Diane’s Moment of Hope

[Note: Diane graciously allowed us to use her real name and details. Diane: thank you for your courage and generosity!]

It has been 27 years since Diane made the life-changing decision to become, and remain, clean and sober. However, despite overcoming this huge obstacle, she continued to fight demons and encounter issues that tested her faith over all those years.

Having been raised in the Aitkin area, Diane relocated to the Twin Cities area where she tackled her addictions with the help of a mentor. She was also able to get the help that enabled her to return to school and accept a job working for a non-profit food bank.

In 2000, Diane returned to her childhood home to care for her aging mother, as well as help raise her grandsons. During that time, Diane struggled with depression that worsened with each new year. Jobs also came and went over the years, adding insult to injury.

In 2016, Diane’s daughter was being released from prison and needed a ride back home. However, Diane’s car was in dire need of repairs and she couldn’t afford the insurance to legally get back on the road. Diane also acknowledged that her daughter would need clothes that fit since she was coming home to, literally, nothing.engine-repair-rebuild

It was at that point Diane reached out to Bridges of Hope and connected with Resource Specialist Nicholle Dean.

“I took a leap of faith with Bridges of Hope,” she said. “I called for my daughter’s sake; but, while talking to Nicholle, I ended up breaking down. I’m not typically prideful. But is there pride in not asking for help? I learned that when you truly need help, you just need to swallow that pride. And it was very hard. But I can’t express enough how much Nicholle took me in and told me what I needed to do to help myself and allow them to help me. She held me accountable.”

Nicholle said after she and Diane talked, she was able to connect her to a variety of resources available for her particular situation, including securing additional funding from St James Church in Aitkin and Pine Lake United Methodist Church. Together, Nicholle and Diane also worked through budgeting and sustainability planning for the future.

Because of the help of Bridges of Hope and others, Diane was able to safely pick up her daughter and now has car insurance in place.

“Swallow that pride,” Diane encourages others who need help. “You know, ask the questions you need. But be okay with ‘no.’ Not everybody can help you or answer your questions, but somebody, somewhere along the way, can and will. They will find the resources you need. I never thought I would be able to get the repairs and insurance. So this was a big relief off my shoulders. Keep an open mind. I am so grateful. There’s always help and hope. God will provide.”


If you or someone you know is in need of assistance working through a tough life situation, please call our office and speak with one of our staff members about it: 218.825.7682.

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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!

 

Baptism by Fire

THolmesIHopeStarting a new job always comes with ‘first day jitters.’ However, Brainerd’s newest Fire Chief had a baptism by fire – no pun intended.

Tim Holmes’ first day on the job was July 13, 2015 – the morning after a devastating windstorm blew through the Lakes Area – changing the landscape, and countless lives, forever. There was no coffee and donut welcome social. Holmes’ immediately snapped into action, knowing the challenges and hardships being experienced by thousands of residents throughout his service area.

“My family had been out for dinner the night before,” Holmes recounted. “When the storm blew through, we started for home knowing I would be needed to assist with the devastation. But when we drove north along Highway 371, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Trees and power lines covered the roadway. Rooflines were shrouded by limbs. It’s certainly something I’ll never forget.”

After getting his family home safely, Holmes went to work as a volunteer with the Nisswa Fire Department. The crew spent hours making paths down impassable streets and assessed the situation to ensure there were no injuries. After only a quick night’s rest, Holmes switched hats and reported to work on Monday morning as the Brainerd Fire Chief.

tree down With much of a devastation lying within the Brainerd Fire Department’s service area, Holmes was one of several emergency management personnel who reported to the staging site at Timberwood Church in Nisswa. Together, with organizations and critical service providers throughout the area, the group strategized and quickly formulated a plan to help those in need. One of the partners at the table was Bridges of Hope – standing at the ready to help storm victims.

tree on car“Having lived in the area for some time, I had heard of Bridges of Hope; but I guess I never fully grasped the scope and reach of the organization. It didn’t take long that first day to understand how incredibly instrumental they are. Jana and her team were quick on their feet and eager to step in wherever needed. They remained right along side the first responders and emergency service workers to provide food, water and assistance to thousands of individuals who lost so much to the storm. They worked closely with emergency management to coordinate volunteer groups – providing assistance with everything from tree removal to mental health needs assessments.

Over a span of two weeks, Bridges of Hope worked with more that 140 households whose lives were impacted by the storm.

“I sincerely hope this area never again experiences devastation like we did in July; but I am proud to say I serve in a community that has amazing resources and caring individuals like those at Bridges of Hope who, regardless of the situation, stand ready to selflessly serve others.”

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You can ensure that Bridges of Hope’s services are available when the “storms of life” hit. Please help us reach our goal to raise $60,000 by year-end and share hope with the 300 householdI Hope buttons who will reach out to Bridges of Hope still this year. 

As of 11/16/15, we are just over $9,500–thank you!

