Thanks to You…

We are having another record-breaking year here at Bridges of Hope. So far this year, we have been able to serve 2,662 households (and counting!), as well as a staggering 17,944 households since our founding in 2002!

And all of that is because of you: it’s the donors that truly make the difference at Bridges. This past week I asked our staff to articulate specifically what your support has enabled us to do. Here’s what they said:

Thanks to you, this year…

  • Alex was able to help someone who is going through a complete life change have at least one less stressor in their life.
  • Dar was able to provide parenting support such as Love & Logic and parent coaching for the high-risk families she works with in their homes.
  • Erica was able to stay up-to-date on the best practices that enable her to visit families in their homes and teach them the skills necessary for them to be able to live a healthier, more fulfilling life.
  • Jacklin was able to help a 21-year-old veteran resettle in Minnesota after a messy divorce: because Bridges of Hope could pay for new tabs on her car, she was able to continue driving legally while she works on getting her life resettled.
  • Janelle was able to support and educate teen parents–as well as work with over 2,800 households in the last five years–and is thankful for the impact they have had on her.
  • Michele was able to ensure that Bridges of Hope can focus its programs on family preservation and keeping families strong.
  • Meghann was able to help the victims of house fires with the resources and assistance to meet both their immediate needs (food, clothing, and temporary shelter) and their longer-term  needs (new housing and furnishings).
  • Bridges of Hope has been able to create amazing “Moments” like Dustyne’s story. You can even see a brief, personal thank-you from Dustyne herself here:

Clearly this is just a tiny snapshot of the HUGE impact we have been able to have in our community, thanks to you. We are so grateful for your support, because it enables us to impact multiple generations: by improving the lives of parents we know we’re improving the lives of children, too.

We are so thankful that all year long, YOU, our donors, have been entrusting your gifts with us; because you understand the importance of Bridges being able to be flexible, creative, and able to respond to every household’s situation uniquely.

Online fundraising for Bridges of Hope Fall Campaign - 60K in 60 DaysHere at Bridges of Hope, we are ALL thankful that we have such supportive donors who understand that the need is great, and because of that, you have again responded this fall with gifts to support this work. We thank YOU for helping US build Bridges!

From all of us at Bridges of Hope, thank you for your partnership, and Happy Thanksgiving.


Great Partnerships, Guaranteed

Amazing things are happening at Bridges of Hope, all because of you.

BOH_BBCampaign_36kBecause of you, today (one week before Thanksgiving), our Fall Fundraising Campaign (60K in 60 Days) has reached $36,000 of our $60,000 goal, just 21 days into the campaign–that is simply incredible. That translates into help and hope for 240 more families this year. Thank you.

Common Goods - Hip ThriftBecause of you, Common Goods has had a record-breaking number of shoppers (and sales) in the past 30 days–which means even more help and hope for families in our community! Thank you for both donating such high-quality items and for coming in and shopping for those amazing items.

Because of you, we are SO CLOSE to meeting the challenge of providing Thanksgiving Meals for 368 households this year–100 more than any year in the past! (Approximately 50 more sponsors are needed for adult households without children. Click here to learn more.) Thank you.

Because of you, Bridges of Hope is able to partner with our local landlords, utility companies, local businesses, auto repairs, appliance stores, local agencies, area churches, and others to provide critical shelter and basic needs assistance to families in our community, and we are so thankful to you for your willingness to partner with Bridges of Hope. Since our inception, Bridges of Hope has worked with well over 100 different partners/vendors in Crow Wing County and the surrounding communities. Thank you. 

Our amazing local partnerships are something I’d like to tell you a little more about:

Bridges of Hope is first and foremost a resource and referral agency–our role is to bridge the gap between those in need in our community and the community assets that can help them. But of course there are times when all of the local resources have been exhausted, or nothing exists to help with a particular situation, or there is some other reasonable explanation as to why we are unable to connect them to local resources, but the family’s situation still warrants helping.

In those times (depending on whether we have funding), Bridges is able to assist financially, thanks to our church-supported community benevolence funds (Spirit of Kindness Fund) and the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation-supported fund, Spirit of Hope. Annually, this is still a very small percentage of the overall services we provide (in 2012, it was ~160 of 2,570 households), but in those situations it still matters a LOT, and that is when our local partnerships are so important and so helpful.

Guarantee of Payment Letter ExampleEven if we’re able to make a decision to assist a family, it can still take up to 3 weeks to draw up the appropriate paperwork, have it approved by a supervisor, sent to our accountant, have a check issued, and then have the payment actually received by whatever business we’re working with.

That is why we are so grateful for the acceptance of our “Guarantee of Payment” letter, which is exactly what it sound like–the business/vendor trusts our word that we are going to pay on the client’s behalf, and they accept the letter as “payment” while they wait for our check to arrive.

This removes a HUGE amount of stress from the family we’re working with, as well as enables us to work through the needed internal controls practices that are required of us. We use this process in situations such as electric shut offs, eviction notices, car repairs, housing repairs, rent, and deposits, among many other unique situations.

