Tucked away in her office at The Salvation Army Cambridge Corps Community Center, you’ll find Director of Youth Ministries Amanda Chen. Amanda loves that her position allows her to engage with the community, focus on case management, provide life skills and job training for homeless men, and run the Senior Threads group. And, for those who have seen her chasing her 2-year-old son around the sanctuary on a Sunday, it’s no surprise that she has also started a support group for moms and dads in The Our Place Homeless Daycare Center. 

“The Salvation Army changes lives,” Amanda said. “For men in our Umoja program who have taken a hit from unfortunate circumstances like addiction or imprisonment, God has given me the gift of being able to help them talk about the positive and all of the good that they are now doing to rebuild their lives.”

Amanda knows firsthand what a gift it is to be given a second chance and attributes her deep faith to her own experience. “At age 17, I dropped out of high school. I eventually earned my GED and went on to earn a degree in Biblical Studies from Gordon College, but life wasn’t easy. I bounced around between residential group homes throughout my teen years. For some reason, I was given second chances that I didn’t deserve. Eventually, I cleaned up my act just in time to be a good big sister to my brother; however, our time together was cut short.”

Amanda helped her younger brother Henry get sober, but lost him to an accidental physician induced drug overdose. She was devastated. Though Amanda had only been attending The Salvation Army for a short time, a local Corps officer came to her house when he found out. He brought food, prayed with her, helped with the funeral and offered Amanda a summer job. “The Salvation Army invests in the future of youth. After college, I was thrilled to be hired as The Salvation Army’s Bridging the Gap Director in Worcester. Seeing what these youth were going through, I knew they had potential.”

Amanda left Worcester, yet she continues to stay in touch with many of the clients whose lives were changed because of The Salvation Army. Her faith led her to the Cambridge Corps with the dream of one day becoming a Salvation Army officer. “Whether it’s teens, adults, or seniors, helping an individual uncover their gifts and talents is a treasure because we all have good in us.”