small organization, however, the organization is dedicated to helping the entire D.C. community.
The Salvation Army Program Manager Theresa McKillop said about four months ago, she and her homeless outreach coordinator, Paula Dyan, had been working with a homeless veteran, whose name won’t be used for confidentiality, for about six to seven years. Through Dyan’s efforts, the Emergency Social Services team connected her with housing, as well as furniture, first month’s utility bills, clothing and other necessities.
It was a struggle for the client to adjust at first, McKillop said, noting that even though homeless veterans may receive help, the adjustment process isn’t easy. Having lived in an outside environment with no beds, or basic housing utilities, homeless veterans often struggle to accept their new life setting. Some even choose to sleep on the floor or by the door just for safety issues, McKillop said.
Eventually, the client adjusted to her new living environment and was also able to secure a job through the assistance of the homeless outreach coordinator.
At the moment, she continues to be employed and housed. The veteran is very thankful for her new life. She frequently comes back to the social services office to say hello and thank the workers for their efforts, according to McKillop. “I feel good about that,” McKillop said with a smile.
Stories like this, highlight the the social service workers’ success in helping homeless and disadvantaged veterans reach self-sufficiency.
The organization provided 33 veterans with rental assistance between October of 2014 and September of 2015. Veterans who were facing eviction due to late rent payments, or were homeless and found housing with the organization’s assistance, received first month’s rent paid along with security deposits, said McKillop.
As a non-profit organization, The Salvation Army Emergency Social Services helps vulnerable residents in D.C., many of whom are veterans. “We help with a whole gamut of services but primarily with rental and utility assistance,” McKillop said.
Aside from helping veterans and residents with rent and utilities, the organization assists with common needs like food, clothing, burial assistance and birth certificates.
“For folks who are homeless, there is a homeless outreach coordinator here that works and does more intense case management with them. So she connects them to things like VOC rehab (vocational rehabilitation) to help get them connected to job training programs, or to go through job training,” McKillop said. There is also assistance for GED enrollment and other educational programs.
McKillop said the Salvation Army gears their services towards the needs of the community, so as the needs of the community change, the organization adapts and changes.
As of now, McKillop says, The Salvation Army “will continue with their primary methods of assistance which include rental and utility assistance,” but the team hopes to obtain funding to cater their services more to veterans.
“We can look at the amount of veterans we do serve and see if there is a greater need,” said Salvation Army Social Service Program Coordinator Janese Simon.
“I maintain the staff and make sure we’re giving the best quality service to the clients that we serve,” Simon said.