Danielle’s Moment

Nativity_tree2011If you’re like me, you are focusing some time & energy today on wrapping up loose ends at work so you can turn your focus to wrapping up gifts and the final details for your Christmas celebrations next week. Or maybe you’re that amazing person at your church who is leading the Christmas program performance this weekend (God bless you!).

No matter what our “loose ends” might be, I hope we all take more than a few moments to pause, breathe, and prepare our minds & hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

At Bridges of Hope, we are helping individuals and families with more than loose ends. We are proud to do this rewarding, tough, and sometimes heartbreaking work.

I want to tell you about one family in particular who is weighing heavily on my mind today. (I’ve changed the details about their family, in order to honor their privacy.)

Danielle called our office a couple of weeks ago. She was encouraged to do so by a hospital social worker. Danielle has been battling cancer for the last few years and just received the news that no one wants to hear: there is nothing more that can be done by her doctors. It is unclear how much time Danielle has left on this earth with her family. She was clear about this when she spoke with Jacklin in our office, though: she feels blessed. She plans to enjoy the time she has left with her husband and two young kids. And she wants to continue doing the things she loves as long as possible, including reading.

The cancer is affecting her vision, but she can still read with a magnifying glass–which is where Bridges comes in. When making some plans for her transition home, Danielle and her social worker were looking into large, hands-free magnifying glasses. They aren’t very expensive; however, the $50 – $80 cost is not in the family’s already stretched budget.

Danielle, who is only in her late 30’s, participated in our simple intake process with Jacklin and our team quickly agreed that getting Danielle a magnifying glass, utilizing our Spirit of Kindness Fund, was absolutely the right thing to do! Just a couple of hours after we made this decision, Jacklin approached me and was excited to report that she ended up connecting Danielle with a local office who wanted to help an individual or family out at Christmas. This amazing group of office folks now plans to purchase the magnifying glass and shower Danielle with a few other goodies for the holidays (another community group has already committed to adopt Danielle’s kiddos for Christmas).

This is a little thing that means a lot for Danielle and her family and they prepare for the uncertainty ahead during this Christmas season.

YOU make it possible for us to extend Christ’s love to Danielle and the hundreds of other individuals and families who are reaching out to Bridges of Hope during this holiday season. As you know, we are nearing the deadline for our year-end “I Hope” campaign and we’ve raised $34,039 so far. Thank you!

IThermo_04n order to continue making a difference in big and small ways, we must reach our goal of raising $60,000 by December 31st. Can you help provide hope still this year to others like Danielle? A gift of just $175 will allow us the honor of serving one household.

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Will you help us build Bridges today? On behalf of the Bridges staff & board, I ask that you consider pausing from whatever you might be doing right now and make a gift, big or small, to support our work with families in the Lakes Area. Your gift will truly make a difference!

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Hopelessly Devoted

Business owner. Bicycle enthusiast. Photographer. Father. Husband.Biff

And, just one year ago, Biff Ulm added ‘board member’ to the list.

“I first became involved with Bridges of Hope after being contacted by a friend to serve on an advisory team for their retail store, Common Goods,” Biff noted. “I quickly discovered the true impact that shopping and donating to Common Goods has on our community as a whole.  I truly believe when one learns about all the good Bridges does for the Lakes Area, it’s hard not to want to donate time and personal resources to such worthy causes.”

Biff, who – himself – knows the retail world well as manager of Zaiser’s in downtown Nisswa, has since increased his involvement with Bridges of Hope, including serving on planning committees for the annual Glow Run and the Afternoon Tea.

“The focus of every Bridges event is about those attending and the cause they are serving.  One quickly learns, Bridges is one hundred percent about investing in people of all walks of life.  To see so many people come out and support each other, makes for an extremely enjoyable time.”

As both a Bridges board member and supporter, Biff rolled up his sleeves and worked alongside hundreds of volunteers following the July 12th storm that hit the area – cutting trees and providing for the needs of those hardest hit.

“Hands down, the biggest event in the Lakes Area this year was the storm that devastated the communities north of Brainerd,” he said. “One doesn’t have to travel far to see the scars and work that continues to be done in so many neighborhoods. To see how quickly Bridges of Hope took the lead in coordinating a multi-organizational effort to help those in most need was amazing.

“In the areas hardest hit, one witnessed so much selfless giving by neighborsI Hope button helping neighbors. I spent two days on Bridges of Hope volunteer clean up crews and two additional days with other volunteer efforts.  What I heard over and over from property owners was the true heroes of the storm were those individuals who were there to
answer the phone for those in most need the days after the storms. Bridges of Hope staff listened and acted with care and compassion to help coordinate a massive effort across many organizations and hundreds of volunteers to get those in most need the help they needed.”

