This is one of a series of stories about the 15 nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.
Six years ago, Jamie Gruss was struggling with mental health issues as she separated from her husband. She found temporary shelter at TESSA, which is where she learned about the Salvation Army Fresh Start program.
If she hadn’t discovered that program, she says, she would never have discovered the passions that have led her to a new career and a home.
“If it wasn’t for the Salvation Army, I never would have become who I am today,” she said.
Gruss was accepted into the Fresh Start program in 2006 and housing was provided for two years.
At first she said she hated it and everyone there.
“They loved me anyway,” she said. “I finally began to open to it.”
When she graduated from the program, she and her three children received all of the furniture and supplies in their apartment to arrange in their new townhouse.
The Salvation Army also helped Gruss move from her job as manager for a convenience store into the health care field.
“I was amazed at how wonderful it felt to make a difference for others,” she said.
She became a Certified Nursing Assistant. And is in nursing school and working part-time as a CNA — all thanks to the Salvation Army, she said.
“They’ve done everything,” she said. Her children attend the agency’s after-school programs, and it has helped with emotional support, food, Christmas and anything that she has needed.
“Whatever you need, you can count on them, she said. “They’ll find a way to help out.”
Make a secure donation at www.fillanemptystocking.org. Call 476-1673 to make a credit card or stock donation. Make check payable to the Empty Stocking Fund and mail to P.O. Box 910942, Denver, CO 80291-0942. Contribute $10 by texting STOCKING to 50555. Like us on Facebook at EmptyStockingFund or follow us on Twitter @esfsprings.