Charlotte’s Moment

I had the blessing of visiting with Charlotte about her experiences with Bridges of Hope over the last couple of years. Charlotte is a wonderfully warm, compassionate, confident, and strong woman. She didn’t always feel that way, though.SONY DSC

A few years ago, low self-esteem and a general feeling of being “lost” had taken their toll on Charlotte. She found herself feeling depressed and alone and spent the next few months trying to get her life back on track.

Charlotte told me that at first, “it felt like nobody was interested in helping.” Then she received a letter inviting her to participate in the Parent Support Outreach Program at Bridges of Hope, and she was excited. Charlotte recalled, “before that, I thought everything was done for. I didn’t know where to turn.”

Charlotte connected with us and soon started working with one of our staff, Jennifer, who helped her identify goals and break them down into manageable steps. One of those goals was to find affordable housing. The Lutheran Social Service HOPE Housing program was able to assist Charlotte with the funds needed to rent a new place; however, there was one small barrier: Renter’s Insurance. Charlotte was able to put some money toward it, and Bridges helped with the rest. In talking with me, Charlotte reflected that it was a little thing that made a huge difference.”

Charlotte at her college graduation with her mentor, Sheila!

Charlotte at her college graduation with her mentor, Sheila!

Now that stable housing was in place, Charlotte could focus on being a good parent to Hunter and on being a great student, since she was also enrolled in classes at Central Lakes College (CLC). A few months later, Bridges of Hope invited Charlotte to participate in our Side by Side Mentoring Program. She needed a little extra boost of support, and our volunteer Mentors provided just that.

Charlotte shared, “I looked forward to the monthly meetings, the text messages from Sheila, and coffee dates with Jan [both Charlotte’s Mentors]. They even brought meals over a few times when I was studying!”

Charlotte graduated from CLC this year and now and works at Lutheran Social Service helping others through difficult situations.“If it weren’t for Bridges, I really don’t think I would have graduated.”

When I asked her what is different now, Charlotte said, “I’ve finally figured out who I am; I feel more confident and connected. For the first time, I feel like I have people in my life who are proud of me.”

We are so proud of Charlotte for her hard work!

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Help make more stories like Charlotte’s possible:

  • Make a gift today to help us reach our $80,000 Fall Campaign goal. We just reached the halfway point and have two weeks left to raise another $40,000 to help serve the households (like Charlotte’s) that will still reach out to us this year.
  • Shop at Common Goods; proceeds stay local and help us help families in the Lakes Area.

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.


Click here to make your year-end gift now!

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:

YOU made it a Happy New Year!

Greetings wonderful supporters! YOU made it a Happy New Year for more than 2,500 households in the Lakes Area!

It was Monday, December 30. Our staff members were busy on their final day in the office for 2012, serving clients and preparing for all 2013 would bring. Our Fall Campaign to help support our work with families like Steven & Laura’s, Shelly’s, and many others had reached the $56,619 mark by the end of the day. We were just $3,381 shy of our goal and were feeling so fortunate to have such generous supporters. AND, there were still Thrivent Financial Foundation matching funds available, so we were hopeful we would reach our $60,000 goal.

Once again, YOU, our faithful supporters answered the call to action. When we returned to the office this morning to account for the gifts that arrived online & those postmarked by December 31, 2012, the grand total that YOU contributed to our 2012 Fall Campaign was….

Drum roll, please...

Drum roll, please…


THANK YOU for helping us surpass our goal. Your generosity is appreciated by the more than 2,500 households across the Lakes Area who turned to Bridges of Hope during a time of need in 2012.

We look forward to all that 2013 will bring: opportunities & challenges.


YOU make all the difference. Happy New Year! Thanks again for helping us build Bridges!

His Blessings Abound

From all of us here at Bridges of Hope, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

jana_giant penAs we continue to celebrate His birth, we also had a week of many other blessings here at Bridges! Our staff enjoyed a much needed long weekend to celebrate Christmas with our loved ones. We returned to the office on Wednesday to find a generous, unexpected donation in the mail for our new Side by Side Mentor Program. This donation for over $10,000 brings our Fall Campaign total to $55,119.

We have nearly reached our $60,000 goal and are VERY thankful to our donors (just take a look at the festive pen I used to sign thank you letters last week!).

