New Program Puts Participants “Side by Side”

Last fall, Bridges of Hope launched its newest program, called Side by Side, which is a mentoring program for women.

We began recruiting our 7 Mentors and  3 Mentees in the late summer of 2012.  Since then, this group has met about 9 times, and in that short time, each of the Mentees have begun developing true supportive friendships with one or more of the Mentors. In addition to monthly group meetings, each Mentee is able to connect with her Mentor(s) each week by getting together for coffee, lunch, or chatting on the phone/email.

One of the Mentees recently commented about the program, saying, “I finally feel like I belong to my community and have friends that really care about me.” This Mentee has worked hard to meet some of her goals in the past 6 months, thanks in part to the support of  her two Mentors and the Bridges of Hope case manager: she has increased her work hours, finished another semester of college with a 3.0 GPA, and has even learned some new cooking skills!

After each group meeting, as our closing activity, we ask each person for a “one word description”  to sum up the night. Here are some of the words used to describe the program so far:

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This program is all about relationships, and in addition to educational/skill-building group meetings such as a Family Law clinic; some of the activities the group has done together include baking over 50 dozen Christmas cookies, having a Spa Night, and a Game Night.

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Cookies galore!

Having a Spa Night Foot Massage

Having a Spa Night Foot Massage

The program is to help women living in poverty or facing other challenging life situations develop a network that will support them to stabilize their life and realize their full potential. The Side by Side program aims to create relationships between volunteer Mentors and Mentees and was designed to assist women who have the desire and potential to set and reach new life goals while working with a Mentor who will support them in their journey. The relationship is Mentee-driven, with goal-setting in three areas: Income Stability, Skills & Education, and Relationships & Meaning.

Does that sound intriguing to you? Then I have great news! Beginning now (and through June 2013), we are looking for 6-8 new volunteer Mentors to begin “walking side by side” with a Mentee. If you are interested in learning more about what being a Mentor is all about, please contact me: michele@bridgesofhopemn.org (or call 218.825.7682).

You can also check out the Mentor Job Description and Application on our website, and learn more about the program here.

Time to Dust Off Those Running Shoes!

Spring is finally here, really, it IS! The sun is shining and soon the snow will melt & be replaced with green grass! We’ll all be motivated to get outside and get moving whether it be in the garden, at a park, going for a walk or maybe even a RUN!

Speaking shoesof going for a run, I am excited to announce that the first ever RUN FOR HOPE 5k/10k is scheduled for Saturday, June 15th and you can register now for this awesome event which is being sponsored by The Journey North Community Church to raise money in a fun and healthy way for Bridges of Hope.

Everyone is welcome to participate in this event so spread the word!

Your $20 registration fee includes a great looking t-shirt and a goodie bag! Runners & walkers are invited to help raise money for Bridges of Hope. Prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers.

Click here for more information or to register for the RUN FOR HOPE!

Happy Spring!

Volunteers Make a Difference at Common Goods

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Washing Windows!

At Common Goods, we are thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who help out every year! Volunteers help us get extra projects done (see photos below), keep the store clean & neat and also raise awareness and bring donations in to Common Goods. Many of our volunteers are local youth who are excited to make a difference in this community. In the last few months, we have had the privilege of serving alongside awesome students from Pillager and Pequot Lakes Schools as well some some of our youth volunteers who are “regulars.”

Pillager 9th grade and Pequot Lakes 8th grade students are encouraged to volunteer in the community as a part of their curriculum. Also, the community-minded Pillager High School National Honor Society students and their adviser, Sue Turner, recently completed their spring community service project for Common Goods.  They called us to do some research about what kinds of donations are helpful and then created flyers for a school-wide donation collection. Next, they collected, sorted & delivered donations to Common Goods. They even rewarded their peers who donated – with root beer floats!

All of these students and the adults who support them are very involved in our community and at their schools. This service-oriented attitude will carry them far beyond their high school years.  We applaud the generosity and community-minded outlook of these students and the dedication of the caring adults who work with them. By working together, we strengthen our community and raise our children to reach out and serve.  Well done Pequot Lakes and Pillager Schools!

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Common Goods, call Suzanne at (218)824-0923.

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A Creative Project

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The final product!

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Steaming clothes

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Straightening up the Sales Floor