Entertaining Angels

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby, some have entertained angels unawares.”—Hebrews 13: 1 & 2 

From Bridges’ inception, the strong link to local churches has been a central part of our design. Even the original concept of Bridges of Hope started in a church that saw both the wide array of resources and the vast needs of families within the community–and wanted to design a system that could better bridge the gap between the two. As a faith-based organization, Bridges of Hope is fortunate–and blessed–to have the support of many of our local area churches.

And now, ten years later, in addition to many other services we provide, Bridges of Hope continues to play a key role in connecting those in need to the resources that can best serve them–and a key role in acting as the resource “specialists” for area churches to refer someone to when they come to a church for help. In fact, last year, gifts from churches made up almost 30% of our donations! Churches were also the third-largest group of referrers to Bridges of Hope in 2011.

Occasionally, we will partner financially with a church to help a family in need, and typically these partnerships occur when they are members of church who need help beyond what the church can provide, like in Lisa’s case:

Lisa contacted Bridges of Hope inquiring about resources for help with an electric bill. She is a single mom of two children; an eight-year-old and five-year-old. For the past three years, Lisa has owned and managed her own business. For the last three months, Lisa’s business had not been turning a profit, so she stopped drawing a personal paycheck and had been getting by in the short-term with child support, food support, and savings. Lisa had managed to keep up with her bills, but when gophers chewed through her wiring and cut power to her house, she knew that she simply couldn’t afford the rewiring, which would cost nearly $1,500 to repair.

Lisa was referred to Bridges of Hope by her church, after she had expressed concern about her inability to pay this bill during a weekly prayer group. During her conversation with a Bridges staff, Lisa indicated that (amazingly) she had been able to budget tightly and set aside a small portion of money to go towards the bill. Bridges of Hope was able to partner with Lisa’s church and utilize its internal funding in order to cover the remaining cost of the rewiring.

An Electrical Contractor was able to fix the wiring and power was restored to the home very quickly, and during a follow-up phone call, Lisa said she was very grateful for the help from Bridges of Hope. She explained that without it she didn’t know what she would have done.

Esther Reagan, Pastoral Associate, when asked why Brainerd Area Catholic Churches has been providing financial support to Bridges of Hope for over five years, said:
“Your [organization] is serving many of the people of our community who do not meet the criteria for other services and [we support you] because of your coordination across several social service agencies, thus reducing duplication of service….We are grateful for the services you provide. It is an asset to the community.”

We feel privileged to serve this community and to be thought of as an asset for churches. We consider it one of our essential roles to help protect and steward our church resources, using them responsibly in order to help as many in need as possible. We also know that in the process, we may be “entertaining angels” unawares.

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How to connect with Bridges of Hope at your church:

  • Join our “Faithful Friends” group to act as a key link between your congregation and Bridges of Hope. Email Jana to learn more.
  • Refer someone in need to Bridges of Hope.
  • Invite Bridges to share about our services during your weekend service, coffee hour, an adult forum, youth group, or other group–or contact us to learn more about how we can be a partner with your church.
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Bridges Named an All Star for a Second Year

2011 All Star LogoWe’re honored to report that Bridges of Hope has received the 2011 All Star Award from Constant Contact®, Inc.,–for our second straight year! Each year, a select group of Constant Contact users are honored with the All Star Award for their exemplary marketing results. Bridges of Hope’s results ranked among the top 10% of Constant Contact’s customer base. 

What that means is that YOU put us there! We can utilize Constant Contact as a communication tool, but if you don’t read our eNewsletters, invitations, and other alerts, then we aren’t really communicating with you. So thank you. You are the only reason we received this award; some of the criteria included…

  • Consistently high open rates (greater than 25%), click through rates, and low bounce rates;
  • Regular contact with your audience;
  • Using tools like Join My Mailing List, either on your website or Facebook (by the way, you can sign up to receive our eNewsletter on our website);
  • High click-through rates; and
  • Use of social features.

It’s so important for us to be able to share with you–our donors, funders, volunteers, customers, local churches, key partner agencies, and community members–about how your partnership and support is helping us change lives, and Constant Contact acts as a key piece of our overall communications, allowing us to do just that.

Once again, thank you for engaging with us. It’s your participation in the work of Bridges of Hope that makes all the difference.

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Here’s how you can continue to be involved:

Visit our website–and sign up to receive our eNewsletter.

“Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Learn more about our work with individuals and families.

The Heart of the Beast

Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy.  You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.  ~Author Unknown

Common Goods has been around for just over two years now. We regularly count the many ways we have been blessed, particularly with volunteers. Volunteers help us steam clothing; clean the store and straighten racks; paint, mend and repair; build shelving and displays; and help us pick up large items from donors…just to name a few of their valuable services. Last year 250+ volunteers gave over 1,800 hours of their time and talents to continue making Common Goods the great place that it is.

Bill volunteering at Common GoodsBill Brekken is just such one of these God-sends. Bill was one of the Bridges of Hope Board Members who was involved with Common Goods from the very beginning–acting as a key player in the store’s start-up; and now, as a frequent volunteer, he continues to be involved on a regular basis. Bill often comes in on Saturday mornings to help with furniture donation pick-up (a deeply appreciated volunteer service), and if no pick-up is scheduled for the day, Bill might still drop by for some Saturday morning coffee and catch-up with the staff.

Bill has also appointed himself to be one of our biggest “cheerleaders,” telling nearly everyone he meets about Common Goods and Bridges of Hope; it is clear that Bill believes deeply that our work is making our community a better place to live.

My (teenage) son Nick recently accompanied Bill on one of his weekend furniture pick-ups. After spending the better part of the afternoon together, as Nick shook Bill’s hand goodbye, he commented, “Dude, you’re a Beast!”–which, to translate from the teenage vernacular, is the highest possible compliment my son can pay.

And if Bill is in fact a Beast, he is certainly one who has a tremendous heart. Thanks, Bill.

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Get Involved at Common Goods:

  • Have a truck? Have muscle? Have both? Join the Common Goods “On-Call” list to help with things like furniture pick-up and moving…OR call (218.824.0923) or email Suzanne to learn more and set up a time to volunteer–flexible hours are available!