Spring Cleaning (and Giving)

A combination of the recent stretch of unseasonably warm weather combined with recent weight loss trigged my inner spring cleaner a couple weeks ago. It was a Saturday afternoon when I hit my closet hard and was determined to downsize and donate.

Of course, whenever I’m ready to part with treasures; they go to Common Goods. Not only do I love the concept behind the thrift store, I also love knowing that my excess could be of benefit to someone with less.Common Goods logo

So I decided to reach out Danell Eggert and Andrea Martin, Retail Managers of the Common Goods locations in Baxter and Crosslake (respectively) for tips and tricks to spring simplification.

Both ladies agreed: changing seasons result in an increase in donations. As weather gets warmer, people begin cleaning out closets and storage areas looking to declutter.

“I think it’s easy to overload our lives with stuff,” Danell said. “I find myself getting antsy when I have too much stuff around the house, and clearing out always feels better. When I go through my things I do separate out things that can’t be re-used and throw it or label it to be recycled.”

And by donating to Common Goods, it’s a win-win for you and for the community!

“By donating items to Common Goods you are directly impacting families in our local community who are being served by Bridges of Hope,” Andrea said. “Common Goods also has a major impact on the number of products leaving our area or entering our landfills. In addition to selling items in our stores, we also work hard to recycle and redistribute goods within our community.  Local donations stay local, and proceeds serve local families in need through Bridges of Hope.”

Furniture tends to be the most requested item from Common Goods customers. Dressers and bookshelves are most popular; and unique or high-end pieces are the easiest to sell.

Andrea said unique items including antiques, old books and one-of-a-kind pottery are also in demand and are top sellers.

“These are the things that people love finding in our store,” she said. “We recently sold three wood block prints in which the artist, in 1938, painted Mt Fuji from different angles. There were 36 prints in all, and it was just beautiful to see the differences in scenery and seasons as he traveled around the mountain. The prints sold within 30 minutes of us putting them on the sales floor!

We also had some rare primitive long spoons from the late 1800s that were once used for soap making and two beautiful hand blown glass bowls that were shaped like swans. Interesting items come into the store all the time, and the examples I just gave were donated–and sold–in just the last week!”

Even if you don’t have antiques and sought-after collectibles, Common Goods certainly has a need for more ‘common’ items. As families being to think spring and summer, Common Goods is eager to receive fun and bright sun dresses, shorts, life jackets, bicycles and more.

A lot of people are headed off to spring break and need swimsuits and other warm weather apparel,” Andrea noted. “It’s time to put away the boots and get out the fun strappy sandals. Water skis, wake boards, golf stuff, roller blades, sporting equipment.… If you’ve got it, we want it!”

We are so thankful for all of our donors, as everything we sell has been generously donated,” Danell added. “That is one thing I have really worked to get across is how grateful we are and that our donors’ generosity helps so many people in our communities.

Over this past year I’ve really been able to see so much good. Good in people. Volunteers. Customers. Donors. Our team. Every single person coming together really makes this place great and in turn helps so many! We get a lot of people who say this is their happy place…and that makes me happy!”

Inspired and ready to declutter? Andrea advises spring cleaners to take it a little at a time.

“Keep it simple. Start small,” she said. “Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you have to clean out your whole house from top to bottom. Make it a goal to tackle different problem areas one at a time, and be specific: ‘Tuesday, I’ll clean out the junk drawer.’ Have a donation box ready to go and add to it whenever you find items you no longer have a use for. When the box is full, DONATE! By making small regular donations it becomes a part of your lifestyle and you are less likely to find yourself cluttered in the future.”

“Stuff is just stuff,” Danell agreed. “If you have more than you need, then I say pass it on and help make a difference. That’s truly the bottom line as to why we are here… to make a difference.”

Note: When selecting items to donate, please be mindful of what can be sold versus what should be thrown, including items with stains and/or holes. If you have questions regarding making donations to Common Goods, visit www.commongoodsmn.org or call the Baxter store at 218.824.0923 or the Crosslake store at 218.692.7682.

