Andrew’s Moment

Andrew, a single father, had been unemployed for about four months, and the utility bills had begun to pile up. He connected with Bridges of Hope after his church had assisted him several times with food and his rent. The social ministry worker at Andrew’s church made the first phone call to Bridges, concerned that they would no longer be able to support Andrew financially, and our staff explained our Financial Resources Program, recommending that Andrew call right away.

Church SteepleWe also talked with the social ministry worker about how Bridges was created to assist churches when someone contacts them with  a financial crisis, since Bridges of Hope specializes in knowing about all of the local community resources and how to access them. They were relieved to learn that churches can refer both parishoners and non-parishioners to Bridges of Hope, since our role in the community is to assist with exactly these kinds of scenarios. Churches can even stay connected with Bridges about the outcome of the situation (if we have obtained a Release of Information from the person to share their information).

Andrew called that same day, and during his initial conversation with our staff, he indicated he was also out of food for his 8-year-old son’s beloved cat. We connected Andrew to an animal Food Shelf that provided him with a small supply of pet food while we worked with Andrew on his other concerns.

During that first conversation, the Bridges of Hope staff quickly realized there were a few complex pieces to Andrew’s financial puzzle, so she scheduled a meeting to sit down with Andrew and thoroughly explore his current financial situation. In particular, Andrew disclosed that a disability was causing a major barrier to his re-employment. Because he was under 200% of the federal poverty guideline, Andrew was eligible for several assistance programs, but both he and his church had been unaware of their existence prior to connecting with Bridges of Hope.

After that, we helped Andrew connect with Lutheran Social Service‘s Energy Assistance program for help with his utility bills and with County Income Maintenance for food support. We also helped Andrew access the Salvation Army food shelf and AngelFood Ministries for additional food resources while his applications were processing and connected him with the Disability Linkage Line for further support with his ongoing barrier to employment.

It was clear that it might take Andrew some time before he was able to return to work, so the Bridges staff recommended that Andrew look at moving to a lower-cost apartment, which would allow him to pay for all of his household needs on an ongoing basis. Andrew was provided with information about subsidized housing and was connected to the key person who could expedite his application, given some of the specific circumstances of Andrew’s situation.

Since then, Andrew has moved into a subsidized apartment with his son and has been able to maintain his bills. During a follow-up call to see how things were going, Andrew stated, “I can’t thank you enough. I felt like I was going nowhere with no real solutions. But you knew exactly what I needed and connected me to the right people. I’m going to pray tonight that God blesses you!”

If you or someone you know is struggling financially, contact Bridges of Hope for assistance finding and navigating the resources in the Lakes Area. If you are a local church wondering about how you and Bridges can work together to better serve families in our community, contact Jana Shogren, our Executive Director at 218.825.7682.

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Photo by Bill Longshaw

Michelle’s Moment

Michelle calls Joshua her miracle baby. After a devastating car accident two years ago that had also left Michelle unable to work, doctors had said it just was not possible for her to have children. But Joshua’s arrival last winter proved them all wrong.

Stroller

Though unable to work, the new mom actively volunteered at a local ministry program through her church. Michelle owned a van specially equipped for her disability, but various maintenance needs had gone unrepaired until the van was finally not driveable–Michelle’s disability income simply would not stretch far enough. To continue to attend her regular monthly appointments and volunteering, Michelle had been using public transportation whenever she could and was simply taking Joshua out in a stroller the rest of the time.

As the days became cooler and she battled a recurring bout of bronchitis, Michelle knew it was finally time to ask for help. Michelle went to her church first, and because they give to the Spirit of Kindness Fund,* the social ministry leader called Bridges of Hope. The van was in need of several different repairs, and Bridges of Hope was able to partner with the Salvation Army for most of them. In the meantime, Michelle’s church had a connection to a local mechanic who offered a free estimate and who even donated a tank of gas to Michelle. Michelle also took responsibility for what she could by working out a payment plan with a local business to pay for one of the specialized repairs. Because local resources came together to support Michelle and Joshua, they now have a working van, ready just in time for winter.

Click here to support families like Michelle & Joshua this season.

*Spirit of Kindness is a collaborative benevolent fund administered by Bridges of Hope. Many area churches donate to the fund, and any church can refer someone in crisis to Bridges of Hope for intake, screening and referrals. When local resources are exhausted, Bridges of Hope can utilize the funds to assist the family.