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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

DrawBridge: An Arts Program for Homeless Children

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Services, Children & Youth, Youth Development Programs

Mission: The mission of DrawBridge is to provide art programs for homeless and other vulnerable children in an environment that fosters their sense of childhood joy, creativity and exuberance. Beyond that we strive to promote the well-being and stability of the family by creating a supportive community.

Results: We bring our Arts Program to 30 site weekly in 7 San Francisco Bay Area Counties: Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and Alameda.

Target demographics: Children in transitional homeless shelters and other vulnerable youth in the San Francisco Bay Area

Direct beneficiaries per year: Approximately 4000 children

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area

Programs: DrawBridge leads 30 weekly art groups in six San Francisco Bay Area counties. We expect that the numbers of children served in 2008 will exceed 1,700 as the program continues to expand throughout the Bay Area.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

By creating art we get to know and express ourselves. In the uncertain
>> lives of children experiencing homelessness, there might not be time
>> for this. DrawBridge provides just that. As a facilitator I have the
>> privilege of witnessing the joy that the children experience as they
>> express their creativity with the art materials we provide---every
>> week.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is my 11th year working with Drawbridge! The organization continues to have a strong commitment to bringing art-making opportunities and joy to the lives of homeless children in many shelters and temporary and low income housing facilities in the SF Bay area. The weekly art groups provide a safe space for the children to experience quality art supplies, and the freedom and support to experiment and express themselves. As a facilitator at two sites, I feel so lucky to be able to connect with the children and offer an hour of creativity, exploration, and fun!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have facilitated a Drawbridge art group for 8 years, and feel very fortunate to be a part of this incredible organization. My group is in a transitional housing complex where mothers and children of domestic violence can live for two years. There are many programs at this site to help the mother's adapt to their new situation, but nothing for the children. The kids look forward to this weekly art experience and I have seen wonderful transformations as children build trusting relationships with me and the volunteers, and gain confidence in themselves as they explore a wide variety of art materials.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DrawBridge is a great program for kids, I love to see them express their creativity in a setting that allows them to feel free and supported, it is the most rewarding experience as a volunteer to see their works of art and see how much they enjoy doing art.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been facilitating art groups for DrawBridge for over 15 years. This program is unique in that we art facilitators do not "teach" art lessons; rather, we provide all types of art materials so that children can explore their own creativity in a non-threatening environment. Kids who've experienced homelessness and poverty need more than food and shelter. They need emotional nourishment, too. They need consistency so that they can learn how to trust. That's what we strive to provide at our art groups.

Cara S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Drawbridge has been such an amazing experience for me as a volunteer and as a person. I have learned so much from the children we serve and it warms my heart to know that we are providing an amazing service (and good creative time) for those less fortunate.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've facilitated a weekly art program for many years now. I see the joy that the children experience every time they create something. I endeavor to provide a safe place for children to express themselves and have a very good time. Drawbridge provides top quality art supplies and support for working with children whose are experiencing the difficulties of homelessness.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DrawBridge is a great program, providing a consistent presence for homeless and other vulnerable children for over 20 years. Watching these children open up and have an opportunity to just be kids is so gratifying. One mom told me that her daughter now wakes up every morning and asks, "is today art day?" I've seen this child change from sullen and withdrawn, to open, joyful and confident. The expressive arts programs offered by DrawBridge make a huge difference in the lives of these vulnerable children.

Previous Stories
11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Drawbridge is a wonderful program that provides a time and place for homeless and other kids in need to express themselves, away from the emotional,physical, and financial stresses of their lives. The volunteers and facilitators offer love, support, consistency and attention that may be lacking in their lives. For example, a 5 year old joined the group with an alarming and destructive dose of self loathing. As volunteers and facilitators have given her consistent non-judgmental support week after week, her self confidence and socialization skills have improved. Drawbridge has been a consistent positive presence in many of these children's lives for years.

Audrey Z.

Donor

Rating: 5

Drawbridge provides support to a deserving, under-served population. Providing these children with a creative outlet is invaluable. These kids feel comfortable expressing themselves in what they perceive to be a safe environment.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with homeless children on a weekly basis was so rewarding for them as well as myself. I became an important part of their week & the art group was a fun place to forget their worries and enjoy the art materials.

