Nichole’s Moment

A survivor of domestic violence, Nichole describes her experience working with Bridges of Hope over the course of a few years, and particularly in the Side by Side mentoring program.

Today, Nichole works for Wadena County Human Services. Her hope is that more education and awareness about domestic violence and its effects will be shared throughout our community.


During our Fall Campaign, Bridges of Hope is seeking to raise $60,000 from the community to help us serve over 300 households by December 31. Thanks to our generous past supporters, Bridges was there for Nichole when she needed additional support for herself and her family. Will you help make a difference for someone just like Nichole this year?

Click here to make a gift today. And thank you – you are truly the reason we are able to extend hope to others.

A special thanks to Justin DeZurik, who created this video.

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.

 

She is Clothed with Strength and Dignity…

Defeated…worn out…confused. These are some of the words that Cindy used to describe herself and her situation when I first met her. Cindy is a young mom with three small children: Luke, Isabelle, and Nicholas. When she first started working with me, she and her children were homeless and living in a shelter. Cindy was a victim of domestic abuse and made the choice to leave her relationship to make a better life for her and her children, but it wasn’t easy, and she faced many challenges along the way. Not only did Cindy lack stable housing, but her children were displaying some concerning behaviors. One of her sons was becoming more defiant, the other was often sad and reclusive, and her daughter struggled with outbursts and tantrums. To make matters worse, Cindy had many financial concerns due to limited financial resources. Thankfully, she was referred to Bridges of Hope at just the right time.

three-siblings1I worked with Cindy through the Parent Support Outreach Program for three months and met with her weekly to provide resources, guidance, and support. Though Cindy felt scared and overwhelmed, she continued to work hard to do everything she could to improve her situation. While participating in this program, Cindy was connected with county assistance, where she accessed childcare services, food support, and some financial assistance. She also attended financial counseling through Lutheran Social Service, which helped her prioritize her expenses and get a handle on her debt. She was already enrolled in classes at Central Lakes College, and she was able to reduce her course load to something more manageable. I was able to help Cindy connect with in-home counseling services to help her children work through the trauma and life changes they had experienced in such a short time, and she was eager to make the first appointment. Cindy’s strength and perseverance paid off. She found housing, and Bridges of Hope was able to assist her with the deposit she needed to move in. Cindy was also connected with Salem WEST to provide her with furniture and household items for her new home, and Cindy was thrilled!

Cindy is an amazing woman who has faced many significant challenges, but with the right supports and resources and a whole lot of resilience and determination, Cindy made huge changes for herself and her children. Her entire face lights up when she talks about her home, and I’ve seen more smiles on the faces of her kids since they’ve had a place to call their own.

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Help Bridges of Hope continue to be able to be there for other families like Cindy’s this year: make a donation today!

Brenda’s Moment

Brenda had been in an abusive relationship from the time when she was a teenager, and she was convinced that she could not support her children without her husband.

MuffinsShe had no self-esteem and no job skills: the only gift she felt she had was baking, and that was what enabled her, in her words, to “keep her sanity”–she confided that it gave her something to do to take her mind off of her “unhappy life.” Just in her mid-30s, Brenda certainly had her hands full with five children: Waylon (age 14), Twyla (age 12), Sissey (age 10), and twins Orley & Oscar (age 8). She was referred to work with me through our Intensive In-Home program, which is one of Bridges of Hope’s Family Support Services.

Brenda told me that the way she justified staying in the relationship was by knowing that Tom had never hit the children–only her. She reasoned that she could take it, as long as he did not hurt the children. But then one day Tom came home from work, extremely angry, and everyone knew to stay away from him. When Brenda put the dinner on the table, Tom threw it on the floor and raised his hand to hit her. Waylon grabbed Tom’s arm and said that he would not allow Tom to hurt his mom anymore. That night Waylon got a beating.

The next day the children did not come home on the bus after school, and a social worker came by the house and said that the children would not be returning home (they had been placed in foster care for their safety).

This was the turning point for Brenda. She knew she could not continue living this kind of life, so she left Tom and went to a local women’s shelter, where she stayed for a few months. During that time, the shelter staff helped her understand the nature of abuse and gave her the support she needed not to go back to the abusive situation.

That’s when Brenda was connected with Bridges of Hope. The goal of our work together was to help her with parenting and resources to get her on her feet and enable her kids to return. I was able to connect Brenda to Lutheran Social Service’s HOPE Housing program, and she was able to find income-based housing within about three months. I also connected her with the Workforce Center, and with their help, Brenda found a full-time-seasonal job at a nearby resort as a baker’s assistant–but by the end of the summer she had been promoted and hired year-round! We also got Brenda connected with a counselor for herself and her family at Northern Pines Mental Health Center.

Within about four months, Brenda and her children were able to be reunited, and she began implementing the Love and Logic parenting techniques that she had worked on with me during our in-home work together. The best part was that Brenda had worked so hard, had gained many skills along the way, and now felt confident that she would be able to raise her children on her own.

Today, Brenda feels that her life is finally her own, and she wants to “pay it forward,” aspiring to someday open her own business and help train women who do not have the skills (or who feel like they don’t have the skills) to make it on their own.

