Summer Donations at Common Goods

garagesale-640x391Summer time is upon us which means two things at Common GoodsGarage sale season and increased donations. Because of this, I have a couple of questions to ask you:

  • Do you have great items just sitting around that you no longer have any use for?
  • Have you recently had a garage sale or plan on having one in the near future?

If so, we may be able to help you out with some of your left over treasures! If you have items that you feel may be a good fit, we invite you to call us at 218-824-0923 or visit us at 16227 Hwy 371 N Brainerd, MN next to Dondelinger Chevrolet. We suggest you call the store to verify that we are currently accepting items and to see what our greatest needs currently are. Under most circumstances we receive donations until 5:30 pm daily. However, there are times that we have to temporarily stop receiving items due to the amount of generous donations we receive. At Common Goods we have discovered that it is in our best operating practice to only accept what we can process in one working day. If you have a large amount of items to donate we ask that you call ahead to schedule a time to donate them. The call allows us to plan ahead to prepare for the increased amount of processing that will occur.

Here is a general guideline of the items that we typically can and cannot utilize for the families we serve:

Items that we can best utilize to generate revenue to serve families:
  • Quality furniture pieces with no tares, stains or faded
  • Newer home decor pieces
  • New or gently used clothing & footwear
  • Dish or glass sets for a place setting of 4+
  • Reading books in new like condition

Items that we typically CANNOT accept to generate revenue to serve families:

  • Seasonal or holiday items 3+ months before the season
  • Large exercise equipment
  • Individual glasses, mugs, dishes
  • TV’s, computers and stereo equipment
  • Stuffed animals
  • High chairs or strollers
  • Furniture that is stained, faded or ripped

For more information on our donation guidelines, please visit our website.

We would like to thank all of our generous donors and shoppers for their loyal support over the past five years. Without your support it would not be possible to do the work we do and serve households in the Brainerd Lakes Area. So again, thank you!

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Summer Store Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day):

Monday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm & Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm. We hope to see you soon!

Gordon and Rhonda’s Moment

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This year marks the 10th year that Bridges of Hope has been offering Crisis Nursery Services to the Brainerd Lakes Area. Yes, you read right–TEN YEARS! That’s a decade of giving parents a safe childcare option during a family crisis, which translates into thousands of children placed into the loving care of our selfless providers since the start of the program.

So what exactly is Crisis Nursery? It is a safe, positive childcare option for parents that have nowhere else to turn. There are Crisis Nurseries all around the state of Minnesota, and while they all operate a little bit differently, they also all have one thing in common: the goal to keep kids safe while providing stability to parents during a stressful time.

What defines a crisis? A crisis can be a single mom needing a break and not having friends or family who can provide her with that break. It can be a medical issue preventing a parent from caring for their children as they normally do. Or it can be work & medical related, like Gordon & Rhonda’s situation:

Gordon called one afternoon sounding extremely stressed; his voice full of concern. He explained to me that his wife Rhonda recently had had surgery, and during her recovery she had very limiting lifting restrictions. Gordon said that not only was Rhonda unable to do normal, routine tasks; she also wasn’t able to lift their ten-month-old son. Gordon said their family members had been helping out as much as possible, but there was a day coming up when he had to work and no other family members were available to help with childcare. Gordon said it was one of those family members that told him about the Crisis Nursery Services provided by Bridges of Hope.

Ames_3410 Gordon had already taken some time off work and if he missed another shift, he was afraid he would be suspended from his job, so he was wondering if the family could use Crisis Nursery for his ten-month-old son and three-year-old twin daughters while he was at work. Gordon explained that he only needed help for one day, as his mother was coming to stay with them for about a week until Rhonda had recovered enough for her doctor to lift her restrictions. I assured Gordon that this was an appropriate situation for Crisis Nursery Services; and after a few phone calls to various childcare providers, an available provider was located. Gordon let out a HUGE sigh of relief when I told him a provider was available to care for his children.

We always attempt to follow up with parents and providers after they’ve used the Crisis Nursery, to make sure everything went smoothly, see how they are doing, and to make sure the situation has been fully resolved. Almost 90% of parents surveyed report feeling less stressed, thanks to Crisis Nursery Services.This was certainly true for Gordon:

When I followed up with Gordon the day after using Crisis Nursery, he said he was so relieved that he didn’t have to miss another day of work, and he was able to focus at work knowing that his children were in good hands. Gordon said his daughters loved the childcare provider because she was kind, caring, and she had a dog! Gordon expressed his thanks one more time and said he knows where to turn if he is ever in an emergency situation like this again.

