I am a firm believer in the old adage of "There but for the grace of God, go I." I believe in Bridge and volunteer because Bridge is working to break the cycle of homelessness. To me the philosophy of teaching someone how to change their lifestyle to become independent and self sufficient, instead of just giving them a quick fix, is the meaning of success. The families establish pride and ownership in themselves and teach their children how to become successful adults. The concept of a hand up instead of a hand out! The staff are dedicated, caring professionals who go beyond the norm to make sure that their families succeed. They become honorary family members. It is not a job for them, it is a calling.
As a volunteer for Bridge Communities, I can honestly say I have never worked with a more dedicated, professional group of individuals who are truly committed to their work and their mission. Homelessness must be addressed and Bridge does this in a way that doesn't diminish the dignity of any family who needs help. Part of this is making the family realize that this is not a handout. They, in return for the help they receive, must dedicate themselves to the tasks at hand. There are those that have trouble committing to the Bridge path of success. Those who have completed the program have moved on to fulfilling lives. Volunteering, in any way, has made me realize even more than ever, what a great life I have and how much others need help and guidance. Thank God for Bridge Communities!
As one of the program partner parishes that Bridge Communities works with, I can say that they are one of the the most well organized, professionally staffed, and truly committed groups I have had the opportunity to work with. Bridge Communities has assisted our parish's transitional housing ministry in the early formation, through it's growth and into it's maturity. There staff has always been avaialble to assist us in any crisis, challenge or celebration. We have had the opportunity to use all the resources that Bridge provides. The educational coordinator, the employment coordinator, the executive director, the president and, most especially the case manager assigned to our group, have always been avaialble to us and willing to help us and be creative in solutions to help our clients on the road back to self-sufficiency. Bridge is a great group, with a great mission and a great deal of committment to what they do. We are thankful to be associated with them.
I am with one of the community partners helping provide mentors and financial support for Bridge families. Our church is much enriched by this relationship, as our volunteers are able to work with families striving to regain solid financial footing knowing that all of the professional resources Bridge provides are available to them. While the mentors visit their families weekly for budget guidance and emotional support, Bridge offers case management, tutoring, job assistance, and counseling for the clients. They are also the landlord of the apartments and secure a car for guest families as well. They screen the applicants to try and find families who have a desire and potential for success in the program. We would not be able to offer Transitional Housing assistance without them.
Bridge does a wonderful job of rescuing people who are on the edge of homelessness and providing them with a group of mentors that want them to succeed. Bridge works with various organizations who sponsor the family with a free apartment for two years. Bridge helps with training for the mentors and after school help and tutoring for the children. it is a powerful partnership that works to the benefit of the family at risk.
I have been volunteering as a mentor for families in the Bridge program for 9 years. It is easily one of the most worthwhile activities that I have ever done. It gives you the chance to make a huge difference in the life of one family.
I stared volunteering for Bridge about two years ago. My husband and I were invited to a Bridge Garden Party by a personal friend who at the time was also member of the Bridge Board. Until that time I had not heard of Bridge. Since I was retired and had time on my hands I offered to volunteer. I have since become a member of the Development Committee and have been volunteering in the office from time to time. Bridge made me aware of the homelessness in Du Page county which I'm sure many folks find hard to believe. While working in the office, I've seen women come in with their children in tow looking for help. The staff/volunteers/ tutors are caring and dedicated to seeing each and every client succeeds. The screening process to become a client of Bridge is very extensive and a strong commitment of the clients to the program is required. There is a lot of hard work by both Bridge and the clients to ensure a successful outcome of the program. Bridge Communities is a wonderful non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping the homeless.
I recently participated in Bridge Communities Sleep Out Saturday event at the beginning of November. I suddenly became aware of many of the obstacles that homeless people face on a daily basis. Although the Sleep Out was for one night, at the end of the night, I was able to go home and get warm and comfortable. Homeles people dont have anywhere to go. Food and shelter, a clean place to use the restroom, are major obstacles. I was able to share the evening with a group of friends, who do the homeless share their time with? Who brings up their morale and cheer them on? Its agencies like Bridge Communities and their programs that help people get back on their feet and better their situations.
My group has been a partner under the Bridge Communities umbrella for 16 years. The support that Bridge offers both clients and volunteers and the dedication of the Bridge staff is amazing. Just today our client was fired from her job and the Bridge staff member who knows her best spent at least 4 hours with the client and then 2 hours with the mentor team to help us process the situation and explore the next step. During all these years I've been impressed with Bridge's flexibility and creativity in helping our clients to be successful.
For the past 10 years, we have been mentors as part of a program partner with Bridge Communities. We have worked with 6 families, mentoring 4 of them. We are continually impressed with the acheivements of the families completing the Bridge 2 year program. We felt we had support during the process and guidance as to how to best help transform the families to become self-sufficient financially.