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Social service 101

This module by Cadet Kelly Melfi

This module was prepared by Cadet Kelly Melfi, and presented in class on 4/27/2020. The class Power Point is attached under Aims below.

  • Background: B. S. in Human services. Director of Chartiers Valley (WPa) Service Center. Worked with Pathway of Hope.
  • Knows: Providing people with financial assistance does not change their situation. 
  • Wanted to learn: How to have the mind of Christ and inspire transformation.
  • Learned: The Spirit revealed "WE" as the approach that each of us can use to empower others rather than enable them. We can harm others when we insert ourselves into their lives. We cannot settle for the status quo in our social services if we want to see change in others.

Aims of this module

To discover our WE --

  • the Whosoever (all are made in the image of God) of poverty, and how we can
  • Engage / Encourage / Empower people living in poverty.

Have you ever helped anyone in poverty? Have you ever hurt anyone in poverty?




Poverty thresholds are used for calculating official STATISTICS. It is determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Poverty guidelines are used to determine financial ELIGIBILITY for certain federal programs. They are updated each year and specific to each state.


The cliff effect

"NBC News' Lester Holt investigates a double bind for a growing number of Americans. Some hard-working people are grappling with an economic "cliff effect" where a pay raise can actually make them worse off while also costing taxpayers at the same time." 

This disincentive happens when the gain in income from work is exceeded by the loss in income from benefits, because the person is no longer eligible for programs.

We have to be careful when referring people to certain programs because they can become reliant upon them. 

“Its hard to get out of it once you are in it, it feels just like a trap!”


What can WE do?

The Salvation Army has a unique opportunity

ASK OURSELVES: Have we ever helped someone facing poverty? Have we ever hurt someone facing poverty? Why do we still have people in poverty? What do we think poverty is? Are we offering physical responses to an otherworldly problem that has been ging on ever since the fall?

ASSESS: What kind of poverty is it?  What kind of response is called for?

ENGAGE, ENCOURAGE and EMPOWER using strength-based methods.

“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has—or ever will have—something inside that is unique to all time.” Fred Rogers


Corbett, S. & Fikkert, B. (2009). When helping hurts: how to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor--and yourself. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Mooney, L.A., Knox, D. & Schach, C. (2017). Understanding social problems (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.