Salvation Army volunteer Loretta Ray transformed by work

Salvation Army volunteer transformed by work

Salvation Army volunteer transformed by work

Harris County resident Loretta Ray has seen Salvation Army’s efforts from every angle. After turning to the nonprofit’s services to turn her life around, she has dedicated her life to helping others in the Greater Houston area do the same.

Ray first benefited from Sally’s House—a shelter run by Salvation Army for homeless women—when she was released from prison in 2006. While in prison, Ray wrote to Sally’s House Executive Director Gay McCurdy to ask for lodging upon her release.

“She wrote that she wanted to do something different this time, and that really struck me,” McCurdy said.

Ray lived at Sally’s House for under a year and learned to manage her addiction. After leaving, Ray worked for a catering company, married and returned to school. However, she said she felt the call to help others in a meaningful way.  In 2009, Ray returned to Sally’s House to work as a receptionist. She eventually took on other roles, until transitioning into her current role as a housing assessor.

McCurdy said she created Ray’s role just for her in 2016 because of her passion to find women stable homes.

Ray works with residents of Sally’s House and the Transient Women Center next door to help find suitable living conditions. Aungrey Horton, a current Sally’s House client, said Ray’s past experience provides encouragement.

“She’s been there before,” she said.

After obtaining an associate degree in counseling and human service technology and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Ray is pursuing her master’s in social work at the University of Texas.

When Ray started her job as housing assessor, her only mandate was to get homeless women off the streets.

“I started counting all the women we helped at first, but when I got to 100 women [who] were off the streets, I started to feel pretty good,” she said.

In October, Ray was awarded the Coalition for the Homeless’ Achiever of the Year award. The accolade recognizes past homeless individuals who have transitioned out of homelessness.

“Without my time at Sally’s House, I wouldn’t be here,” Ray said.