2016 in Pictures

Here are just a few shots from 2016, highlighting the enormous person-power that is involved in making Bridges of Hope and Common Goods “happen.” We are so thankful to our shoppers, donors, volunteers, staff, and board for the ways you contribute to this amazing organization.

Thank you for building Bridges.

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Diane’s Moment of Hope

[Note: Diane graciously allowed us to use her real name and details. Diane: thank you for your courage and generosity!]

It has been 27 years since Diane made the life-changing decision to become, and remain, clean and sober. However, despite overcoming this huge obstacle, she continued to fight demons and encounter issues that tested her faith over all those years.

Having been raised in the Aitkin area, Diane relocated to the Twin Cities area where she tackled her addictions with the help of a mentor. She was also able to get the help that enabled her to return to school and accept a job working for a non-profit food bank.

In 2000, Diane returned to her childhood home to care for her aging mother, as well as help raise her grandsons. During that time, Diane struggled with depression that worsened with each new year. Jobs also came and went over the years, adding insult to injury.

In 2016, Diane’s daughter was being released from prison and needed a ride back home. However, Diane’s car was in dire need of repairs and she couldn’t afford the insurance to legally get back on the road. Diane also acknowledged that her daughter would need clothes that fit since she was coming home to, literally, nothing.engine-repair-rebuild

It was at that point Diane reached out to Bridges of Hope and connected with Resource Specialist Nicholle Dean.

“I took a leap of faith with Bridges of Hope,” she said. “I called for my daughter’s sake; but, while talking to Nicholle, I ended up breaking down. I’m not typically prideful. But is there pride in not asking for help? I learned that when you truly need help, you just need to swallow that pride. And it was very hard. But I can’t express enough how much Nicholle took me in and told me what I needed to do to help myself and allow them to help me. She held me accountable.”

Nicholle said after she and Diane talked, she was able to connect her to a variety of resources available for her particular situation, including securing additional funding from St James Church in Aitkin and Pine Lake United Methodist Church. Together, Nicholle and Diane also worked through budgeting and sustainability planning for the future.

Because of the help of Bridges of Hope and others, Diane was able to safely pick up her daughter and now has car insurance in place.

“Swallow that pride,” Diane encourages others who need help. “You know, ask the questions you need. But be okay with ‘no.’ Not everybody can help you or answer your questions, but somebody, somewhere along the way, can and will. They will find the resources you need. I never thought I would be able to get the repairs and insurance. So this was a big relief off my shoulders. Keep an open mind. I am so grateful. There’s always help and hope. God will provide.”


If you or someone you know is in need of assistance working through a tough life situation, please call our office and speak with one of our staff members about it: 218.825.7682.

Nichole’s Moment

A survivor of domestic violence, Nichole describes her experience working with Bridges of Hope over the course of a few years, and particularly in the Side by Side mentoring program.

Today, Nichole works for Wadena County Human Services. Her hope is that more education and awareness about domestic violence and its effects will be shared throughout our community.


During our Fall Campaign, Bridges of Hope is seeking to raise $60,000 from the community to help us serve over 300 households by December 31. Thanks to our generous past supporters, Bridges was there for Nichole when she needed additional support for herself and her family. Will you help make a difference for someone just like Nichole this year?

Click here to make a gift today. And thank you – you are truly the reason we are able to extend hope to others.

A special thanks to Justin DeZurik, who created this video.

Andrea’s Moment

 

Andrea shares her experience working with Bridges of Hope ~6 years ago, when she was a newly single mom with two young children.

Today, Andrea is helping spread hope to others at our Common Goods thrift store in Crosslake!


During our Fall Campaign, Bridges of Hope is seeking to raise $60,000 from the community to help us serve over 300 households by December 31. Thanks to our generous past supporters, Bridges was there for Andrea when she needed to turn to someone for help. Will you help make a difference for someone just like Andrea this year?

Click here to make a gift today. And thank you – you are truly the reason we are able to extend hope to others.

A special thanks to Justin DeZurik, who created this video.

