Sara Jo’s Moment

Sara Jo is a single parent of two school-age girls. She had recently been divorced and was living with her mother, something she never thought she would do again, since moving out after high school. Although she appreciated her mother’s willingness to take her and the girls in, Sara Jo knew that she and her girls needed more space than what they had–and so did her mom. Tensions were starting to run high some evenings, as the girls and her mother struggled to adjust to the very different energies of each other. Sara Jo was working, though she did not have a car, so she was relying on rides from co-workers to get to work, which was also quickly wearing thin.

After searching for housing online and making some phone calls, Sara Jo had found a modest apartment that was on the bus line, but she was struggling to come up with both the first month’s rent and the damage deposit required for her to be able to move in. The landlord suggested that Sara Jo call Bridges of Hope to find out about area resources to assist her with these costs.

Sara Jo called Bridges of Hope and spoke with one of our staff, who assessed her situation to see what community resources she would qualify for. We connected her to Lutheran Social Service for assistance, since we could see from Sara Jo’s budget that she would be able to afford the rent and the rest of her ongoing monthly expenses once she was over this hurdle. Sara Jo saved up to pay for the damage deposit for the new place, and Lutheran Social Service was able to cover the cost of the first month’s rent. Bridges then was able to connect Sara Jo with Salem WEST for some much-needed furniture and other household items.

Sara Jo was able to move in to her new place with her girls, and a few weeks later, one of our staff called her to follow-up and make sure things were going okay. Sara Jo said how grateful she was for the assistance and support from Bridges of Hope, and she let us know that she was so happy with the furniture she had received from Salem WEST as well.


If you or someone you know is facing a difficult situation and not sure what to do next, call our office 218.825.7682 and speak with a Resource Specialist. Our staff can assist you in connecting with the area resources and programs that can help you resolve your situation. 

 

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.

Liz’s Moment

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Liz is a 45 year-old with bright green eyes and an infectious personality whose dream was to move out of a group home and into her own place. Liz would call our office almost like clockwork once a month, requesting help with either gas, clothing, or furniture. Each month, we would kindly remind Liz that all of those needs were taken care of for her through living at the group home. Her disability made it difficult for Liz to fully understand why she didn’t need these items, and each time our staff would patiently explain the process she needed to follow first before calling us.

Then one afternoon late last fall Liz called again, and once again I expected to talk to her about why she didn’t need any gas, clothing or furniture yet, but this time, Liz had moving plans! We were thrilled for her. We were able to confirm the details with Liz’s mental health worker, and then things really started to take off. Because we all wanted this move to be successful for Liz, I talked to her about her new responsibilities; such as paying her rent on time, buying groceries for herself, learning new transportation resources, and other details about living on your own. Liz and her mental health worker came up with a list of furniture and household items Liz would need. After all her past requests, we were finally able to say “yes” to Liz!
Moving day arrived, and Liz moved out of the group home and into her own apartment. A few days later, Liz’s donated furniture and household furnishings were dropped off. A month later, my heart sank just a little when I received that familiar monthly call from Liz. I was expecting to hear the worst–that she had lost her rent money, or her furniture wasn’t working out, or something else. But once again, Liz surprised me. She was requesting help with a bus pass. Since Liz doesn’t drive, walking and the bus were her only forms of transportation–and now that we were in the dead of winter, it was just too cold out to walk.sidewalk-goodcondition

At our weekly staff meeting, we discussed the request as a team, and we were able to provide Liz with a bus pass. A couple of weeks later, I followed up with Liz, and she positively gushed about her new life on her own. She was volunteering in the community and had already lost weight from all the walking she was doing. She was so happy!

The next month came and…I never received the familiar call from Liz. And then the next month came, and still no call. When the calls stopped coming, we knew that Liz had made her dream come true.

 

Beat the Heat!

Whether you have air conditioning or not, it can be hard to keep cool during the hot summer months that we all LOVE here in Minnesota! RKK_SAHotWeatherLogo

I try VERY hard not to complain, since we get so few months to enjoy warmth outdoors, but some days (and nights!) the heat and humidity can be almost unbearable.

Maybe you have central air throughout your house, or maybe you don’t have any at all. Maybe you have an air conditioner but want to try use it as little as possible to save on energy costs (I fall into this category), or maybe you have a window unit that only cools certain parts of your home (I also fall into this category).

No matter what your situation, did you know there are ways to beat the heat without even having to turn on the air conditioner?