“While Bridges had never coordinated such a mass effort, they did so with such
ease,” he continued. “Never did the Bridges of Hope board or paid staff waiver on whether they should play such an integral role. Instead, they immediately focused on how they could do the most good. This illustrates the strength of this amazing organization.”

Biff said he most appreciates the effectiveness and scope of the Bridges organization and its staff, never ceasing to help build a stronger community.

“The level of synergy and teamwork should be the standard for any nonprofit,” he noted. “Bridges serves the entire Lakes Area by helping so many overcome life’s obstacles. I think one of the most humbling stories I have heard over and over again is how Bridges has helped families who never thought they would need help in the first place get back on their feet. One never knows when bad luck, or an action of no cause to one’s own, will put a family in a difficult situation. Knowing there is an organization that treats people with dignity and love to overcome unexpected hardship, gives so much inspiration. It is why I am proud to call Nisswa and all the surrounding areas home.”

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YOU can provide hope to those in need! From now through year-end, Bridges needs to raise $60,000 to meet the needs of our friends, family, and neighbors in the Lakes Area. Click here to make a 100% tax-deductible donation or your can mail a gift to PO Box 742; Brainerd, MN 56401.

Week 7 update of our campaign: we are halfway to our goal, at $31,600!

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Thank you for giving.

Beauty in the Storm

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In the midst of a storm, the last thing many of us witness is beauty. However, one Brainerd area couple saw just that in the hours, days and weeks following the July 12th storm that hit the Lakes Area this past summer.

Tom and Marlene Larson have called this area home for over 50 years. But never has the Brainerd couple witnessed a disaster matching the magnitude of the storm on Sunday, July 12, 2015.

During the storm, the Larsons had three layers of trees fall on the west side of two garages, leaving gaping holes in the roof and a daunting job of clearing.

Despite the irreplaceable damage to property and the emotional toll it took on so many, Tom and Marlene noted that it was an opportunity for community to come together and witness the generosity and giving spirit of so many willing to step forward in times of need.

“We were so thankful to have little damage to our home, but we hardly had a tree left on our property,” Marlene noted. “It took six of us to open our driveway.”

“Yes, it was severe. Yes, there was much damage. But this has brought neighborhoods together. We think of this as ‘people helping people.’”AmeriCorps

Within days following the storm, crews arrived to help cover the holes in the roof with tarps. Bottled water and snacks were delivered, and the Larsons reached out to Bridges of Hope for additional assistance.

Fulfilling the call, Bridges of Hope partnered with local emergency services personnel to provide volunteers and necessary resources to those impacted by the storm; as well as providing spiritual, mental and emotional support to individuals and families just like Tom and Marlene’s.

Marlene shared, “It’s an appropriate name, as they were ready to assist our needs – emotional and physical.”

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You can help ensure Bridges of Hope’s services are available for all who call; help us reach our $60,000 goal by year-end! As of 12/4/15, you have given ~$23,000 to help those in need. Thank you!DonateButtonOrangeLogo

Just Over Four Weeks To Go!

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We’re already 4 weeks into our 2015 Bridges of Hope “I Hope” fall fundraising campaign, and we have been blown away by the generosity of so many individuals who believe in the power of this organization–and in the power of how, together, we can make a difference in the lives of countless people throughout our community.

As of today, we have raised approximately $18,300! You have dug deep and responded with your heart; and, for that, we say ‘thank you!’ Because of your giving spirit, we will continue to serve the needs – both mental, physical and spiritual – of those we are called upon to serve.

Thermo_02Your support makes a big difference. Did you know that in 2014 alone, thanks to you, we provided hope and assistance to over 2,500 households? And this year, during our storm relief efforts in July, we heard from more than 140 households impacted by the storm, which nearly doubled our services during that time! Many households were looking for information about how to access clean water, a shower, a hot meal, or simply where to bring their branches and other debris. In addition, we had the privilege of working with relief groups such as Nechama Jewish Response to Disaster, a Southern Baptist relief group, Catholic United, Menonite Disaster Response, Home Depot, AmeriCorps, and many others–and connected them with 46 households who were elderly, disabled, or facing some other barrier to assess & address the emergent tree removal and yard clean-up needed.

If you haven’t had a chance to make your gift yet, there is still time to make a tax-deductible gift to support others in need in our community. Between now and December 31, we still need to raise about $41,700. A gift of just $175 can support one household in need–and EVERY gift makes a difference.

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Giving is easy – visit our website by clicking here. If you’d rather make a contribution in person or by mail, our address is PO Box 742 Brainerd, MN 56401. Checks can be made to Bridges of Hope.

Again, you are the reason Bridges of Hope has been in faithful service since 2002. We thank you for your support and look forward to what 2016 brings!