Salvation Army aids in woman’s recovery

Bay Area News Group

Published November Blog

Note: This story is from our Blog campaign and has been fulfilled, but you can still donate to the Share the Spirit general fund.

For Gloria Padilla, Salvation Army’s youth camp was the break she needed, allowing her to keep her job during school’s summer recess.

“I couldn’t afford child care,” she said.

Padilla and her husband had a series of setbacks that started when she lost her job of 15 years while in alcohol rehab in 2012. She gives much of the credit for their turnaround to the Salvation Army.

Her husband, Ramiro, took time off from his job to care for their three young children during her recovery, but then he became seriously ill. His job was no longer waiting when he was finally able to return to work.

“We couldn’t afford food,” Padilla said. “Both of us had to look for work; we had never had to. It humbled me.”

She found another job but at half the pay of her previous one. Her husband also eventually returned to work, but also at reduced pay.

As the end of the school year approached last spring, Padilla was worried. The San Lorenzo couple were barely paying their bills, sometimes having to use food pantries; there was no money left over for all-day child care.

“I thought I would have to quit my job to watch my children,” she said.

But Padilla happened to spot a Facebook posting announcing four openings left in a low-cost summer camp at the Salvation Army’s Hayward center on A Street.

“I called right away,” she said, enrolling her children: Angel, 10, and twins Bobby and Bella, 7.

Padilla said at first she was concerned about dropping off her children for the day.

“They loved it here; they still do. I was more nervous than them,” she said, laughing recently as she sorted applications for Christmas food and toy baskets at the Salvation Army, where Padilla now volunteers.

“My boy is very shy. He bloomed; he opened up at camp,” she said.

Laughing comes more easily for Padilla these days. Money is still tight, but she worries less.

“We budget now; I never used to look at prices,” Padilla said. “But we managed to keep our house, thanks to refinancing and family.”

The Salvation Army helped the family out with back-to-school clothes and supplies, and they signed up to receive a holiday basket.

After their camp experience, her children asked to attend other Salvation Army programs, she said. All three are enrolled in the Salvation Army’s youth troop program where Padilla helps out.

“I try to do as much as I can,” she said.

The Padillas also attend social activities at the Salvation Army, including its Halloween party this fall.

The mom was able to take a much-needed break at a woman’s gathering at the center, where she and others were pampered with facials and massages, then eating popcorn while watching a movie.

“I hadn’t been out in ages,” Padilla said.

Salvation Army of Alameda County has received funding for its holiday program this year from Share the Spirit, an annual campaign to enhance the holiday season for needy residents in the East Bay. The grant is administered by the Volunteer Center of the East Bay, and donations support more than 30 nonprofit agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

“Share the Spirit money is used for both food and gifts for families throughout Alameda County,” said Capt. Dan Williams, coordinator for Salvation Army of Alameda County. “We depend on the money to buy toys, coats, things for children and food for families for Christmas.”

Padilla signed up to help serve Thanksgiving dinner at the center on A Street where more than 700 people were expected. The family also volunteered to be red kettle bell ringers for a shift during the nonprofit’s annual holiday fundraiser.

They have started attending church at its Hayward center, and Padilla said she plans to get even more involved.

“Salvation Army does not judge; everyone welcomed us,” she said. “Thanks to them, I’m almost three years sober.”

How to help

The Share the Spirit campaign, sponsored by the Bay Area News Group, supports many local resources during this special time of year. Share the Spirit’s mission is to enhance the November/December holiday season for the most needy residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties by funding nonprofit holiday and outreach programs.

On donation page, please select
"Salvation Army of Alameda County"

Note: This story was fulfilled, but you can still donate to the general fund

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