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From chaos to calm – Ali labels herself ‘a miracle’

Ali feels grateful to serve through the Salvos and to God for bringing her to where she is today.


Just over five years ago, Ali had lost everything. As she bluntly puts it: “My life was filled with utter chaos and destruction, trying to fill a void with an addiction to ice.”

Today, however, Ali is free from drug use, deeply connected to her church and working for the Salvos as coordinator of a midweek gathering and meal for 120 people at City Salvos in Adelaide.

She is also a Salvation Army Doorways worker offering support, casework emergency relief, material aid, and referrals.

Ali’s passion for caring for others is deepened by the pain and struggle of her life and the faith she discovered on her journey.

“I married quite young, and that relationship dissolved after 15 years,” she says. “I then lost my career as an advanced care paramedic moving back to Adelaide, and it was from that I turned to drugs.

“I lost everything, including my children.”

A cry from rock bottom

In an unhealthy relationship during the height of her addiction, Ali also experienced extreme fear and violence. One day, literally running for her life, she jumped on a train – her clothes were torn, and she was beaten, bruised and bloody.

She called her parents, and that was the turning point. She reconnected with them, undertook residential recovery and joined a SMART Recovery group run by the Salvos. When she remarried, her husband encouraged her to try church at City Salvos in Adelaide.

“I found that they were just so welcoming, so loving and non-judgmental, and they really embraced myself and my husband,” she says. “Our church is our family, and we are blessed to be loved unconditionally.”

Ali openly shares her story to encourage others, saying, “People here know my story, they know my background, and they see me as a tangible source of hope. I’m a miracle in a sense, given where I’ve come from to where I am now.”

Caring for others

As coordinator of the DUO (Do Unto Others) program at City Salvos, Ali and a team of caring volunteers provide a weekly community meal for around 120 people. DUO grew out of the street ministry of the Adelaide City Salvos church around 10 years ago to provide support and connection for those struggling with homelessness, mental health issues, isolation and disadvantage.

Community members share a meal and their talents – playing music, singing, gardening and serving others in different ways. Birthdays are celebrated, prayers are shared, small groups support each other, and there are craft activities.

“There is a lot of love,” Ali says. “It’s beautiful.”

DUO also offers referrals to a range of Salvation Army services, including the Doorways program, which offers crisis intervention, early intervention and ongoing support via emergency relief, material aid and referrals.

Hope and transformation

“With all the support and all the love and light, we see transformations happen on a daily basis,” Ali shares. “They may come in steps, and we celebrate wins along the way – say, if someone has been accepted into casework, or if they’ve just been housed, or if their family is reconciled.”

As Easter approaches, Ali says, “Easter at DUO consists of a small devotion – a message of how Easter represents God’s great love for all of us in sacrificing his only son.

“My heart and our mission here is to love this city of Adelaide as Jesus does. I feel very privileged to serve and so thankful that God rarely calls the qualified but rather qualifies the called!”


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