An example of how this works would be in a situation where Bridges of Hope is working with a homeless family of five with an annual income of $34,700. We work with them to find affordable housing, which is recommended to be about 30% of their income. They find an available place for $775/month that meets this guideline, but in order to move in, their new rental requires first month’s rent and a damage deposit, as well as a utility deposit to hook up their electricity and heat–over $1,800 for a family that makes just $2,900 per month. In addition, their income of $34,700 was calculated based on one of the parents’ new jobs, where they have only received one paycheck so far–but the family cannot move in until all the deposits have been paid.

This is a common scenario for families in our community, but thanks to the acceptance of our “Guarantee of Payment” letter by our amazing partners, we are able to assist the family in getting into their affordable housing without further delays. We know that stable, safe, and affordable housing is the backbone of a successful, productive community member–and this is just one simple way that several different parts of our community pull together to help some of our members in need.

So because of you, Bridges is able to continue fulfilling our mission to bridge the gaps, support & strengthen families, and send a message of hope. Thank you to all of our partners in the Lakes Area and beyond. Together we are making a difference in our “commUNITY.”

60K in 60 Days Kick-Off Event a Success

On Friday, November 1, about fifty brave souls gathered at the Franklin Arts Center parking lot for lunch at Prairie Bay’s Side Dish food truck. It was the kick-off event for Bridges of Hope’s fall fundraising campaign: “60K in 60 Days,” and Prairie Bay generously donated a full 25% of their sales to us during the event!

Side Dish Truck & Bridges of Hope

The Side Dish is Ready to Serve!

Lakeland News showed up to cover the event as well, which you can watch here:

There were many bowls of Prairie Bay’s famous Lobster Bisque ladled out; as well as many, many steaming cups of coffee ordered by those who came out both to support Bridges and to take advantage of the Side Dish’s last stop of the season.

The First Customers Put in their Orders at the Side Dish

The First Customers of the Day

Our Staff Are Ready to Greet You!

Our Staff Braving the Weather

The Line Gets Longer at the Side Dish

The Line Getting Longer

We are so thankful for the great show of support on a rather chilly, windy day! YOU helped make our Fall Fundraising Campaign kick-off successful!

Here are a few more ways you can help us build Bridges this fall:

Dustyne’s Moment

Dustyne and her beautiful children had experienced too much heartache, and Dustyne turned to Bridges of Hope despite feeling nervous and afraid. She recalls: “Things just weren’t adding up. I needed help to stop going in the same circle.”

Side by Side participant Dustyne

Dustyne With Her Son Derrick

Dustyne was connected with our Side by Side Mentoring Program. She had the skills to live a healthy and successful life; she simply lacked the social connections that help everything fall into place.

Over the course of 8 months in the Side by Side program, with help from her mentors and her own strong determination, Dustyne obtained employment, moved her family into more suitable housing, and began to realize just how much she had to offer.

Dustyne reflects on her experience, one year after starting the program: “In the beginning, I didn’t think I had anything to offer. After a while, I realized other women were actually learning from me too, and that is pretty special. My mentors and the Bridges staff want to see me grow, and I thank God for putting them in my life.”

You can watch Dustyne’s story in her own words here:

A gift of $150 supports our work with one family.

A gift of $150 supports one family.

Our supporters have continued to come alongside Lakes Area families just like Dustyne’s, helping Bridges of Hope make life-changing transformations like this possible. Thousands of households are facing challenging situations and continue to reach out to Bridges for support each year.

This fall and winter we invite you to join us on our journey to raise “60K in 60 Days.” That $60,000 will make it possible to improve the lives of 400 families who will call Bridges of Hope before the end of the year.

With your support, we can reach this goal by December 31st!

Here are three ways that you can make a difference:

  • Make a gift now to support other families just like Dustyne’s.
  • Make a gift on Give to the Max Day (Thursday, November 14), and your online gift will be matched, up to $15,000!
  • Make a year-end gift in memory or honor of someone special in your life. Checks can be sent to Bridges of Hope, PO Box 742 Brainerd MN 56401.

On behalf of Dustyne & her family–and all of the families we serve–thank you for your generosity.

Where will you be on November 1?

A gift of $150 supports our work with one family.

A gift of $150 supports our work with one family.

We hope you will join us for lunch on Friday, November 1st from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Franklin Arts Center Parking Lot.

The Side Dish food truck from Prairie Bay will be on hand serving up an amazing lunch for an amazing cause–strengthening & supporting families in our community through our unique and flexible services at Bridges of Hope.

Prairie Bay is helping us kick off our “60K in 60 Days” Fall Fundraising Campaign, and we want YOU to join us!

Prairie Bay is generously donating 25% of the food sales to Bridges of Hope, and we are so grateful for their partnership and support!

Last year, the community contributed more than $60,000 to our campaign (THANK YOU!) and here’s what we were able to do with those dollars:

  • 1,580 households received vital support for essentials like food, shelter & staying warm.
  • 650 children had a safe place to stay when their parents needed a break or time to attend to a family crisis.
  • 375 parents were given guidance to improve their parenting skills or care for their mental health.
  • 280 households received a meal at Thanksgiving.

Those are some amazing results, and it’s only possible because of you, our equally amazing donors, supporters, and community partners. The phone rings anew every day here at Bridges of Hope, and we have the privilege of serving those facing challenges all across the Lakes Area. These families are struggling with a variety of situations, and YOU can help change the ending to their stories.

In order to be available to help the families that will call us between now and the end of the year, we need your help. Here’s what you can do: