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Salvation Army START Program Battles Homelessness

By Andrea Lucia, CBS 11 News
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Sketch artist Tina Johnson, who is part of the Salvation Army's START program.

Sketch artist Tina Johnson, who is part of the Salvation Army’s START program.

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Sketch artist Tina Johnson can guess a lot about a person from their eyes.

“It could tell me if a person is happy. It could tell me if they’re sad,” she said. “I guess that’s why they call them the windows to the soul.”

But, there’s something most people wouldn’t guess about her: She’s homeless.

When Johnson left her abusive boyfriend, she wound at the Salvation Army’s shelter in Fort Worth, and she considers herself lucky she did.

“It’s like, ‘Am I dreaming?’” she said.

The shelter did more than put a roof over her head; it sent her to college.

“I needed that opportunity to go back to school, do something with my artwork, make something of myself,” she said.

In the last two years, the Salvation Army’s START program has helped 11 shelter residents enroll in classes at Tarrant County College.

The program aims to give participants the tools to become self-sufficient again.

“It’s able to be done. You can start over again,” said Katrice Goodman, the program’s case manager.

Goodman used to be homeless too. Now, she teaches residents job skills, personal finance, even cooking.

So far, roughly 85 percent of her clients are no longer homeless after six months. Some say without the program, they’d still be on the streets.

“I think I’d be lost. In every way you could see it, I’d be lost,” Johnson said.

Instead, Johnson says, she’s now an inspiration to her 13-year-old daughter.

“She told me I meant the world to her,” she said. “She almost brought tears to my eyes when she said that.”

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