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.

—————————————————————-

You Can “Pay it Forward,” Too

Advertisements

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.

One step forward…and another step back.

In this job we celebrate a lot of successes–both small and large–with the families we work with. However, the reality in life (for our clients and ourselves) is that sometimes, with each step forward, we are forced to take one or two steps back.

Brick Wall with Woman on GroundIt can be very frustrating for the teens I work with through our Teen Parent Outreach Program at Bridges of Hope: when they are trying to make a better life for themselves and their children, at times it seems that they run into wall after wall (or in social work jargon, “barrier after barrier”) that just stops them dead in their tracks. Luckily, more often than not, the teens I work with are very resilient and keep trying to push forward despite the difficulties. For example:

Erin is 18 and has a son, Derek, who is 11 months old. When I first met Erin, she was going to high school, was on track to graduate, and was planning on starting college in the spring (one step forward), but there was no room for her to start until the fall (one step back). At that time she was living with her dad and brother, and she found out she was going to get into housing of her own (step forward). Two weeks before she was set to move in, she found out that the previous tenant would not be moving after all (step back). Shortly after that, her family was forced to vacate the apartment where they were living, and her dad and brother moved out of town, leaving Erin alone with Derek (step back). Thankfully Erin was able to live with a friend and found a job (step forward). She began to receive some child support, and with her job, she was able to stop receiving county cash assistance (step forward). Then, her hours at work were cut and the child support stopped too (step back). Erin decided to look for more work (step forward). She is limited to where she can search because she does not have a driver’s license or a vehicle (step back). She was able to obtain a bike and a carrier for Derek (step forward). Shortly after obtaining her bike, the wheel on the carrier popped and she does not have the money to fix it (step back).

And on and on it goes for so many of the families we work with–sadly, this is the day-to-day reality for many living in our community. I see it as my job to help walk alongside and celebrate the successes, as well as provide encouragement during those (sometimes difficult to swallow) steps back.

Happily, Erin is once again on the “step forward” track: she recently obtained housing of her own, is still looking for a second job, and she continues to push forward to provide for Derek. And no matter what, I’ll be there to support her in in her journey.

Dustin & Ashley’s Moment

Ashley and Dustin are a married couple with two children. The family has been struggling to make ends meet for quite a while. So often, when families live in poverty, it is extremely difficult to get ahead. For this family, and for many families living in poverty, the saying “when it rains it pours” was completely accurate.

Ashley contacted BridgHere_comes_rain_againes of Hope in April looking for help with rent. Neither Ashley nor Dustin had employment which means it is hard for agencies to assist because it is difficult to show that the rent is sustainable. I encouraged the couple to obtain employment and, once their situation changed and income increased, to call back.

Ashley called back, less than a month later: she and Dustin had both found jobs! They needed help with gas for their first week of work and also with childcare for their youngest child. Bridges of Hope was able to help with gas through our Spirit of Kindness Fund and with childcare through our Crisis Nursery Services. Ashley & Dustin were now able to complete their first week of work successfully!

Next, I had Ashley fill out a full intake so I could take a look at their whole situation. I discovered that the couple did not have car insurance; Ashley stated that the reason they didn’t pay the insurance was because, if they did, they wouldn’t have enough money to afford food for their family. I started to look outside the box to see what could be done to best help the family. It was decided that Bridges would get them caught up on car insurance to prevent any further crisis & expense that could come from driving without insurance.

Due to the hard work from this family, and the fact that they were willing to do each thing I had asked, Bridges of Hope helped them catch up on their past due rent. Now they were able to start fresh without any past due bills. The family was very thankful for all of the help they received and continue to work hard to provide for their family.

Thanks to the support we receive from local churches for our Spirit of Kindness Fund and our Resource Connection Services, we are able to help families like Dustin & Ashley’s with a fresh start.

You can support these services too by:

Thank you for helping us build Bridges!