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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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!

 

What Does it Mean to Hope?

What does it mean to hope?I Hope button

For some, it’s the thought of building a dream home, or perhaps it’s anticipating an acceptance letter to your son or daughter’s first-choice college. It might be hoping for sunshine on a special day.

For others, it means knowing you’ll have a warm meal tonight, the resources to afford a new coat or warm pair of boots for your child this winter, or having somewhere to call after the storm hits.

This summer, many found themselves in hope of assistance when an unprecedented windstorm damaged countless homes, uprooted trees, and changed the landscape of the Lakes Area forever.

Last week, we launched our fall campaign, simply titled “I Hope.” We want you to know that you can make a difference for your neighbors in the Lakes Area, like Patti.

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Photo credit: Biff Ulm

Patti never imagined she would look to a nonprofit organization for assistance. But the evening of July 12th changed her life—and perspective—forever. With 90 mph straight-line winds and even stronger gusts, Patti lost between 60 and 70 percent of the trees at her home on the north side of North Long Lake. It was both a physical and emotional loss for Patti, as trees that dated back over 100 years were one of the favorite things about her property.

 “I used to lay outside and look up at those trees. They made such beautiful sounds. When I first saw the damage, I just started crying. I know I didn’t get the absolute worst of it and there were others who had much worse. But it was horrendous.”

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Photo credit: Biff Ulm

 As a widow, Patti was at a loss as to how she would afford to safely clear the trees that once towered 80 feet above her home. That’s when a neighbor suggested she call Bridges of Hope for assistance. Within days, a crew of volunteers and equipment arrived at Patti’s house and worked tirelessly to get things back in order.

Patti had this to say about Bridges of Hope and the volunteers who helped, “They were a Godsend. It was just a miracle. You talk about what God can do in one day, and I felt that’s what they did for me. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine they could do what they did in one day.”

In the days and weeks following the storm, Bridges of Hope worked with over 140 Lakes Area households who had been directly impacted by the storm. We are so grateful for the incredible support during that time that enabled us to respond to these needs in addition to our typical services.

You are the reason we exist and are able to extend the love and grace of God to more than 2,500 households annually. Today, we ask you to support our work with more than 300 households who will reach out to Bridges still this year. When you make a gift to our “I Hope” campaign, you make it possible for us to serve your friends, family, and neighbors in the Lakes Area during their time of need.

During this time of year, synonymous with giving, you can help us reach our $60,000 goal from now until December 31st, and make a real difference in the lives of individuals just like you and me. Give to the Max Day is on Thursday November 12th. For your convenience, you can schedule your donation ahead of time!

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Thank you for helping us build Bridges & bring HOPE to the Lakes Area! 

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Storm Response: Proud of our Community!

Many of our neighbors were hit by the storm that produced up to 90 MPH straight line winds on July 12th. While some of us had just a few tree branches to rake up, others are currently living in homes with a tarp of the roof, and at least three homeowners have homes that were considered total losses.tree on cartree down

Bridges of Hope is proud to be participating in a still ongoing effort to care for those in our community who were impacted by this storm. In the days following the storm, we participated in twice daily briefings at the Relief Center at Timberwood Church along with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department, Highway Department & Community Services teams, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Nisswa Chamber, Minnesota Power, Crow Wing Power, Lutheran Social Services, multiple disaster response teams, and many others.

Many of the folks at these briefings had experience significant damage to their own properties, yet they still showed up each day to coordinate the response for the entire community. It was incredibly moving to see the care for our community that was demonstrated by all involved.

Early on, the Initiative Foundation, Crow Wing Power, individuals, and multiple churches stepped up with donations to the Storm Response Fund – – THANK YOU!

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People experienced power outages that lasted several days, and some up to a week. This, coupled with significant property damage, caused extreme stress for many of our neighbors. While our agency partners were attending to immediate needs such as serving meals and distributing water at the Relief Center, Bridges of Hope heard from more than 140 households impacted by the storm. 

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Volunteers from AmeriCorps

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 emergent tree removal and yard clean-up need. At least 38 of those had their needs met by these relief groups while some resolved their own situations or were referred to professional services.

After a week without power and the stress of storm clean up, a number of households also sought assistance from Bridges for mental health concerns, food, and other issues. We worked as quickly as possible to provide referrals and assistance in these situations. We will continue to work with those affected by the storm in the coming weeks. We know that with the huge impact this storm had on our local resorts and other businesses, some of you may have experienced lost wages or other issues.

If you or someone you know were impacted by the storm and need assistance, please call Bridges of Hope at 218-825-7682 and a staff will speak with you about your situation.

We want to take this time to say a special thank you to the following businesses and churches who partnered with us to feed volunteers for the past three weeks! 

  • Salvation Army
  • Church members at Trinity, Lord of Life, and Timberwood.
  • Nisswa Chamber who coordinated donated meals from: Raffterty’s in Nisswa, Wendy’s in Nisswa, Prairie Bay, Nisswa Legion, and Zorbaz.
  • Mid-MN Federal Credit Union
  • Donors to the Bridges of Hope Storm Relief Fund

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We’ve seen many messages of thanks over the past three weeks (here is one example from Tom & Marlene who were affected by the storm).

