The Top Seven Reasons Why You Should Make a Gift this Fall

Bridges of Hope is in the midst of our Fall Fundraising Campaign, and this year we need your support to help us reach our goal of raising $80,000 by year-end. Your partnership with Bridges of Hope ensures that your friends, neighbors, and family members are able to get the help they need during a difficult time, and when you make a gift to Bridges, YOU GIVE THE POWER 2 HOPE to nearly 3,000 households in the Lakes Area every year!

Boy With SignYou may be asking yourself why your gift matters–and I’m so glad you did, because here are the top seven reasons why you should make a gift to Bridges of Hope this fall:

  1. It’s 100% tax-deductible. Sure, your support truly helps Bridges, but it can also serve as an added bonus for YOU during tax-time!
  2. If you’ve never made a gift to Bridges before, you’ll join a support network of over 2,500 individuals, businesses, churches, service clubs, and others who make a difference for individuals and families in our community. If you have made a gift in the past, you are already PART of that amazing support network.
  3. Your donation stays local. Bridges of Hope serves anyone who reaches out to us in all of Crow Wing County and the bordering communities like Pine River, Pillager, Motley, and Staples. Last year that was nearly 3,000 households, or about 8,500 people!
  4. Your gift goes to work immediately. We are currently in the midst of our $80,000 Fall Fundraising Campaign, which will ensure we can effectively serve everyone who is calling us this year. Every gift, no matter the size, will help provide hope. If you’ve already given this year, consider making an extra gift of $10-$15 as a “give up my specialty coffee week” gesture, or as a “pay it forward” gift in honor of a friend or family member.
  5. Giving makes YOU feel good! Studies (like this one) have found that when we do something good for others, we reap the benefit of feeling good ourselves—both emotionally and physically.
  6. There are nine dedicated and hard-working staff who will be personally grateful to you. Even after spending over ten (!) years at Bridges, I never cease to feel appreciative and so humbled as I watch the gifts come in each fall: only because of your support are we able to support others in our community.
  7. You can make a real difference in someone else’s life. Without you, Bridges wouldn’t be here—it’s as simple as that. Your gift makes stories like these possible.DonateButtonOrangeLogo

So there it is: your gift is needed this year more than ever before—it’s important to us, it goes to work immediately, it will make a tangible difference for someone in need in our community, you’ll be a part of a larger network of support, and you’ll feel good doing it. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to Bridges of Hope today. We are able to fulfill our mission here in the Lakes Area only because of you. Thank you.

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Click here to make your year-end gift now!

Samantha’s Moment

Samantha and Matthew have three children (Alex, Tanner, & Asher). They have interacted with Bridges of Hope on a few different occasions over the past 7 years. I recently sat down with Samantha to chat with her about her experiences and the difference that Bridges of Hope has made in her life.

Q: What was life like “before Bridges?”

A: Well, Matthew works full time and is a student full-time, so sometimes I feel like a single mom. He helps when he can, and we are lucky to live somewhere where there are extra hands to help out when he can’t. It all started when I was diagnosed with cancer and lost my job. I was uninsured at the time and we racked up a lot of medical debt. Matthew’s wages began to be garnished and we eventually lost our home. We ended up homeless—we were couch surfing between friends and family. Through this all my kids had a “schedule,” but I knew in my heart the instability was not good for them.

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Alex & Asher

In January we ended up at New Pathways. That was when I hit rock bottom and was reported to Child Protective Services. At first I was upset, but now I realize that there is a stigma about Child Protection. Just because you are reported, does not mean you are a bad parent; it just means someone is concerned for your kids. I was reported but a case was not opened, and that is how I was referred to the Parent Support Outreach Program at Bridges of Hope. Jennifer [Outreach Worker at Bridges of Hope] was great. She was open and honest with me about the referral to Child Protection, but helped me see it as a way to make necessary changes in my life. After that program was finished, I was referred to the Side by Side program and have been participating in that since July of this year.

Q: What steps did Bridges of Hope take with you to address the concerns you had?

A: Jennifer, and now the Mentors and other women in the Side by Side Program were constantly checking in and giving me resources. Stress was a big problem for me; I felt like a single mom most of the time. Jennifer let me know it was okay to feel what I was feeling and gave me skills to deal with my stress. I was connected with Respite care, which gives us a break every month—that has been HUGE!

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Samantha and her kids

Q: What is different now?

A: STABILITY! And I get out of the house! The other women participating in Side by Side have been amazing. They have been there, just like me, and I don’t feel that “shame on me” that I have felt other times in my life. They, along with my Mentors, help me see that the best I can do is good enough, but they also challenge me to be better. Now Matthew and I both have full-time jobs and we are planning on buying a house. (No, not tomorrow–its part of our five-year plan!) Our kids are happier and A LOT less stressed, and so am I. They are growing and back on track developmentally. My daughter had been behind on reading and now is reading 4 grades above where she should be.

Q: What if Bridges of Hope didn’t exist?

A: We’d have failed. Our kids would have been taken. There’s no doubt that I could not have kept it together without the support that Bridges gave me. My life is more balanced—I have learned to focus on myself so I can then focus on my kids and be a good mom.

Q: What are the first words that come to mind when you think of Bridges of Hope?

A: Supportive, Positive, Uplifting, and Genuine. Everyone I have ever talked to at Bridges of Hope has been genuine. No one has ever talked down to me or made me feel ashamed. They have always focused on the positive strengths that I have and used them to help me see the things I needed to work on.