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You Can “Pay it Forward,” Too

Maggie’s Moment

Maggie is a 34-year-old single mother with a 9-year-old daughter named Yasmin. Maggie had been referred to one of Bridges of Hope’s Family Support Services programs, and I first met her at a local domestic violence shelter. Maggie wanted support during her transition from an abusive relationship to an independent, safe life for her and Yasmin.

Over three months of working together, Maggie and I met each week, and together we set several goals. The first was to find permanent housing so I connected Maggie to LSS HOPE Housing, and after three months of living at the shelter, she enrolled in a transitional housing program. This gave her the opportunity to live in temporary, affordable housing owned by LSS until she was able to locate permanent affordable, housing. It was a good in-between step for Maggie.

homeworkAnother goal set by Maggie was to address her daughter’s school performance; especially in the area of homework. With the challenges Yasmin and Maggie had been facing, Maggie was at a loss for how to help her daughter with school work. Maggie and I talked through several techniques and I encouraged her to try one at a time until they found something that worked. After about a month of trying new things, Maggie was happy to to tell me that Yasmin was keeping up with her homework and doing much better in school!

cookbook-color1Maggie also wanted to learn to be a better cook, as her ex-husband had done most of the cooking. That was a simple enough goal to work on together! We gave Maggie a couple of family-friendly cookbooks that had been donated to the organization and helped her enroll in a cooking classes through University of Minnesota Extension and she learned to prepare healthy meals on a modest budget.

Maggie started out this process clearly suffering from severe depression and anxiety, and often put herself down. As Maggie worked on each of these steps in the process, it was clear that her self-esteem, confidence and overall mental health was improving!

Maggie exited services a stronger person and recently shared, “when I first started working with Bridges of Hope, I thought things were a lot worse than they were. Working with you helped me see things in a different perspective.”

Please contact Bridges of Hope if you or someone you know is facing a challenging situation. We can be reached at (218)825-7682.

Thank you for helping us build Bridges!

Kendra’s Moment

Kendra was out of options. She had moved into an apartment in the Lakes Area after leaving her home community–and having to sever all her ties to friends and family–due to a domestic violence situation. She had fled shortly after learning she was pregnant with her third child and had since found a part-time job, established regular childcare, joined a parenting support group, and was on her way to mapping out a new life. But finding new friendships in a new community was happening slower than she thought it would; and now, nine months pregnant, there were times Kendra still felt very much alone in the world.

And then one day, on a Thursday afternoon, she went into labor.

Baby Boy

Image by Clare Bloomfield: http://bit.ly/clareportfolio

About a half-hour before closing time, Bridges of Hope received a phone call from Mary, a social worker at a local hospital. Mary explained that she had been called in by Kendra’s nurses, because Kendra had recently been admitted and was in active labor–but her two other children, ages 2 and 4, were there with her. Mary had learned that when the labor started, Kendra tried calling a few acquaintances from the parenting group, but no one was available, and not knowing what else she could do, Kendra brought her kids with her.

This was a perfect situation for Crisis Nursery. The Bridges of Hope staff spoke with Kendra over the phone and explained how the program works. She then began calling our trained Crisis Nursery providers and quickly located an available provider who could pick up the children from the hospital–all within twenty minutes of Mary’s phone call. The children would be cared for in Crisis Nursery for 48 hours until Kendra could leave the hospital, putting both Mary and Kendra at ease. Two days later, Kendra brought her new baby boy home to meet his older siblings.

Crisis Nursery Services Logo

Crisis Nursery Services

Crisis Nursery is a free, short-term childcare option for parents of children ages 0-12 when there are no other available childcare resources. This program is funded by a grant from the Children’s Trust Fund and is a partnership between Bridges and Crow Wing County Community Services. The Crisis Nursery has more funding available in 2011 than it did in 2010; if you or someone you know is in a childcare crisis, please call Bridges of Hope at 218.825.7682 and speak to a Family Service Worker about your situation or click here for additional details.

Rochelle’s Moment

RachealRochelle is a single mom of three boys, ages one, two and four. She called Bridges of Hope after hitting rock bottom mentally and emotionally. She had ended up at a local shelter after fleeing from years of abuse at the hands of her husband, who was in another state. Rochelle knew her decision to leave her husband was the right one, but it was still hard for her. She had been suffering from depression for years; and now, homeless and facing the daunting task of being a single parent to three children all under the age of five, she was feeling tremendously stressed and overwhelmed.

That’s when Rochelle called Bridges of Hope, explaining to the staff that she knew she needed to get her mental health under control before she could even begin to rebuild her life. Bridges of Hope was able to find a counselor who specialized in parenting and stress management as well as with survivors of domestic violence. Rochelle was set up with an immediate counseling appointment, and the Bridges staff simultaneously set up Crisis Nursery childcare for the children, so Rochelle could attend the appointment.

After her initial appointment, a Bridges staff followed up with Rochelle, who reported that the counseling appointment went really well and that she planned to continue to see the counselor. Bridges of Hope was able to set up Crisis Nursery a few more times during Rochelle’s subsequent counseling appointments; and now, a few months later, Rochelle has been able to move into her own place and has gotten a job at local retailer. She has been able to set up regular childcare and continues to move forward with her mental health.

Are you or someone you care about looking for the same kind of support that Rochelle needed? Bridges of Hope maintains a comprehensive database of our area therapists and their specialties. Click here to learn more.