Helena, MT | Life Empowerment Program

Jan 16, 2018 | by Kathy Lovin

Val Mattfeldt – Social Programs Manager for The Salvation Army in Helena, Montana
Life Empowerment Program was established in order to help people get back on their feet. 

Capt. Rob Lawler – Salvation Army corps officer in Helena, Montana
Those who are homeless, families who are couch-surfing. We provide the housing but we're a program designed to help them become successful with life skills, abilities, accountability, helping them save money.

Darrin, program client at The Salvation Army in Helena, Montana
Well my living situation wasn't the best. I mean it just, no, wasn't the best. I wasn't a drug addict or an alcoholic. I was just legitimately, homeless-homeless.

Even though I did have my job I didn't have a place to live for a week. I stayed at a motel. That was like almost 400 bucks and after that, what was I gonna do?

Capt. Rob Lawler
If you don't have a place to live then you don't smell so good, you're not ready for work, you're missing work. So, Darrin, in order to be successful was spending on hotels which was taking most of his income.

A buddy of mine brought me over. It was just great to be able to wash clothes, get a hot meal. I think I slept almost the whole weekend when I first got there. 

Travis, program client at The Salvation Army in Helena, Montana
I had developed really bad cataracts. I could only see lights and shapes. On top of my wife leaving me and everything, I couldn't work, couldn't even spend time with my children. The landlord was pounding on my door for his rent money.

So, I went to the Salvation Army to get assistance with my rent and they're like, ‘hey, we see you're having a problem with your vision. Let's help you with that.’  And they connected me with the state of Montana and they paid to remove my cataracts. 

After having my surgery, it gave me the opportunity to come in and have a roof over my head while I continued looking for employment. 

Matt (Travis’ son)
I was really surprised because it was really big I never stayed in a two-story building. 

Zach (Travis’ son)
I was very excited ‘cause I had two bathrooms. So, if Matt was in the downstairs one, I could be in the upstairs one. 

Val Mattfeldt
When they first get in we start budgeting immediately because without that we've not done the
job. People say, ‘well I can't save money, that's not my thing.’ Well, yeah you can and it's important for them understand that’s why a lot of people are in crisis; because they mismanaged their money.

Val was really good about helping me come up with a budgeting plan to pay all my old debt off. I know I spent a lot of money buying quick-to-eat stuff. There was the nutrition class where I learned how to cook for my family.

Capt. Rob Lawler
God didn't ask us to become a burden, He asked us to take care of others in our community. We need to do that for people so that they can take care of those around them. Even if it's just their own family. 

Val Mattfeldt
We meet with them see how they're doing. We're here to help them when they fall flat on their face to say, ‘it's okay. You can get up. You can do this and we're gonna do it together.’  

If the people that come in are anything like me, they need that little boost of confidence and that little boost of encouragement. 

I've continued every Sunday, I'm there. On Wednesdays for Bible study, I'm there. So yeah, you know it's not because I have to now, it's because I want to.

It was so welcoming from the moment I walked in there, on a one-on-one basis. It was the first church where I had felt so welcomed. 

We started praying more as a family. Yeah, he was happier.

It even made me happy when he was happy. 

Anytime they need help with the church for different events, I'm always there if Captain Rob needs a hand. 

Val Mattfeldt
We're not just here to try to push him through a program. I can spend time with him. I can pray with him. If they're in a crisis I'm the first one they'll call.

I call her mom so yeah she's there for me when I need to talk to her as she's been also trying to help me find a place.

Captain Rob has become a very good friend of mine. We do a lot of camping and ATVing and stuff like that together.

Capt. Rob Lawler
When someone is not imminently going to be homeless that provides someone with dignity and then we can start talking about their salvation.

Yeah, I have to admit when I get an apartment it's gonna be weird leaving there, you know? But they're always gonna be my family. 

I don't know how to tell them how thankful I am for everything that they've done for me.

Val Mattfeldt
It's just not the financial end of it but it's to give back to them the love that Christ has given each one of us. Because without the Lord nothing's gonna work for anybody unless they really give their life to Christ.

It’s renewing my faith in Him and I've come out at a better, stronger person.

Capt. Rob Lawler
You know, it's what Christ called us to do. We need to help them with their dignity and
their abilities and love them.


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