Run for Hope – A Success!


What a fun day!

Last Saturday, we partnered with the Journey North Community Church (TJN) to host the first-ever Run for Hope. It was a huge success! More than 140 people registered to walk or run and many others came to cheer us on. I was one of those 140 registered “runners.”

Flashback with me a few months ago. There was snow on the ground. It was cold. I was in an exercise slump that I am sure none of you can relate to (wink, wink). I received a call from Sheila at TJN saying, “We’d like to host a 5k as a part of our Wellness Initiative and we’d like to have the event benefit Bridges! How does that sound?”

“Great!” I said and agreed to attend a meeting the next week with her & Pastor Mark. They had all kinds of ideas already in progress and I was very excited. Pastor Mark said, “We need you to do something.”

Okay, I thought, they’ll need some help promoting the event & some volunteers at the event. No problem.

“We’d like you and some of your staff members to run in the event” said Pastor Mark.

“WHAT?? I am NOT a runner. How am I going to get out of this?” – – – – is what I was thinking.

What I SAID was, “Sure. I’ve been wanting to start running & this will be a good goal for me.” GULP!

Weeks passed & plans began shaping up for the Run for Hope. What did not begin shaping up was ME. Exactly one month before the event, I realized I really had to start “running.”


Thanks for all your hard work, Sheila!

I downloaded a running app on my iphone, put on some sweats, tennis shoes & a sweatshirt (remember May…when it was STILL really cold?!) and I went for my first “run.” Yep, I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 90 seconds, walked for three minutes, ran again for 90 seconds, etc. I thought I was going to fall over! It was so hard! Remember, I was NOT a runner (at this point).

Well, I stuck with it and ran/walked every other day for a month. A few of us on our staff & board swapped training stories and it was starting to feel fun. The runs were really hard some days & went well on other days.

The big race day came & I wasn’t quite through with my training, but I managed to run the first mile-and-a-half (trailing my 9-year-old daughter & almost everyone else the whole way, mind you!). I took a little walking break & then ran some more. Low & behold, I finished the Run for Hope in just under 40 minutes which was my goal. Hooray!

At the finish line, I celebrated with so many people who, just like me, had just finished their first 5k and with some people who had done this before.The energy at the event was amazing. I was so inspired by all the participants who spanned a variety of ages, ability, fitness levels & anxiety levels! We were cheered on by spectators, family, friends & volunteers. It was a very powerful experience — I felt like a “runner!”

At Bridges of Hope, we cheer people on every day to make adjustment or changes in their lives to improve their well-being. We are so thankful to TJN for hosting this great event to challenge us, to support us & to raise awareness about the work we do. To all of you who helped with the planing or on race day and to all of you who ran, walked, or cheered us on: THANK YOU!


We really did have runners, walkers & crawlers (in their strollers, anyway!)


I made it to the finish line!



James & Molly’s Moment

cancerribbonsMolly called Bridges of Hope earlier this year, in tears. She has just given birth the week before to her third precious child and explained that her husband, James, had been diagnosed with cancer early in her pregnancy. James was about to start his second round of chemo and they knew from experience this would leave him unable to work for a number of weeks, at least.

Molly would be going back to her job after her maternity leave but she and James were worried about how they would pay the mortgage and still provide for their three beautiful children in the meantime. James’ time off from work during the first round of chemo had depleted the family’s savings.

Erica, a Resource Specialist at Bridges of Hope, got to work right away suggesting two helpful resources. She helped Molly fill out applications for two programs: Cradle of Hope and Pay It Forward. Cradle of Hope is a Twin Cities-based agency that assists pregnant mothers or parents of children up to 3 months old when the pregnancy or birth is causing a crisis. Pay It Forward is a fund through the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation that can financially assist those who are currently going through chemotherapy.

Molly & James didn’t have to wait long to find out that each organization approved one month of mortgage assistance for their family which would help stretch their budget until Molly was back to work.

Molly called Erica when she received the news and said, “Thank you Erica! We are so relieved to know that we can provide for Sammy, John, and Lexi while James is getting healthy.”

We feel so blessed when we hear back from families and things are getting better! We talk to families like Molly & James’ every day. As a single-point-of-entry in the community, Bridges is able to connect families with the help they need quickly & efficiently. We work closely with area churches, other nonprofit organizations & the community as a whole to increase effectiveness and decrease duplication.

If you or anyone you know can benefit from Bridges of Hope’s services, please call us at 218-825-7682. Thank you for helping us build Bridges.

Stay connected with us on Facebook & the web.