Click here to make an online gift or your can  mail a check to PO Box 742, Brainerd, MN 56401. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible and will provide HOPE this holiday season.

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!

Storm 2015 Relief Efforts & Resource Updates

[Last updated: 7/28/15]

Bridges of Hope is helping to coordinate some of the relief efforts following the major storm that hit the Lakes Area on 7/12/15. We will be doing our best to keep this post updated regularly during the clean-up process.

Please call our office if you need help at 218.825.7682. We are a ‘small but mighty’ staff and will do our best to connect you with resources. Office hours are 8:00 am-4:30 pm, Monday-Thursday, and 8:00 am-2:00pm on Friday. Volunteer groups (for tree removal) are here through Friday, July 31 and currently have full assignments for the week. We can put your name on a waiting list but unfortunately cannot guarantee that we will find volunteers to assist you.
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If you are able to help financially, you can make a donation to Bridges of Hope to help us serve our neighbors affected by the storm. The Initiative Foundation is matching all donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000! This fund will help us in our efforts to coordinate the immediate needs, and will also enable us to assist with longer-term needs (rent & utilities assistance for those who missed work following the storm, for example). Click here to give now. Your gift is 100% tax-deductible. As of 2:25 PM on 7/28/15, donations have reached $5,739!

News About the Storm:

Someone to Talk To:

  • Volunteers (pastors, social workers, and others) are available if you need someone to talk to as you process through all that has happened (for your emotional/mental health). Call Bridges of Hope at 218.825.7682 to get that set up.

Volunteer Groups Offering/Seeking Help:

  • Volunteers are needed for debris haul-away (own hauling equipment needed). Call our office if you are able to assist with this (218.825.7682).

Burning Storm Debris & Burning Permits:

  • From the MN DNR Website: You need an open burning permit:
    • when the fire is more than 3 feet high and 3 feet in diameter.
    • when the ground is not completely covered by a minimum of 3 inches of snow.
    • when the fire is not contained in either an approved burner or in a cooking or heating device such as charcoal grill or camp stove.
    • Check their website for details on where to obtain a burning permit.

Storm Debris Drop-Off Locations:

  • Crow Wing County Landfill: debris & branches are free; fee for stumps. Open 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday, on 15732 Hwy 210. Extended hours for just tree & debris drop-off, 5:00-8:00 pm.
  • Baxter City Hall: for Baxter residents ONLY. Call 218.454.5100 for more information.
  • Cass County: approximately 1/4 mile south of County Roads 18 & 77; turn on the road for the Pine Beach Waste Water center. There is a sign posted that says “Residential Brush.” Approximate address: 11800 County Road 45, Brainerd, MN 56401. (Trees & brush only.)
  • Cass County: Knife River Gravel Pit, on the north side of County Road 15. (Address unknown.)

Other Information:

It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child

radiothon logoEach December, BL Broadcasting collaborates with local Child Protection Teams in our area to bring awareness to and raise funds for Child Abuse Prevention. The public service announcements during the on-air event state, “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.” How true.

Child abuse is difficult to think about, but we need to think about it and we need to create a community where parents are supported and children are nurtured.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month, another time of year to bring awareness to the struggles parents and children in our community are facing. It’s a time to shine a light on the good work being done to strengthen families.

Here at Bridges of Hope, we are proud to partner with Crow Wing County in a state-wide program called Parent Support Outreach Program (PSOP). This is a voluntary program for families to engage in when the want to stabilize their struggles with basic needs and strengthen their parenting skills. Click here to read about how the PSOP program helped Cindy and her family.

biracial childrenAnother service in our community that aims to support parents and reduce child abuse & neglect is Crisis Nursery Services, which is free, short-term crisis childcare for children 0-12 in Crow Wing County and the surrounding areas. The goal of the Crisis Nursery is to provide a safe place for children during a family crisis like Kendra & her children experienced.

Crisis Nursery is made possible through the Crow Wing County Child Protection Team with funds that YOU donate during the Radiothon to End Child Abuse. THANK YOU!

As community members, there are many things we can do to support families around us. Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota makes the following suggestions about what to do if you see a parent who is “on edge” in public:

  • Divert the adult’s attention.
  • Start a conversation with the adult. Offer sympathy. For example, you could say, “Shopping with children can really try your patience, can’t it?” Talk to the child.
  • If the child is acting out or misbehaving, start a friendly conversation to distract him or her.
  • Praise the parent or child.
  • Find something positive to say about the child or the parent. For example, “That’s a pretty dress your daughter is wearing. Where did you get it?”
  • Offer to help.
  • For example, if a child has been left unattended in a grocery cart, stay near him or her until a caretaker returns.
  • Avoid negative looks or comments.This may only increase the adult’s anger, making things worse for the child.

There are many preventative efforts happening in our community, however it is important to state that if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected in our area, you should contact Crow Wing County Social Services at 218-824-1140. 

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, please take a moment to enrich the life of a child in your life and support the parents around you. It really does take a village to raise a child!

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