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If you or someone you know could benefit from more information about our Crisis Nursery Services, please call 218.825.7682 to speak with one of our Resource Specialists, or visit our website.

Want to help ensure these services remain available for those who need them? Make a donation today!

Mental Health: Let’s Talk About It!

mentalhealthawareDid you know that one in four of us will have some kind of mental illness in our lifetime?

Yeah, I was surprised too. I think that might be because mental illness is one of those topics that still make people pretty uncomfortable to talk about–so we don’t. We keep it under wraps.

But we shouldn’t! One in four of us? That’s a lot of us! My own family has four people in it…and if one of us had a serious physical health or medical condition, I’d certainly be talking about it with them–as well as with my friends and extended family. And I’d be finding out as much as I could about the condition, and finding out where I could reach out for support–both informal and professional support.Make-it-OK-Infographic-r2

So, since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s do the same thing with mental illness…let’s talk about it…let’s get it out there in the open and learn from each other…let’s support each other…and let’s get rid of all those awkward feelings around talking about it!

But Kassie [you might be thinking]…it’s not comfortable–and even if I WANT to talk about it…that doesn’t mean I know HOW to go about doing that.

Hmm. Good point.

So…what CAN you do to get more comfortable talking about mental illness?

Well, I know that my own reluctance to talk about something often comes from not knowing what to say. So…let’s begin by learning more about it:

The infographic at the right, which was put together by makeitok.org, and this link to their website, are two great ways to get started.

Here are a few other sites that talk about mental illness as well as ways to support your loved ones:

(The views expressed on any external websites do not necessarily represent those of Bridges of Hope.)

And finally, I have found that when I just start talking about my own family’s experiences with mental illness–even when it’s a little uncomfortable at first–some of that discomfort goes away, and some of the stigma about mental illness goes away with it.

That’s all it takes, really–each of us, talking just a little more than we do now…reaching out to each other, and sharing our own experiences.

So let’s do it–together!

At Bridges of Hope, we can help you get connected to a local mental health counselor. Call our office at 218.825.7682 and speak with one of our staff today.

 

Is AmeriCorps VISTA Right for You?

AmericorpsVISTA50yrs2015Bridges of Hope is looking for a VISTA Member–a full-time volunteer who serves through AmeriCorps, to assist our organization with some very cool projects from August 2015-July 2016.

VISTA is often described as the “domestic version of the PeaceCorps,” and is a national service program that Bridges has successfully participated in over the course of several years of our organization’s history. The focus of VISTA is on reducing and eliminating poverty.

It can be a great opportunity for recent college grads looking to gain experience in the human services field, and it is also an opportunity for recent retirees looking for a way to give back to their community—as well as for many others in-between these two poles of life!

Here’s what Jacklin, a former AmeriCorps member–and current Bridges of Hope staff–had to say about her experience with VISTA:

After spending almost 2 years as an out-of-state AmeriCorps member, I was eventually placed in Deerwood, MN, where I finished up and entered the “real” world. Those years as a VISTA are what prepared me for where I am now, three years later. It not only gave me that on-the-job training that’s so vital, but it also taught me life skills that I needed. I learned how expensive and limited housing options can be, especially when choosing to do something as “crazy” as having a dog! I learned how to live on a very small budget and what things were absolutely needed and what I could live without. I learned what things were out there that I could ask for help with – and I learned how it felt to ask for help.

The experience allowed me to start realizing what priorities meant the most to me and that there were consequences to those choices. My AmeriCorps time put me in a position that I had never been in before. It’s because of those experiences that I feel I could better relate to the people I would eventually work with. It’s allowed me to pose the question, “what would I have done?” and I can draw on actual experience as I think about it.

Looking back, those were definitely some hard years that I’m still making up for (hello, credit card bill!), but I wouldn’t have changed or replaced them for anything. I got to travel to places that I would never have otherwise. I got to meet some of the greatest people, and I now spend my vacation time going back to see old co-workers. If you’re looking for a challenge with great rewards and a little life experience thrown in, then I would definitely recommend AmeriCorps VISTA!