Thank you Samantha, for your willingness to share, for your courage to make amazing changes in your life, and for allowing us to be a part of your story. We are proud of you!

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Will YOU give the Power 2 HOPE to a family this year? A gift of any size makes a difference for families in the Lakes Area every day. Make a donation today!

 

Irene’s Moment

“Crazy.” –Irene said with a little chuckle. That’s how she described her life before Bridges of Hope. Irene is able to see the joy in her life now, but that was not the case before joining the Side by Side Program at Bridges.

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Irene

A few years ago, Irene was recovering from some family circumstances that had thrown her into deep postpartum depression. She had a very difficult pregnancy, and shortly after her daughter (Mackenzie) was delivered, her fiancé was deployed. Irene was weak from the pregnancy and had very little support.

As often happens during challenging situations, people in Irene’s life shared words of advice and encouragement. Unfortunately, no one was actually there to help her when she was up all night with a new baby which often led to her other children being late to school the next day.

Irene struggled to keep up with the day to day. Not only was getting her children to school on time more than she could manage, she also struggled with the daily tasks of keeping their (at that time) very small apartment in order. Irene pointed to the size of the room we were sitting in and said—“It [our apartment] was probably not much bigger than this room.”

Even after her fiance came home, things continued to be tough. Not only was Irene still wrestling with depression, but now they began to have relationship issues. As great as it was to have him back–they had been living separate lives for over a year. These struggles went on for years–eventually Irene’s mental health issues, taking care of her home, and parenting her kids seemed like too much. And it was. The school pointed out some concerns to Irene and that was when she knew something needed to change. Thankfully, Irene was connected with a counselor at Northern Pines Mental Health Center and was referred to Bridges of Hope’s Side by Side Mentoring Program last year.

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Mackenzie (Age 4)

Bridges helped Irene gain focus through goal setting with her case manager and mentors. She addressed her mental health issues (depression, PTSD, and anxiety) and learned the skills necessary to cope with them. This has made a tremendous difference for Irene and has allowed her to work on her relationship, parenting, and other life skills.

Irene has since enrolled in school at Central Lakes College and was recently invited to join the honors program. She is hopeful that she will be accepted.

Everyone I’ve met through Bridges has helped me gain confidence to take the step and get back into school. I am now pursuing a business management degree and have dreams of owning two different businesses.

The mentors and other women in the program made a big difference in my life. They would text me just to check in and we would meet as often as we could. They have given me the confidence I need and have told me my dreams and goals are attainable. I wouldn’t be where I am at now without Bridges. It was the interactions with the mentors and case manager that kept me focused, reminded me of my goals, and built me up when others were tearing me down. I finally feel I’m on the right path—because of the support and encouragement from Bridges things are getting better– it just feels like it’s all clicking.

As Irene made these final statements…I couldn’t help but notice the twinkle of hope in her eye. Hope truly makes all the difference in the world.

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You can make a gift that will multiply hope for Lakes Area families this holiday season. Please help us reach our $80,000 fall campaign goal to make more stories like Irene’s possible:

  • Make a donation today!
  • All donations are 100% tax-deductible and go directly to serving the Lakes Area.
  • Learn more about our programs.

 

 

Are You a Frantic Family?

Are you a frantic family?  Do you sometimes wonder if have you have over-scheduled your kids?

Now that we are a couple of months into school, there continues to be a multitude of extra-curricular opportunities for our kids to get involved in. Even your preschoolers have more opportunities than ever before! In his book called Putting Families First, Dr. William Doherty states:

In the past twenty years, children’s free time has declined by twelve hours a week, time spent on structured                       sports activities has doubled, family dinners are down by a third, and the number of families taking vacations                       together has decreased by 28 percent.”

(This book was published in 2002, so you can imagine the statistics for family connections these days!)

To help you decide if your family is over-scheduled, agree or disagree with the statements below and give yourself one point for each statement you agree with.

  1. We struggle to find time for unhurried family meals.overwhelmed
  2. I think we spend too much time getting to and from our children’s activities.
  3. Homework can be difficult to squeeze into the children’s schedules.
  4. My kids don’t have enough time to hang out and entertain themselves.
  5. I wish we spent more time home as a family.
  6. It is hard to visit relatives and family friends because we are so busy.
  7. We don’t go on family trips and outings as much as we would like.
  8. Even on weekends, it can be hard to get the whole family together because of everyone’s schedules.

Then, add up your points:
If your total is 6-8, you are probably a seriously frantic family.
If your total is 3-5, you are probably a somewhat frantic family.
If your total is 0-2, CONGRATULATIONS, and please teach the rest of us how to do it!

If you are a “seriously” or a “even somewhat” frantic family, don’t worry! Now you are aware (or you might have already known), and you have the chance to make positive lasting changes in your family’s life. Simply begin by slowing down and connecting with your family again. You will be guaranteed a happier, healthier family!

Here are a few ideas on how to start:

  • Family meals – if dinner is too hard, make it breakfast!
  • Family Game nights – play board games, charades…anything that your family finds fun!
  • Intentional bedtime routines – read a book together, sing, pray…again, it doesn’t really matter what you do; just be consistent!
  • Family walks, bike rides – go to neighborhood park or a local trail.

At Bridges of Hope, we work every day to help families achieve balance in their lives among work, family, and activities. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your kids is to not “do” anything.

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How you can help families in the Lakes area:

  • Learn more about what we do to help families: check out our website.
  • Make a gift to support the work we do, click here to make a gift online today!