It’s all about the kids…

Jonathon, Sam and Emily along with their parents Charlotte and Rob were homeless—or practically homeless. This family of five had just moved to our area and were living in a burned-out trailer with no heat. It was winter. Charlotte and Rob and their three beautiful children had taken to huddling together on the living room floor in order to stay warm at night. That’s when they found Bridges of Hope.

It occurred to me today, that all too often, we begin our Moments of Hope by talking about the parents and other adults we serve. In reality, we serve far more children each year than adults. Of course, children can only exist within the context of  a family and, in cases like Jonathon, Sam and Emily’s, can only thrive through YOUR generosity as a donor to Bridges of Hope.

The story continues...A Family Service Worker at Bridges of Hope helped the family locate an affordable apartment. As Jonathon, Sam, Emily and their parents prepared to move in, the landlord’s mother, inspired by the strength of these children, wanted to lend her help as well. She paid their entire deposit, and once the family was all moved in, she brought a Christmas tree for the family and gifts for the children, to welcome them to their new home.

As we prepare for fall and winter here at Bridges of Hope, we anticipate a significant increase in calls for assistance; about 45% of our annual work load will likely be distributed between now and the end of the year. With the rising cost of utility bills and high unemployment rates, the upcoming months are looking bleak for some Lakes Area children.

The good news? You can help! From 8 a.m. on Tuesday, September 28th until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 5th, the Otto Bremer Foundation is matching donations made to Bridges of Hope up to $6,000. Can you help us make a difference in the lives of more children like Jonathon, Sam and Emily? Click here to makes your 100% tax-deductible donation to Bridges of Hope during  the Bremer Give-to-the-Kids Challenge.

Once again, thank you for helping us build bridges!


‘Tis the Season…

In early November 2009, Nicole, a mother of two, called Bridges of Hope in tears because she knew she and her husband Tom would not be able to afford a Thanksgiving dinner for her family. Tom had been laid off a few months earlier and the family was just making it on Tom’s unemployment and Nicole’s part-time job–there was simply no extra money left over at the end of each month. Read more…

Sadly, there are so many families in our area that face tough times, especially during the holidays. I am happy to announce that Bridges of Hope will, for the second year in a row, act as the coordinating agency for the Thanksgiving Basket and Christmas Gift program to support families like Nicole and Tom. We are proud to partner with key organizations such as Crow Wing County Social Services, New Pathways, Salem WEST and Salvation Army as well as local  food shelves, churches, businesses and individuals. Our goals are to see that all families have a blessed holiday and to coordinate our efforts in a way that ensures our generous community resources are used wisely.

Are you looking for a way to connect with our community this holiday season? Could you organize a sponsor drive at your church or place of work? Maybe your family would like to sponsor another family this holiday season. To learn more, take a look at our website for information about the Thanksgiving Basket and Christmas Gift program. Thank you for helping us build bridges during the upcoming holiday season!

Nicole and Tom’s Moment

In early November, Nicole, a mother of two, called Bridges of Hope in tears because she knew she and her husband Tom would not be able to afford a Thanksgiving dinner for her family. Tom had been laid off a few months earlier and the family was just making it on Tom’s unemployment and Nicole’s part-time job–there was simply no extra money left over at the end of each month.

Thankfully, she had been referred to Bridges of Hope by a local food shelf, who knew that Bridges is the coordinator for our community’s unique Thanksgiving Baskets program. Churches, businesses and individuals sign up to sponsor a family’s meal for Thanksgiving, and families in need sign up to receive a Basket. Bridges of Hope matches the sponsors with families, sharing how many people are in the family and where they live, and the sponsor goes out to purchase items for a full Thanksgiving meal.
By the end of that same day, Nicole’s family was matched with a waiting sponsor, who assembled a Basket and delivered it to Nicole a couple days before Thanksgiving. Nicole and Tom were able to enjoy a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and stuffing–while still being able to continue to pay their ongoing household bills themselves.

Who knew?

This month, Bridges of Bridges of Hope LogoHope is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Common Goods. Yes, it’s already been a year since Common Goods opened its doors!

For those who wonder if a social venture can really provide financial support to a nonprofit, I am excited to announce that, after just one year, Bridges of Hope will utilize $40,000 of proceeds from Common Goods to continue and enhance services offered to families in the Lakes Area. Who knew?

Common Goods provides a clean, fun and colorful destination for the conscientious shopper to save a few bucks, scoop up some great merchandise and “go green” at the same time. Stop by sometime for inspiration on how to re-purpose that old coffee table or make use of Grandma’s leftover sewing patterns.

Donations of quality, gently used furniture, house wares, clothing and other items are welcome at Common Goods Monday – Saturday from 8:30-5:30. Items are sorted, cleaned and sold on our sales floor. Some items may be redistributed to one of our many partners thereby serving more families and keeping perfectly useful goods out of local landfills. Common Goods is providing so much more than just revenue for Bridges of Hope.

Who knew? Maybe our generous funders and the many partners who helped Common Goods get off the ground. We’re so grateful to the Brainerd Area Community Foundation, Crow Wing Power Community Trust, Initiative Foundation and Otto Bremer Foundation for the start-up funding for Common Goods. There are too many friends and supporters to name; you know who you are!

Thank you for your support in this “new” adventure that I guess we can’t really call “new” anymore. Happy Anniversary Common Goods!

Wally and Cindy’s Moment

Wally and Cindy have been raising their three grandchildren since the day each of them was born. Wally contacted Bridges (BoH) about five months after losing his job, just after Cindy had also been laid off. Wally had been trying hard to make things work on his own, working a few odd jobs and at temp agencies, but the couple was already four months behind on their mortgage.

A Family Service Worker at BoH assisted the couple in applying for county assistance and unemployment, so they would be able to care for their grandchildren. They were approved for both, a great relief for Wally.

To resolve their mortgage crisis, the BoH staff contacted the president of the local bank where the couple had their mortgage, to work out a payment plan that was a “win” for all parties. Since the only way to make the payments work would be to reduce the total amount they owed, Wally and Cindy made a larger initial payment and BoH matched it with its Spirit of Hope funds, so that the bank was able to agree to a payment plan for the rest of the money owed.

A few weeks later, we followed up with Wally, who reported that things were going much better, and he finally felt like he and his family were getting back on their feet.

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Welcome to Bridges of Hope’s blog.

Bridges of Hope is a 501c3 faith-based nonprofit organization, founded in 2002. We serve Crow Wing County and the surrounding communities in central Minnesota.

More inforation about our services can be found at our website: