A hand up, not a hand out to end the cycle of poverty for families in the Roanoke Valley

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Research shows that children who grow up in poverty are 32 times more likely to be in poverty as adults.

Bridget Tolliver is a new Pathway of Hope participant, who is working to be a better mom to her two children.

Ending the cycle of poverty is one of the goals of the Salvation Army, and its program, Pathway of Hope.

You could say that the agency is helping families pick up, where the Angel Tree program leaves off.

"Angel Tree's a great program to help people in times of need, and there's a three year limit. It's not an entitlement program. It's not something you can do every single year to get presents for your kids. It's for people who are in really desperate situations," says Deborah Cobourn, with the Salvation Army in Roanoke.

Angel Tree recipients in Roanoke now have to take budgeting classes.
Cobourn is teaching those classes to help parents become more self sufficient.

"Sometimes, when you keep giving and giving and giving, it takes something away from a person's dignity. So, we want to help people help themselves," says Cobourn.

The Salvation Army is taking that mission a step further, with the program, Pathway of Hope.

It offers case management and other tools to help parents end generations of poverty.

Bridget Tolliver is one of the participants.

She grew up as a foster child.

Now, she's a mom, and wants her two small children to have a better life.

"You have to really want the services, and want to do better. It's not about somebody just handing out to you. If I'm getting off of services, I have to really work toward doing better and not doing the same thing and dwelling in government housing, trying to get your own apartment, budgeting, just being financially stable," says Tolliver.

Tolliver loves cooking, and wants to someday open her own international restaurant in Roanoke.
She's now enrolled in the culinary program at Virginia Western, and says she feels like she's a better mom now.

"I feel like I'm finding meaning between everything, my work, my kids and trying to get them to have everything that they need and for me to be situated to take care of them," says Tolliver.

Cobourn says Tolliver is a shining example of where she hopes the Pathway of Hope will lead for others.

She says, "the mitigating factor is they want to change. They don't want a hand-out. They want a hand up."