Life hasn’t always been easy for Nate Ross. But now with appropriate supports in place, he is able to live out the motto of the United Way, Be the Change, through his volunteering work at the Salvation Army.

Life hasn’t always been easy for Nate Ross. But now with appropriate supports in place, he is able to live out the motto of the United Way, Be the Change, through his volunteering work at the Salvation Army.

After a series of what Ross describes as bad choices, he found himself homeless at age 16, couch surfing or sleeping on park benches in Hannibal. Now, he is now back on his feet and excited to be able to assist people who are experiencing hard times.

“I enjoy giving back,” said Ross, who is now 19 years old.

He gives back by spending time each week at the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army, an agency of the United Way, assists individuals within the Hannibal area who are struggling to meet basic needs. A wide array of programs are available at the Salvation Army to assist individuals who are struggling. Programs include their food pantry, bread line, emergency utility assistance, and emergency rental assistance. In addition, the organization offers several programs that equip individuals with the resources they need so they don’t have to rely on crisis intervention services.

The Salvation Army’s LEAP, Life Employment Assistance Program, helps individuals overcome obstacles in getting hired or losing a job. This program provides funding for individuals to obtain necessary work items such as steel toe boots or nursing scrubs. In addition, the program assists with car repairs so individuals can get to and from work. For some people, a flat tire without spare can mean the loss of their job. This program prevents those situations from occurring.

The Pathway to Hope Program connects families with needed resources within the community to overcome the cycle of poverty. Families interact with a social worker to identify goals and receive guidance to reach their aspirations.

“At the Salvation Army, we wear lots of weird hats,” said Alex McIntosh, social services caseworker at the organization in Hannibal. “Nate just jumps in and does whatever needs done.”

Ross has been volunteering at the organization for more than three months. He can be found most days at the Salvation Army in the Steamboat Bend Shopping Center sweeping and mopping, packing food boxes, breaking down boxes, unpacking the food truck, and sorting food in the food pantry. In addition, Ross has fixed a printer and does whatever needs done.

“Everyone who works here is really nice,” shared Ross. Ross assists clients and sees people who are struggling. He gets it. He has been there.

“I think it is good people have somewhere to go and get help,” Ross said. Ross began volunteering over the summer at the Salvation Army. He attends Hannibal Public Schools Alternative High School and receives high school credit for this volunteer work. He is on track to graduate at the end of this semester.

“The main thing I want to do after high school is save money for college,” Ross said. But, he will still be found volunteering at the Salvation Army. He has found a great volunteering fit.

“He likes coming here,” McIntosh said, “and we like having him here to help.”

To learn more about the United Way visit http://unitedwaymta.org