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Do you know someone looking for this kind of life-changing experience, or might YOU be that person? Bridges of Hope is currently seeking an AmeriCorps VISTA Member to assist our organization with a threefold project over the course of one year (August 2015 – July 2016). This is a fantastic professional development opportunity to grow your resume, give back to your community, expand your network, and gain experience within the nonprofit/human services sector!

For more information and to apply, visit http://bit.ly/bohvista. We will be accepting applications through the end of May 2015.

**New: effective May 3, 2015, VISTA members are now permitted to hold part-time employment outside of their VISTA assignment. More information is available upon request.

It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child

radiothon logoEach December, BL Broadcasting collaborates with local Child Protection Teams in our area to bring awareness to and raise funds for Child Abuse Prevention. The public service announcements during the on-air event state, “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.” How true.

Child abuse is difficult to think about, but we need to think about it and we need to create a community where parents are supported and children are nurtured.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month, another time of year to bring awareness to the struggles parents and children in our community are facing. It’s a time to shine a light on the good work being done to strengthen families.

Here at Bridges of Hope, we are proud to partner with Crow Wing County in a state-wide program called Parent Support Outreach Program (PSOP). This is a voluntary program for families to engage in when the want to stabilize their struggles with basic needs and strengthen their parenting skills. Click here to read about how the PSOP program helped Cindy and her family.

biracial childrenAnother service in our community that aims to support parents and reduce child abuse & neglect is Crisis Nursery Services, which is free, short-term crisis childcare for children 0-12 in Crow Wing County and the surrounding areas. The goal of the Crisis Nursery is to provide a safe place for children during a family crisis like Kendra & her children experienced.

Crisis Nursery is made possible through the Crow Wing County Child Protection Team with funds that YOU donate during the Radiothon to End Child Abuse. THANK YOU!

As community members, there are many things we can do to support families around us. Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota makes the following suggestions about what to do if you see a parent who is “on edge” in public:

  • Divert the adult’s attention.
  • Start a conversation with the adult. Offer sympathy. For example, you could say, “Shopping with children can really try your patience, can’t it?” Talk to the child.
  • If the child is acting out or misbehaving, start a friendly conversation to distract him or her.
  • Praise the parent or child.
  • Find something positive to say about the child or the parent. For example, “That’s a pretty dress your daughter is wearing. Where did you get it?”
  • Offer to help.
  • For example, if a child has been left unattended in a grocery cart, stay near him or her until a caretaker returns.
  • Avoid negative looks or comments.This may only increase the adult’s anger, making things worse for the child.

There are many preventative efforts happening in our community, however it is important to state that if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected in our area, you should contact Crow Wing County Social Services at 218-824-1140. 

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, please take a moment to enrich the life of a child in your life and support the parents around you. It really does take a village to raise a child!

Pinwheel for Prevention

Join us for Tea Time!

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teatime clockHave you heard? It’s “Tea Time” at Bridges of Hope!

That’s right; we are excited to be hosting our first-ever Afternoon Tea for Hope on Sunday, May 3rd at 3:00 PM. This will be an afternoon filled with fine tea, delicious food, lovely music, an exciting silent auction, a fun photo booth, fabulous decor, and good company.

We have the details all taken care of. We just need YOU to invite your daughter, mother, sister, or friends and RSVP to join us!

Kate KuepersYou will not want to miss this event. From the moment you arrive, you will be pampered by your surroundings. Our wonderfully talented friend, Kate Kuepers from Bloom Designs, will turn the Celebration Room at Lutheran Church of the Cross into a scene right out of an English garden!

(You really should check out Kate’s website. She does amazing work!)

While you are enjoying the lovely scenery, butler service will be provided by the finest firemen in the Lakes Area who will serve your tea while you nosh on savory bites from Prairie Bay and dine on delectable dessert from Edible Art Bakery!

Our guests will be entertained by music from local musicians and will have the opportunity to learn about the Side by Side Mentoring program at Bridges of Hope. The goal of the mentoring program is to move participants from a place of survival to place of stability and thriving. Take a few minutes to read about the struggles and accomplishments of Charlotte, Irene, and Samantha who have all participated in the program. We are so proud of their successes and are humbled by the support from the community for this program.

