Michael and Susan’s Moment

Three-Year-Old Girl

Photo by Neree Jackson | Studio You

Susan contacted Bridges of Hope asking for help with a Security System for her home. Susan and her husband Michael have two grown children and recently adopted their two grandchildren, Olivia and Madison, ages 3 and 1. Olivia, at age 3, had already been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a behavioral disorder, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome–a trio of hefty diagnoses for such a little girl.

Susan explained that Olivia has trouble comprehending danger and she has even tried to leave their home at night. Susan and Michael were concerned that Olivia would eventually be successful in getting out at night and would wander off into the street. Susan had tried locking the door with a deadbolt, but Olivia was able to reach the lock. Susan was already seeking supportive services for Olivia’s mental health, but she was also very concerned for her granddaughter’s safety.

Convinced that a security system with an audible alarm would be the only way to keep Olivia safe, Michael got an estimate. The couple looked at their budget and decided they would be able to afford the monthly maintenance fees, but the instillation cost was just too much for them, especially after recently adopting two children. Since the total cost was also too much for Bridges of Hope on its own, a Family Service Worker helped Susan brainstorm several resources that might be able to help her. Susan explained that she had already contacted her own church and a local service club, and between them they would be able to assist with about a third of the cost. The Bridges staff then directed Susan to also contact a local Family Center, who agreed to assist with another third of the cost. Bridges of Hope was able to utilize its own internal funding for the balance of the installation cost of the security system, and it was installed the following week.

The owner of the security company commented that he was truly touched by the outpouring of support for this family, staying he had never had a firsthand encounter like it before. About a week later, the Bridges staff received a note from Susan and Michael, thanking Bridges of Hope for helping them keep Olivia safe—and for helping them all sleep better at night.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the care or safety of a preschooler, contact Bridges of Hope for assistance.

Not in the Spotlight but a Rockstar Nonetheless

One of our positively stellar volunteers–someone who inspires you to want to write about them–clearly doesn’t do it for the notoriety. She’s definitely an “out of the spotlight” kind of person who I’m sure would never agree to being made a fuss over via blog post. So instead of asking her permission (just her forgiveness maybe), I’ve opted to share her story without sharing her identity. Some of you who know Common Goods well enough and cannot possibly be fooled will notice that I’ve taken more than a few liberties with some of the details, but the essence of this story is absolutely true….

It all started in 2009 when Common Goods was just getting up and running. Our volunteer (we’ll call her Mary) and her husband Don, both having recently retired, moved into the Lakes area from St. Paul. Mary, an avid golfer, had first been introduced to Bridges of Hope through our spring fundraiser–a golf tournament hosted by Grand View Lodge. She was inspired, hearing stories of families touched by Bridges, and made a point to introduce herself to the staff, asking about how she could become involved with the organization. Mary was delighted to learn about the plans to launch Common Goods, and throughout the summer she stayed in touch with the staff at Bridges of Hope about the progress of the store. In August, just prior to opening, Mary and Don stopped in at Common Goods to donate several boxes of clothing and housewares. Don joked with the staff about how glad he was to not be needing any of those ties or button-down shirts anymore.

Common Goods opened in September 2009, and the following week Mary signed on for her very first volunteer shift. And then she signed up to volunteer again the next week. And the one after that. And the one after that. And she soon became known as our Wednesday Morning Rockstar, with her own set of weekly tasks and projects.

Now, 100 weeks into the history of Common Goods, Mary has logged a total of 90 shifts–meaning she has been volunteering at the store for nearly every week of its existence! Don also comes in with Mary about once a month, helping with some of the light carpentry and repair projects around Common Goods. Together, the couple has given a (still increasing) total of over 350 hours at the store–Rockstar caliber indeed!

But that’s not really Mary at all.  She doesn’t like to have the spotlight shone on her as the center of attention; she doesn’t even want her picture taken when she’s volunteering at Common Goods. Don’t misunderstand: it’s not that Mary is quiet or shy–she just likes to come in, one morning each week, and do her thing–which is volunteering. Recently we were able to wrestle out of Mary why she has chosen to come in week after week: she said that she just likes being engaged with a nonprofit in a tangible way and enjoys the fun and friendly atmosphere at Common Goods.

A seemingly ordinary, simple answer, perhaps; but every week, in her very ordinary, simple way, Mary continues to make an extraordinary impact for families in the Lakes Area. And that is worth shining the spotlight on, if even for just a moment.

So thanks, Mary and Don. We would definitely be a different organization today without your hard work and dedication.

Interested in volunteering at Common Goods–and maybe even getting the chance to meet the now-famous “Mary”? Visit our website for details on how you can be involved.