Crossing Bridges by Jenny Holmes

I was first introduced to Jana Shogren, and subsequently the Bridges of Hope organization, four years ago. At the time, I was working for a local nonprofit and we both found ourselves at a networking event where we were introduced.

As most women do, we exchanged niceties and moved on. Little did I know how our paths would again cross in the future.

Jenny & JanaIn January 2015, Jana invited me to coffee to bounce a few ideas off another non-profit thinker. In a world of never-ending fundraisers, Jana was looking for something fresh and fun to help raise necessary dollars and awareness for a new mentoring program at Bridges called “Side-By-Side.” Her idea was a tea party where women and girls would make a special date and dress in pearls and fascinators and enjoy tea and finger foods, all the while contributing to a deserving cause. It sounded like a win-win to me and something I’d be interested in taking my young daughter to. But as she continued about the concept behind not only Bridges of Hope but also the Side-By-Side program, I knew I had to become a planner and not just a participant. I offered to sit on the planning committee and help kick off the first annual tea party.

The 2015 Afternoon Tea for Hope was a smashing success. The room was filled with excited women and young girls, dressed in their Sunday best. Thanks to the amazing and creative work of Kate Kuepers, the room was transformed into an English tea parlor with blooming bouquets and bright colors. It was quite magical. Goodies and tea were consumed, silent auction items were clamored over, laughs were shared, tears were shed, messages were conveyed. But I think one of the most appreciated pieces of the afternoon came by way of 10 strapping gentlemen from the Nisswa Fire Department who volunteered their time, and charm, to serve tea, clear plates, take pictures and more. I think it’s quite safe to say, fun was had by ALL!

**Photo credit: Aimee Jobe Photography

Needless to say, I was on-board to help plan the 2016 Afternoon Tea for Hope. We have opted to change venues in an effort to accommodate even more women and girls this year. We’ve begun soliciting and collecting fabulous items for the silent auction, planning décor and treats; and, yes, the firemen will be back. However, this year we’re adding in a few from the Brainerd Fire Department and we can guarantee, our guests will not be disappointed.

If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to buy your tickets for this event. It truly is one of a kind and a wonderful way to share a classy afternoon with your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, daughter, girlfriend or any other special someone in your life. It’s all about making connections. And, ironically, that is where the proceeds from this event will once again go – to connect women with a mentor to help them navigate on the often-bumpy and busy road we call life. Many of our Side-By-Side mentors and participants will also be at the Tea to share their stories and testify to how this program has made an incredible impact in their lives.

Tickets make an excellent birthday or Mother’s Day gift. Get yours today and see for yourself how one simple bridge can connect an individual to a much better place.

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