Patty Sue’s Story

Since joining the Side by Side program two years ago, Patty Sue is the first to admit that her life has changed for the better. Patty Sue initially heard about the Side by Side program at Bridges of Hope while receiving Respite care services for her family. A stay-at-home mom of five children, ages one through eight, Patty Sue had seen her share of hardships and hard times that made life a constant struggle.

“I was at a point in my life where I could really use it,” Patty Sue said of the outside interaction. “I had a lot of negative things in my life and really needed something positive to look forward to.”

Patty Sue had been a victim of domestic abuse and homelessness for many years. In her life, positive relationships were few and far between. “I’m the type of person who isolates herself,” Patty Sue admitted. “I would isolate myself in my house, and I knew I needed to get out; but I wasn’t sure I wanted to. So when they asked me to join Side By Side, I knew it would be a good thing for me.”

Coordinators and volunteers with the Side by Side program say they’ve witnessed tremendous growth in Patty Sue since joining the program: “She truly has become so much more of a vibrant and happy person,” one individual noted. “I know she doesn’t necessarily recognize that, but she has overcome so many obstacles and hurdles with her personal growth and mental health. It’s been pretty amazing.”

Now in her second year as a Side by Side participant, Patty Sue said she is seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. She has also created friendships and support outside of the Side by Side meetings through other program Participants.

“Having positive experiences with the other women was something I needed,” she said. “I agreed to it because you can never have too much positive in your life. It helps me get out of the house more often and visit with others who can lift you up. If I’m having a bad day, I go there and feel so much better.”

The Side by Side program is more than Mentors reaching out to Participants; it’s also about Participants finding common ground and support with each other, as well as positive interactions and words of encouragement at, oftentimes, bleak moments.

“Life throws a lot of things at you,” Patty Sue said, “and some people, like myself, don’t always manage well in reaching out. But Side By Side has helped me in so many ways.”A Mentor Walks Alongside You Quote

If you are interested in helping a woman change herself for the better, contact Kassie at Bridges of Hope for more information on becoming a Mentor.

Supporting Family and Caregivers: Respite Services

As a single mother of three children under the age of three and with another on the way, Kristine needed help. Her time for self-care and just taking care of the basics like cleaning the house or shopping for groceries was non-existent. Something had to give.
Respite Picture

It was just a few months ago when Kristine was referred to Bridges of Hope. Funded by Crow Wing County Community Services, Bridges of Hope has an established Respite care program to help parents like Kristine who need someone to step in and help care for their children on a temporary basis.

At Bridges, Respite is a scheduled, monthly break for families based upon a child’s or parent’s need, serving families in Crow Wing County. On occasion, Respite can be scheduled more often, on a case-by-case basis. Respite care providers are licensed by Crow Wing County and step in to care for a child or children for up to 24 hours. That child is then returned home after the Respite “placement,” unlike a foster care situation. The goal of the program, at its core, is to provide caregivers a break to rejuvenate, refresh and get self-care.

As many as 95% of children receiving Respite care through Bridges have mental health concerns or diagnoses. Right now, ~40 households are utilizing Respite for their children and have anywhere between one and six children in the house. Of those cases, approximately 15%-20% of these households are also simultaneously working with Child Protection in some capacity.

Bridges of Hope currently works with 13 licensed providers living in Brainerd, Crosby and Nisswa – ranging from day care settings to individuals – to provide Respite care. Families can also self-identify an outside person to serve as their Respite provider, as long as they complete and pass the necessary background check.

One respite care provider has a farm and offers fun and new opportunities for children. Another provider brings children in his temporary care to church on Sundays. And another participates in building workshops at Home Depot.

“Our providers are very much involved with these families and they treat them like they would their own family,” a Bridges of Hope staffer noted. “They can also provide the children with experiences they might not have in their home setting, due to their parents’ work schedules or their siblings’ needs.”

After Kristine’s children started receiving Respite care, she finally found time she could carve out for cleaning and organizing her home. During that time, she was also able to spend one-on-one time with her new baby after its birth. The Respite program has allowed her to take better care of herself; and in turn, has helped her to become a better mom.

For more information on Respite, contact Bridges of Hope at (218) 825-7682 or visit our website.