All year we anticipated serving more than 2,500 households in 2012. At 9:18 a.m. on Wednesday this week, we realized that “goal.” We are so thankful that by His grace and your generous support, Bridges of Hope has bridged the gap for thousands of people in the Lakes Area in 2012 and we will continue to do so into 2013.

new CG 2Another way you’ve supported our work is by shopping often and donating generously at Common Goods. Over the last three years, you’ve been telling us, “You need more space.” Well, we listened & responded to your requests. We now have a larger sales floor and have moved children’s clothing, shoes, books, toys & home linens to a new section in the rear of the store.  Framed pictures are displayed on a wall for easy viewing. Head on over & check it out. We hope you enjoy the improved shopping experience!

If you haven’t had a chance to financially support our work with families like Jack, Dylan & Chloe’s, there is still time. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation by the end of the day on December 31 and Thrivent Financial Foundation will match your gift.

Jack, Dylan and ChloeA gift of just $150 serves a family and, when matched, your gift will have double the impact and will serve two families. Click here to donate now.

On behalf of our clients, staff members &  board of directors, thank you for helping us build Bridges!

God bless,


Campaign Reaches $41,000–and Matching Funds Available!

BoH Fall Campaign -36K Mark

Thank you, thank you, and thank you again. If you have been a supporter to Bridges of Hope this year, you made a difference in the life of a family like Steven and Laura’s. We cannot thank you enough for your generosity.

As the year (and our Fall Campaign) draws to a close, we are excited to announce a brand-new development: the Thrivent Financial Foundation will match every new donation, up to $5,000!

We are thrilled to share this great new matching funds opportunity with you. If you have not yet had the opportunity to make a gift during this campaign, or if you are able to make an extra year-end gift, there is still time to help us reach our $60,000 goal by year-end. You can give online here, and double your impact for families across the Lakes Area (gifts may also be made by check; please note “Thrivent Match” in the memo line).

Here are just a few examples of how your support makes a difference:

  • Helping families gain access to basic needs items like food, clothing, hygiene items, and baby needs.
  • Helping families find and maintain safe, affordable housing.
  • Helping families stay warm during the winter months.
  • Helping families stay employed by removing transportation barriers.
  • Helping children stay safe by providing a childcare break for their parents.
  • Helping families stay together by providing services that prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

You can read more about our programs and services here.

Your support is what enables us to help families each and every day. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

The All-Time Top Eleven Quotes from our Clients

Thank-You Card

Since our founding, Bridges of Hope has built-in a specific follow-up component to our services. We have two main reasons for doing this. First, we want to make sure that the resources, programs and ideas we suggested actually helped someone resolve their crisis–because that’s why we exist! Second, and equally as important, we want to know whenever those resources, programs, and ideas didn’t work for someone–so we can do a better job matching a person’s unique situation to the right resources the next time around.

Because of our commitment to following up, our staff spend some of their time every week making follow-up phone calls to those we have recently worked with. A side benefit to making these phone calls is that many of our clients say some really kind things to us, and a few years ago, we decided it might be a good idea to write them down!

So here you can see the all-time top eleven quotes from our clients, as voted on by our staff.

Some are funny, some are a little quirky, most inspire us to continue our work, and all of them are incredibly gracious and kind:

Number 11: Bridges was beyond wonderful. I wish I would have known about this program 6 years ago.

Number 10: I can’t believe how nice your thrift store is!

Number 9: Usually Bridges is pretty good. The way I look at it is that it just isn’t meant to be this time.

Number 8: I called for Crisis Nursery at 9:00 AM and got to work by 10:00!

Number 7: I so appreciate you! You are a lifesaver. I can’t say excellent enough! I don’t know what I would have done without you!

Number 6: Because of Bridges of Hope, I feel like I have more support in the Brainerd community.

Number 5: You guys rock. I have tears in my eyes. I was so worried about my kids.

Number 4: My opinion of Bridges has just changed, because you made this follow-up call to see how we were doing.

Number 3: I was so distraught and worried when I called Bridges of Hope. When I got off the phone I prayed, and then a sense of calm came over me. I feel that Bridges was the answer to my prayers. Thank you.

Number 2: I am so grateful that you helped me! I had no other way to get my car fixed. Thank God for Bridges of Hope and people like you!

And our nearly unanimous favorite:

Number 1: I wouldn’t have made it through without all the help. You were the “bridge” to my hope!

Honestly, there is truly no higher source of praise. An enormous thanks is due to those we serve for their generous words.


Do you know someone who is struggling? Someone working through a family or parenting crisis? Someone could use our help navigating area resources? Visit our website for more information or have them call Bridges of Hope today: 218.825.7682.