It’s true! You can simply google “how to stay cool without an air conditioner,” and you’ll find many different lists and tips–some that I had heard of, and others not. Below I’ve compiled a list for you based on the tips that I found the most helpful (and ones that I am most likely to, or already use):

For right now:

1. Close windows & blinds during the day (keeps the sun from causing the temp to creep up inside your home).

2. Open windows at night (if you have a temperature gauge in your house & outside, monitor the temps and as soon as it gets cooler outside than it is inside your house–open up those windows! (but don’t forget about #1!)

3. Get air moving. By putting fans in windows, you can create much needed air movement as well as push some of the warm air back outside. You can even create a homemade “air-conditioner” by putting a pan filled with ice in front of a box fan.

4. Dress down. Wear light weight, light colored, loose fitting clothing.

5. Take a cold/cool shower. This is especially helpful to cool you down before going to bed at night.

6. Start grilling.  Using your oven or stove in the summer will make your house hotter.

7. Stay hydrated. Also avoid caffeine & alcoholic beverages that promote dehydration.

8. Go to a public place. When you really get desperate and need a break from the heat and/or humidity (and have transportation), go to a local business, coffee shop, or library that has air conditioning.

For later:

1. Plant trees in strategic locations to provide shade for your home. Specifically in areas where the sun shines in during the hottest part of the day (while this takes away from some natural light, it also makes a significant impact on the temperature of your home).

2. Install awnings.

3. Install attic insulation. This helps keep cool air from escaping your home.

ice1For the complete lists I found for how to stay cool without AC, visit the following articles:

Make sure to also be aware of signs of heat exhaustion & heat stroke in yourself, children, & pets. Click here for signs to look for in your pets. Let’s enjoy the summer heat by staying cool!

We want to hear your ideas! Comment below or on our Facebook post and include tips you have to beat the heat!

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:

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

CrosslakeStore

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!)

 

 

Gordon and Rhonda’s Moment

Crisis Nursery Services Logo

This year marks the 10th year that Bridges of Hope has been offering Crisis Nursery Services to the Brainerd Lakes Area. Yes, you read right–TEN YEARS! That’s a decade of giving parents a safe childcare option during a family crisis, which translates into thousands of children placed into the loving care of our selfless providers since the start of the program.

So what exactly is Crisis Nursery? It is a safe, positive childcare option for parents that have nowhere else to turn. There are Crisis Nurseries all around the state of Minnesota, and while they all operate a little bit differently, they also all have one thing in common: the goal to keep kids safe while providing stability to parents during a stressful time.

What defines a crisis? A crisis can be a single mom needing a break and not having friends or family who can provide her with that break. It can be a medical issue preventing a parent from caring for their children as they normally do. Or it can be work & medical related, like Gordon & Rhonda’s situation:

Gordon called one afternoon sounding extremely stressed; his voice full of concern. He explained to me that his wife Rhonda recently had had surgery, and during her recovery she had very limiting lifting restrictions. Gordon said that not only was Rhonda unable to do normal, routine tasks; she also wasn’t able to lift their ten-month-old son. Gordon said their family members had been helping out as much as possible, but there was a day coming up when he had to work and no other family members were available to help with childcare. Gordon said it was one of those family members that told him about the Crisis Nursery Services provided by Bridges of Hope.

Ames_3410 Gordon had already taken some time off work and if he missed another shift, he was afraid he would be suspended from his job, so he was wondering if the family could use Crisis Nursery for his ten-month-old son and three-year-old twin daughters while he was at work. Gordon explained that he only needed help for one day, as his mother was coming to stay with them for about a week until Rhonda had recovered enough for her doctor to lift her restrictions. I assured Gordon that this was an appropriate situation for Crisis Nursery Services; and after a few phone calls to various childcare providers, an available provider was located. Gordon let out a HUGE sigh of relief when I told him a provider was available to care for his children.

We always attempt to follow up with parents and providers after they’ve used the Crisis Nursery, to make sure everything went smoothly, see how they are doing, and to make sure the situation has been fully resolved. Almost 90% of parents surveyed report feeling less stressed, thanks to Crisis Nursery Services.This was certainly true for Gordon:

When I followed up with Gordon the day after using Crisis Nursery, he said he was so relieved that he didn’t have to miss another day of work, and he was able to focus at work knowing that his children were in good hands. Gordon said his daughters loved the childcare provider because she was kind, caring, and she had a dog! Gordon expressed his thanks one more time and said he knows where to turn if he is ever in an emergency situation like this again.

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If you or someone you know could benefit from more information about our Crisis Nursery Services, please call 218.825.7682 to speak with one of our Resource Specialists, or visit our website.

Want to help ensure these services remain available for those who need them? Make a donation today!