Salvation Army Success Story

Salvation Army Social Services volunteer Barbara Ennis looks over a case file.

Salvation Army helps retired government employee with electric bill


Sometimes unexpected things happen in life. One retired government employee wasn’t expecting to raise another child, but he became the legal guardian for his 7-year-old granddaughter. He is in the process of adopting her, but as long as he is her legal guardian, she is not eligible to receive food stamps or his survivor’s benefits, which would provide another check for the home.

Meanwhile, the grandfather had a hard time making ends meet. He ended up at the Salvation Army, a United Way agency. They assisted him with his electric bill and offered food. He turned down the food, since he was used to helping others, not the other way around.

“Without our assistance, he would not have been able to keep the lights on in their home, and could possibly have lost guardianship of his granddaughter as well,” the Salvation Army caseworker said.

Like the retired government worker, many Washington County families struggle to make ends meet. According to the 2015 Community Profile commissioned by the Bartlesville Regional United Way, a family of three in Washington County needs to make $32,527 ($15.40 an hour) to be self-sufficient, which means meeting needs such as food, clothing and shelter while not receiving any government or private assistance. Thirty-four percent of the families in Washington County made less than the self-sufficiency wage.

United Way strives to increase the number of families who are financially stable. The five keys to financial stability identified in a national study by United Way Worldwide are family-sustaining income, affordable housing, income supports, manageable expenses and savings and assets. United Way funds programs at partner agencies, initiatives and through the Venture Grant cycle to help local families build a stronger financial future.

At the Salvation Army, United Way provides support to the Social Services program, which provides assistance with rent and utilities to help clients – such as the retired grandfather and his granddaughter- stay in their home or keep their utilities turned on. Each client is only eligible to use the service once a year. It is designed to help those who are behind on payments get caught up. Each client also receives help with their budget to ensure that they don’t fall behind again.

Last year, 51 households received rent assistance and 124 households received utility assistance through the program. Also, 47 households received gasoline vouchers to allow them to afford to drive for job interviews and other essential activities.

“By supporting programs like the Social Services at Salvation Army, United Way is providing stability to families who need a little extra help,” Bartlesville Regional United Way Marketing Manager Abigail Singrey said. “By being able to stay in their homes, it allows the children to continue to go to the same school, minimizes stress and gives the family time to come up with a plan for their future.”