And what would an afternoon out with girlfriends, your mom, or daughter be without a little shopping?! Many local businesses and supporters of Bridges of Hope have donated great items for our silent auction. Here’s a sneak peak:  Vintage+1950s+hatsOh, but the fun doesn’t stop there! Biff Ulm will have his photo booth set up at the event so you can take some photos to remember this beautiful spring day. Feel free to wear your own hat, gloves, and pearls to the event. If you don’t have those things, no worries–the booth will be complete with some fun accessories to “glam up” your pics!

And as if butler service, tea, treats, music, decor, shopping, a photo booth, and some “girl time” isn’t enough…everyone who attends Afternoon Tea for Hope will leave with a small gift, thanks to another group of amazing local businesses! We want to thank YOU for spending part of your afternoon with us and for helping us build Bridges.

If you don’t already have your spot at the Tea reserved, I hope you’ll click here to do so! Tickets are just $40 per person and that supports women like Charlotte, Irene, and Samantha. Space is limited. A ticket to this event would make a great gift for Mother’s Day! Contact Janelle at our office and she can create a gift certificate for you if you would like to give the Afternoon Tea experience to a special person in your life!

Gift CertificateOn behalf of everyone here at Bridges of Hope, I hope to see you for Tea Time!

P.S. If you can’t make it to the Tea event but would still like to contribute to the work of Bridges of Hope, click on any of the images below from our Side by Side program to make a donation now, or email  jana@bridgesofhopemn.org to learn more about sponsorship opportunities for your business.

JUly 8 SbS 015Having a Spa Night Foot Massage

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Unplugging

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Have you ever just “unplugged” for a day, or even for a few hours? You know…put your phone away, turned off the TV, walked away from the computer…and just…lived in the present moment for awhile? Are you curious to know what might happen?

I was.

I like being connected to others…remotely…from my couch…via my phone.

I like always having something do turn to in case the slightest hint of boredom sets in.

I like looking like I have something REALLY important to read while I’m waiting for someone or something.

But I also know I’m not fooling anyone…myself included. I know that there is no substitute for being fully present–for removing all of the distractions and focusing on–and investing in–the people who are right in front of me.

So…I recently challenged myself and my coworkers from Bridges of Hope to spend some unplugged time with their families and friends over the course of an evening. Here’s what happened:

1. We did things we don’t usually do.
Some of us spent time doing needlecraft and sewing; some of us played board games; and some of us read or spent time in face-to-face conversations. We missed phone calls and text messages…but none so urgent they couldn’t be answered later.

2. We experienced time differently.
Some of us were really excited for the challenge…and others not so much. The evening seemed to fly by for some of us, and others of us marveled at how much more time they felt like they had. And a few of us honestly thought the time dragged a little. Some of our kids (or parents…or spouses…) complained at first…but most of them were eventually won over.

Vacation13. We played more.
Almost all of us played board games or card games. We colored–both with our kids and with other adults. We had spontaneous family jam sessions in the living room with improvised instruments.

4. We connected…IRL!
“I talked with my sister for an hour about her work and some of the challenges she’s been having. It was so nice to have a conversation without texts interrupting us!”
It was also our anniversary that evening, so we shared some of our memories with our kids.”
“If you do not make time to intentionally discuss the events and experiences in the daily lives of your family, you can miss out on so much.”

5. We thought about our priorities.
“It was eye opening to me to realize how many times I thought about using my phone.”
“I would like to do this more often–it’s a nice change.”
“I would like to have a monthly or weekly media-free time with our family that is longer and pre-planned, with family activities and outings.”
“We decided to have TV nights and non-TV nights in our family.”
“It made me think about what kind of example I’m setting for my kids, if I can’t put my phone down for a couple hours to play with them and really give them my full attention.”

And do you want to know what else? We discovered that it was really, really simple. There was no added expense, no hidden fees, no contract to sign…but it was likely the start of an important investment with the potential for big returns.keep-calm-and-go-offline-3

So what about you? Want to take the challenge too? Here are a few resources that might help (and yes, the irony is that all of these are online/media resources):

If you spend an evening (or more!) unplugged, let us know about your experience in the comments section!

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For more information about how our programming strengthens families, please visit our website.