On behalf of the staff & board at Bridges of Hope, I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to everyone involved in the storm relief effort. We are truly grateful to be a part of this community!

Common Goods Now Open in Crosslake!

It’s been quite exciting and busy around here at Bridges of Hope!  In case you haven’t heard, we are officially open for business at our new Common Goods location in Crosslake! We have amazing staff who are working hard to get the space fully up & running (we were able to get into the space just yesterday). We took our first donation (also yesterday), and I literally JUST received a call from our Retail Manager, Nate, stating we’ve made our first sale TODAY!FrontofStorewithtempbanner

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As you can see in the picture, there’s still a lot of work to be done (painting among other things), so bear with us as we continue to transform the space into a unique, trendy thrift store. We are thrilled to be able to offer good quality items to the Crosslake area AND we are proud to say– all proceeds stay local and help fund the unique programming at Bridges of Hope!
CommonGoodsSupportsBoHHere are the details:

  • Store Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm & Sunday 12pm-5pm
  • Physical Address: 35562 Co Rd 66, Crosslake, MN
  • Phone #: 218-692-7682 (phones should be up & running by tomorrow)

So come on in, excuse the organized chaos, shop, and chat with one of our staff. We would love to share more with you about how donating, shopping & volunteering at Common Goods makes a difference in this community.

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For more information on our donation guidelines & other general information; check out our recent blog post: Summer Donations at Common Goods and visit our website.

(And stay tuned–we’ll be sure to share more about our progress on our Facebook page!)

 

 

Summer Donations at Common Goods

garagesale-640x391Summer time is upon us which means two things at Common GoodsGarage sale season and increased donations. Because of this, I have a couple of questions to ask you:

  • Do you have great items just sitting around that you no longer have any use for?
  • Have you recently had a garage sale or plan on having one in the near future?

If so, we may be able to help you out with some of your left over treasures! If you have items that you feel may be a good fit, we invite you to call us at 218-824-0923 or visit us at 16227 Hwy 371 N Brainerd, MN next to Dondelinger Chevrolet. We suggest you call the store to verify that we are currently accepting items and to see what our greatest needs currently are. Under most circumstances we receive donations until 5:30 pm daily. However, there are times that we have to temporarily stop receiving items due to the amount of generous donations we receive. At Common Goods we have discovered that it is in our best operating practice to only accept what we can process in one working day. If you have a large amount of items to donate we ask that you call ahead to schedule a time to donate them. The call allows us to plan ahead to prepare for the increased amount of processing that will occur.

Here is a general guideline of the items that we typically can and cannot utilize for the families we serve:

Items that we can best utilize to generate revenue to serve families:
  • Quality furniture pieces with no tares, stains or faded
  • Newer home decor pieces
  • New or gently used clothing & footwear
  • Dish or glass sets for a place setting of 4+
  • Reading books in new like condition

Items that we typically CANNOT accept to generate revenue to serve families:

  • Seasonal or holiday items 3+ months before the season
  • Large exercise equipment
  • Individual glasses, mugs, dishes
  • TV’s, computers and stereo equipment
  • Stuffed animals
  • High chairs or strollers
  • Furniture that is stained, faded or ripped

For more information on our donation guidelines, please visit our website.

We would like to thank all of our generous donors and shoppers for their loyal support over the past five years. Without your support it would not be possible to do the work we do and serve households in the Brainerd Lakes Area. So again, thank you!

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Summer Store Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day):

Monday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm & Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm. We hope to see you soon!

Inspiring Hope

I have the awesome privilege to work for an agency that I love and in a role that is a perfect fit for me. I am an Outreach Worker at Bridges of Hope and I provide in-home support to families that are in complex and challenging situations.

inspire hopeRecently, I worked with a family that struggled with chemical dependency issues, domestic violence, mental health struggles, and financial barriers. Prior to Bridges of Hope’s involvement, Anna and Jacob (names changed for anonymity) were not actively working with any area providers. When I first met Anna, Jacob, and their children, it was apparent that they were all skeptical of me…and who wouldn’t be!? I am a stranger to them and they have demonstrated resilience and fortitude already for decades of their lives. I get it. It’s scary and overwhelming to put your trust into someone that you don’t know, and who am I to receive that trust? Yet, incredibly, that is just what they did. This family allowed me to walk alongside of them for several weeks as we worked together to build bridges of support; and not only were they part of building those bridges, but they courageously walked across them as well. 

One of Anna and Jacob’s biggest strengths was their desire for the betterment of their family and the well-being of their children. Though we all want what’s best, it takes a very strong couple to recognize that “wanting” something is not always enough. Loving someone is not always enough, either: often we don’t have the tools, resources, and skills to improve our situation. Anna and Jacob worked on their relationship, their communication with their children, setting appropriate boundaries, and collaborating with the school and other providers. I was honored to be a support for them as they did this. It was not always an easy process, as learned behaviors and unhealthy habits have a way of creeping back into our daily routines, but they stuck with it. My role was to teach the family new skills, hold them accountable, and be a cheerleader for their incredible successes…and what an awesome success they are! Anna & Jacob are now receiving therapy, chemical dependency support, school support for their children, and are successfully paying for their household expenses after obtaining employment. The families I work with are the true inspirations.

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If you or someone you know could benefit from support from Bridges of Hope, call 218.825.7682 or visit our website for more information.