Fred-Mark Golf Tournament Raises $15,000

It was a chilly day for golf but the warmth for Bridges of Hope was more than present from the 200+ golfers at the 22nd Annual Fred-Mark Charity Golf Tournament. Our staff & board members had the opportunity to greet golfers in the morning & serve them lunch in the afternoon. We also hosted a Closest to the Pin contest & a Silent Auction at dinner.lunchlunch tent staff

Sponsorships totaled nearly $10,000 and the golfers’ participation in the events of the day brought in another $5,000 for Bridges of Hope’s work with families in the Lakes Area.

This brings the 8-year grandbat winner & Jana total of funds raised at the Fred-Mark to over $80,000! Wow!

A great day was had by all and we are, again, so appreciative to Grand View Lodge for including us in this class act tournament! If you haven’t made your summer vacation or “stay-cation” plans yet, we highly recommend Grand View Lodge!

If you’re not a golfer, and running or walking is more your style, sign up for the Run for Hope which will take place next Saturday, June 15th in partnership with  Journey North Community Church.Run Logo

There are so many ways YOU help us build Bridges. Thank you!

Stay connected with Bridges of Hope…

Make a tax-deductible donation today.

Visit our website

Find us on Facebook.

Jane & Sharon: Walking Side by Side

Our Side by Side Mentor Program is working to break down barriers and debunk stereotypes about poverty by building social capital in women.

“What exactly IS social capital,”  you ask?

friendsWell, Oxford says it’s a noun meaning “the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.” says it’s a noun meaning “the network of social connection that exist between people, and their shared values and norms of behavior, which enable and encourage mutually advantageous social cooperation.”

So, it’s pretty much agreed that “social capital” is all about networking, social connections, relationships, etc.

Ever since Side by Side kicked off last fall, we have been fostering these networks and connections among ten women: three are “Mentees,” and seven are women from the community (“Mentors”). We have watched these relationships flourish and produce many positive outcomes in less than a year.

One great example of how the Mentor/Mentee relationship is moving women from a place of day-to-day survival to sustainability is Jane’s story:

Jane is a single working mother trying her best to balance her family, work and college. She had the skills needed to navigate everyday life but was missing one important thing: a strong support network. Jane joined Side by Side as a Mentee in November 2012, and for the past seven months she has been actively involved with the program: attending monthly group activities, meeting with a Bridges of Hope case manager and connecting with her three individual Mentors on a weekly basis. These Mentors have been available for Jane to talk through stressful situations, take a break for a cup of coffee, and even bring over meals while she was studying for final exams.

With both the support of her Mentors and her own strong determination, Jane has been able to maintain stable housing for her children, start a new job, and successfully complete another semester of college.

It’s amazing what being in “Side by Side” relationships with others can do!

The Side by Side program is currently launching its second cohort (Summer 2013) with a new group of Mentors & Mentees. If you are interested in supporting this important program, here’s what you can do:

If you or someone you know is interested in being a Mentee, or if you just want more information about Side by Side, call 218.825.7682 and talk with Carly.

Something for Everyone

Ever wonder where you could buy a nearly-life-sized Orangutan Puppet? What about a Snowman Pinata? A bench made from a sleigh bed?  A purse made from an old children’s book? A telescope?

If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s Common Goods! That’s right–all of these things have been for sale at Common Goods at some point in time (maybe even right now!).

Purse from Children's Book

When we say the merchandise changes every day, we really mean that–because our inventory completely depends on what we receive in donations: high-quality, gently-used housewares, clothing, and furniture from the public–from YOU. Common Goods is a community-based thrift store–and YOU make the community part happen in a big way! We are so grateful for your generosity.

Boy with Organutan

Common Goods will be celebrating its fourth anniversary this fall–four years of wonderful donations from hundreds of local donors, four years upcycling and creative re-purposing, four years of loyal shoppers, and hundreds and hundreds of hours from dedicated volunteers.

The profits at Common Goods go back to supporting the work of Bridges of Hope: helping families and individuals with whatever challenge has gotten between them and their family’s safety, stability, and success. In the last four years, that means YOU have helped make a difference in the lives of literally thousands of households here in the Lakes Area.

Sleigh Bed Bench

We have YOU to thank for so much of our success over these last four years, and we hope to continue serving families in need, the community as whole, and YOU even better in our next four years.


Through the summer (Memorial Day – Labor Day), Common Goods is open 11-5 on Sundays, in addition to our regular hours: Monday through Saturday, 10-6!

Learn more about Common Goods here.