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Caseworker job with the Salvos brings new life to Elle

Elle Smith is proud to be working for The Salvation Army as a Doorways caseworker.

Elle Smith says she has grown closer to God since she started working for The Salvation Army as a Doorways caseworker in Coffs Harbour (NSW). She shares her story with Salvos Online.


I started working for the Salvos as a drought relief assessor. Prior to that, I had only been working as a barista at Maccas, so this was my first big job out in the workforce. It was just a beautiful way to start my professional development. My team leaders were gorgeous, constantly checking in on me, always offering a listening ear, great guidance and good mentors.

Then an opportunity to work for The Salvation Army’s PAL [Phone Assistance Line] came up, and I was offered to work there full-time. At the time I was only 18. I was still quite young, so I was so grateful that they didn’t see my age as a sign of inexperience. I have lived experience.

Then, I had an opportunity to move up to Coffs Harbour [on the NSW mid-north coast.] I had completed my Diploma [in Case Management], and a year later the Salvos contacted me and asked me to apply for a Doorways Case Management position.

The values that the Salvos have – I see it in everyone who works in the organisation – it’s such a beautiful place to be surrounded by amazing people. I went for the interview, and I was very lucky to get the job.

I was brought up a Catholic and went to a Catholic school, and as I went through high school my faith was no longer a priority for me. But it was always something underlying. When I had troubles, I did always pray, but I had lost touch with [my relationship with God.]

Being surrounded in my work by Andrew, Jeanette [Coffs Harbour Corps Officers, Majors Andrew and Jeanette Van Gaalen] and a lot of the volunteers who have such strong faith, it was an inspiration to me to get back in touch with that. It aligns so well with me and how I view the world.

I was a little bit nervous to speak about it at first. It was almost like I felt like I didn’t have enough experience. But I had an amazing support network. The Van Gaalens and their children have been really good to me ... letting me ask a lot of questions. I did a lot of readings and asked a lot of questions!

Then I had the opportunity to be baptised, and that was such a special experience. Since then, I have felt God every day, and I find a way to connect with him more and more now.

When I speak to members of the community that I am trying to support, I feel God in me. He speaks through me – everything feels so light. Knowing I have someone that I can turn to and talk to anytime and can love me unconditionally no matter what – is just such a beautiful feeling.

When I first started working for the Salvos, I could see God shining through all these people. Now, I get to be one of those people. I think if you just let God shine through you, people will see, and they will ask and want to be part of it!


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