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Salvation Army highlights 'Change Program'

Program offers financial assistance to those falling behind on bills

Salvation Army highlights 'Change Program'

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - For many, keeping up with all the bills can sometimes feel overwhelming, but a program by the Salvation Army is helping people become more financially independent.

Over last several weeks, the Salvation Army in La Crosse has rebranded its 'Eviction Diversion Program,' to now what's called the 'Change Program.'

The program helps people by providing financial advice to those who feel they are falling behind on their bills.

The change in name was to help better reflect the goal of the program: changing your life before an eviction is issued.

Shirley Spreeman is like many; she has a good job as well as an apartment. But keeping up with the bills of everyday life remained a challenge.

"I shouldn't feel like I'm living paycheck to paycheck, and you begin to feel smaller, smaller, and smaller, and you don't want anyone to know that," Spreeman said.

About a year ago, Shirley discovered a program at the Salvation Army that helped people stay on the right financial track.

"Our goal really is to make sure when we have people came and talk to our case managers -- that they are finding these specific things these people need help with, and making sure they can do them to avoid getting that eviction notice in a couple of months," Nick Ragner of the Salvation Army said.

Every couple of weeks, Spreeman meets with a case manager to go over ways she can help her bottom line.

"First of all, it was just getting on target with a budget, and seeing what I had coming in and coming out, and really keeping that on paper, and realizing every check that came in I wanted to watch that closely, and save all my receipts," Spreeman said.

The Salvation Army says the new ‘Change Program' title better reflects what the program is all about.

"The goal, obviously, is to keep people from going homeless, but we want to help people, more or less, change their ways, make them become more self-sufficient," Ragner said.

Spreeman says she's in much better financial shape now, and she hopes others will take advantage of the program.

"What I would tell people is the Salvation Army offers anybody; whether you think you are the poorest of poor, whether you have a good job, even if you aren't married and have a ton of children -- I think they are there in the community to help anybody who comes in," Spreeman said.

To be eligible for the program, families and individuals must have a source of income, no current eviction notice, as well as no immediate need for financial assistance.

Anyone interested can head to Salvation Army to fill out an application.; 96 families have already been helped from the program since it began in 2013.

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