When Katherine Reid and her mom came to The Salvation Army’s Crossroads Shelter in Independence, Mo., it was for a fresh start. Due to her mom’s substance abuse, they’d been through hard times and had even lost their house. At the shelter, they not only found help but people who cared and a new sense of family. It connected Katherine to what eventually would become her life’s work.
“People had dinner together. They had chores. They did Bible study. I had other kids to play with; it was so great,” said Katherine. “It kept me focused and steady—to come home and have someone help me with homework versus just trying to figure it out on my own was a big thing. I remember saying ‘I want to do something like this one day.’ That was my dream,” she said.
Later as a mother herself, Katherine couldn’t make ends meet and didn’t know where to turn since she’d been self-reliant. At her aunt’s suggestion she called the Lawrence, Kan., Corps and got an appointment with a caseworker. Though the office was closing when Katherine arrived late due to extenuating circumstances, caseworker Kate Rylander welcomed her and not only provided assistance but connected her with the Pathway of Hope (POH) initiative.
“I just remember feeling so relieved,” Katherine recalled. “If we hold loosely to our plans and give God room to move, it can change people’s lives like mine.”
With POH’s strengths-based approach, Katherine set goals to get a job that was more fulfilling and would better support her family and secured a new position. It was through volunteering at the corps she discovered what she really loved—helping people. She volunteered at the corps every day before going to work in the evenings.
Initially content to just serve others, she eventually attended worship at the corps and found people were friendly and the sermon spoke to her heart. She became a leader for character-building programs, soldier, corps council member and then an intern in the Ministry Discovery program.
Taking Uber to the Independence, Mo., Corps, for her second internship, she was dropped off at the shelter which seemed familiar, and she talked about this with the first person she saw, Kathy Asher.
“When she said it was a shelter, I got chills,” said Katherine, who realized it was where she’d lived as a child. It was Kathy’s turn to be stunned; she’d been coordinating services there for more than 30 years.
Katherine couldn’t help but think God had brought her back to do for others what someone had done for her. She says it was a blessing to build relationships with people at the shelter, to hold Bible studies and to introduce them to the other services, programs and community of support at the corps.
This year Katherine is the first officer to be commissioned who came to her calling through POH. As she expected, training challenged and shaped her but it also provided encouragement, support and the beginning of lifelong friendships.
“I am ready to go out and pour into people’s lives like others have been pouring into mine,” she said. “It’s about love, looking beyond how the world sees people to see them as God does.”