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4 October 2020
Words Jennifer Short
My parents both had heroin-dependency issues when I was a little girl. Our neighbours owned a bakery, and I remember going next door most afternoons to get leftover bread to eat.
My parents separated when I was six, and there was a short period of time when they shared the care of both my older sister and I.
When we stayed with Mum, she often didn’t have enough money to feed us. It was tough for her as a single mum with the issues she faced.
Mum reached out to The Salvation Army for assistance and received immediate help. I remember going to the Salvos and getting some ‘little cards’ [food vouchers] that enabled our family to buy what we needed.
Whenever we went shopping after visiting the Salvos, Mum wasn’t as restrictive about what could go into our trolley. We could buy fresh produce and extra food. It was a happy time, like Christmas Day.
I really don’t know what would’ve happened if the Salvos hadn’t been there. We probably would have gone hungry more often.
I went on with my schooling, studied at university and am now a lawyer. My parents also became drug-free.
Last year, I saw a social media ad promoting the Salvos’ Red Shield Ride from Sydney to Melbourne. I’m an avid cyclist, so was immediately drawn to finding out more and participating.
I am always up for cycling challenges and started looking into it. It also brought back memories of my early years and how the Salvos had helped our family. I knew it was time to give back, and to combine that with a personal challenge as well.
I found the ride incredibly moving, as well as physically challenging. I pushed myself every day, which was quite emotional as well because you always discover a bit more about yourself in those conditions. The organisers kept us on the move at the end of each day too; there was always someone from the local Salvos sharing about what they were doing in their local area. I loved it.
In Canberra, all the riders attended the Red Shield Appeal launch. A Salvation Army client told the story of how much the Salvos had helped him through his heroin addiction and now raising his little girl.
I was so moved by this. I went up to him and shared my story, told him that I was just like his little girl and now I am a lawyer and have a happy life. It gave him a wave of hope that he was on the right track with his daughter.
It was great to ‘give back’ through the ride. I made heaps of friends and we keep in touch.
What is so lovely in this day and age, where everything is so fast paced, is that the Salvos are there when people’s lives take a downturn; and that they are so willing to give their time to others. This is what makes the world go around.