Donor

Rating: 5

I cannot think of a more deserving population than homeless children that don't have the bare basics as a roof over their heads and a bed to cope with a life of uncertainties and guaranteed hunger. Drawbridge focuses on the most vulnerable of populations. Non-profits that serve the homeless do not enjoy the glitz and prestige of other organizations especially if you compare them to other artistic non-profits. Drawbridge is unique and with a truly altruistic mission! Lydia Arellano

Donor

Rating: 5

This amazing organization serves a community of children who would never be provided with the opportunities and support, but for its devotion to them. Both, in terms of service and personal attention. It is grass roots and volunteer directed professionally and from the heart. The funds go to those that need and not to support its infrastructure.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DrawBridge brings a warm fuzzy feeling to people and places that need it. Art is a miraculous tool for building community, friendship, trust and hope. Children, who don't often get to, get to be creative, and more importantly, feel safe and loved.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Seven years ago I began as a volunteer for DrawBridge in San Rafael. Over the years I have witnessed first-hand the impact of this unique and wonderful program on the lives of disadvantaged children. Each week they leave their cares and worries at the door and run into the room happy and ready for hugs, eager to immerse themselves in making art, discovering their own special power to create something out of nothing. For over 20 years, DrawBridge has given this gift of time and attention to thousands of children who need and deserve your support!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I been a volunteer with Drawbridge since April. Since discovering the organization I have fell in love with it. Being able to bring a positive program to these kids lives is something very beautiful and close to my heart. Seeing the kids' smiles and creative expression means so much. It is something they look forward-and something I do too.

7

Former staff

Rating: 5

I have worked with DrawBridge for over 12 years. The children we work with are desperate for love and attention from adults this is a way for them to connect to positive role models. I have heard many children ask us to come everyday to do art with them instead of just once a week. These weekly art groups add so much to their lives.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DrawBridge makes a difference in homeless children's lives around the San Francisco bay area on a daily basis. Through its expressive arts program in homeless shelters, transitional and low-income housing and domestic violence shelters DrawBridge places trained volunteers and art group facilitators to work with some of our most vulnerable children. I've seen the smiles on childrens faces as they work in various art media provided. It's such a blessing to give them a little time to be a child once again!

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

DrawBridge has been for twenty years and continues to be a GREAT program. It gives homeless and vulnerable children a safe environment and consistency in their lives. Expressing yourself through arts does not get any better. I have participated in two hour programs with children, gone to volunteer trainings and seen the big hearts of all the program people.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Drawbridge provides a stable, safe and creative environment and trusting relationships for homeless kids. My teenage daughter has been a volunteer at Drawbridge for almost 2 years and throughout these many months I have been impressed over and over again with the way Drawbridge changes lives for the better. By focusing on children, Drawbridge is helping to improve all of our futures.

3

Former staff

Rating: 5

I worked for Drawbridge for 4 years and now, a year after I moved away, I still miss it every day. Drawbridge is a phenomenal organization. They provide an essential service for homeless children all over the bay area. No words can describe the sense of love, achievement, growth and comfort these children feel as a result of their time in Drawbridge art groups. In addition, the staff and volunteers are all greatly appreciated, supported, and given the opportunity to connect and grow. In short, this organization about about more than just the arts, it is about community. It is about helping everyone involved feel at HOME.

6

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

"Children learn through Play" I love this quote. I think there is so much pressure in society for children to grow-up. Remember when the best part of being a child was playing. DrawBridge let's children play. Specifically, they provide homeless children and other vunerable youth with a safe environment to express themselves through art. There is something magical when a child face lights up with delight in making art. About 44,000 children are homeless in the Bay Area. They live in shelters all across the Bay Area. Homelessness is a very difficult thing to deal with, imagine what a child feels. Many of them are suffering emotionally, art is a great outlet for them. As a volunteer, I noticed how the kids would change every week. There was one girl who didn't speak, just make squeaks, but after 3 weeks she was the most talkative. We also had some teenagers in the group. I remember when I was a teenager faced with so much pressure and decisions. I believe that the teenagers in our group make better decisions. I made a strong connection with one of the teenagers. She always felt comfortable talking to me about issues in school. If DrawBridge were to close its doors, it would leave these kids no place to vent their frustration or joy.