A Few Numbers, and Many of Your Words

Last year was another record-breaking year at Bridges of Hope. In 2013, we received referrals, calls & requests for help from 2,896 households! Part of my role at Bridges is to crunch the numbers, which I realize doesn’t necessarily sound all that fun or exciting, but I really do enjoy it because of what it can tell us about our services to the community. For example: of the 2,896 households we were in contact with last year…

  • The majority (78%) were for help with resources through our Resource Connection Services (help with housing, transportation, utlities, etc).
  • Childcare Services (Respite & Crisis Nursery) comprised another 14% of households.
  • Family Support Services (Intensive In-Home Services, the Parent Support Outreach Program, and the Teen Parent Outreach Program) made up 7% of the households.
  • Mentoring Services (Side by Side) was the final, very tiny less-than-1%.
  • Our mission is focused on serving families, and 68% of the households were part of our target service population (families, parents, “children” 0-21 and those who care for them). We continue to offer connections to resources for those who are not part of this population.
Bridge Photo

You help us build bridges!

Unfortunately, but understandably, most  households (~63%) who contacted Bridges for help were living at or below 100% of poverty, which was an annual income of $23,550 for a family of four in 2013. Another 30% were living between 101% and 200% of poverty (this is an annual income was $47,100 for a family of four).

Another rather astonishing set of numbers is those reporting physical and mental health concerns for at least one of the members of the household: 41% of households report a mental health concern, issue, or diagnosis;  14% report a physical health concern or disability; and 23% report both concerns! We know that these numbers aren’t based off of physical or clinician diagnoses, but they DO mean that people are clearly struggling in our community, when they’re willing to self-report concerns to these extents.

Despite these somewhat sobering statistics, thanks to the richness of resources in the Lakes Area, we were able to suggest viable solutions, resources, and/or practical ideas for 92% of the households. (Another 4% didn’t stay in contact with us, we screened out 2% as inappropriate, and we were unable to find resources for 2% of the households.) On the whole, that is great, great news!

And one final number: working with 2,896 households represents a somewhat incomprehensible 2,274% increase from our first year of operation, 2002, when we served just 122 households the entire year. (These days, we serve more than that in a single month–in fact, as of January 28, the day before I wrote this post, we had served exactly 122 households so far in 2014!)

Part of our programming includes following up with those we worked with, to make sure we’re providing services that are truly helpful–and if not–what we can do to modify our programs for the future. While this feels a little bit like tooting our own horn, I really wanted to share some of the great things our staff hear from those we follow up with–because our clients are really the ones that matter in this equation. Bridges was founded to bridge the gap between those in need and those with the resources–all of YOU…so, in no particular order, here is a sampling of some of the feedback we received from our clients In 2013:

  • Everyone was really helpful.
  • You guys are awesome!
  • I know I can call you anytime. I’ve learned so much from you; thank you!
  • Everyone thinks very highly of you!
  • It was very helpful. I appreciate you and would call Bridges again in the future.
  • The service was excellent. Thank you very much!
  • I very much appreciate you being so kind and not making me feel like I wasn’t important!
  • I don’t know what I would have done without you.
  • You’re most helpful and very kind.
  • If I ever come into a bunch of money, I’m donating to you for all your help over the last 3 years.
  • Thank you for listening and helping in our time of need.
  • I asked for parenting tips and I got a lot of good ideas.
  • The things I got through Salem are really making this house a home.
  • You guys always do the best you can and I appreciate it!
  • This isn’t the first time Bridges has given me hope!
  • You made me feel confident even though I had no confidence.

In addition to making sure our client’s situation was resolved, we ask them to give us a rating on the quality of services from Bridges, on a scale from 1-5:

  • A 10! You guys are awesome! I don’t know what I’d do without you.
  • I would give you a 6!
  • Definitely a 5!
  • I’d give you a 6 for calling back to follow up.
  • I’d give you guys a 20!
  • 5 + + +
  • I’d give Bridges a 10 on a scale of 1-5!
  • [And my personal favorite:] Bridges of Hope is beyond a 5; you are Phi-nominal.

Thank you for the very positive feedback, as well as for all of the very the helpful and constructive feedback you give us, because it is what enables us to serve our community in ever-better, more transformative ways. Thank you to our many community partners that work alongside us every day to help our community become a better place to live. And finally, thank you to our many, many donors and funders who enable us to DO this very important work. It is ALL OF YOU who deserve the greatest praise. We are looking forward to another great year at Bridges of Hope–thanks to you!


A Look Back at 2012…Our Annual Report

Our 2012 Annual Report is now available on our website. Annual Report

The annual report gives us an opportunity to thank our donors, reflect on the work you helped us accomplish, and share our successes with you. We are grateful for the support we receive from the Lakes Area and we are humbled by the stories of struggle, challenges, and accomplishments we hear from our clients on a daily basis.

Some highlights from 2012:

  • 1,580 households received vital support for essentials like food, shelter & staying warm
  • We moved into a new office space
  • 650 children had a safe place to stay when their parents needed a break or time to attend to a family crisis
  • Our Family Support Services staff were trained in Parent Coaching
  • 280 households were provided with a holiday meal
  • The Side by Side Mentor Program was established
  • 298 youth & adult volunteers served 4300 hours at Common Goods

Please click here and take the time to review our 2012 Annual Report and know that we are so thankful to YOU for all you’ve helped us accomplish for Lakes Area families!

The All-Time Top Eleven Quotes from our Clients

Thank-You Card

Since our founding, Bridges of Hope has built-in a specific follow-up component to our services. We have two main reasons for doing this. First, we want to make sure that the resources, programs and ideas we suggested actually helped someone resolve their crisis–because that’s why we exist! Second, and equally as important, we want to know whenever those resources, programs, and ideas didn’t work for someone–so we can do a better job matching a person’s unique situation to the right resources the next time around.

Because of our commitment to following up, our staff spend some of their time every week making follow-up phone calls to those we have recently worked with. A side benefit to making these phone calls is that many of our clients say some really kind things to us, and a few years ago, we decided it might be a good idea to write them down!

So here you can see the all-time top eleven quotes from our clients, as voted on by our staff.

Some are funny, some are a little quirky, most inspire us to continue our work, and all of them are incredibly gracious and kind:

Number 11: Bridges was beyond wonderful. I wish I would have known about this program 6 years ago.

Number 10: I can’t believe how nice your thrift store is!

Number 9: Usually Bridges is pretty good. The way I look at it is that it just isn’t meant to be this time.

Number 8: I called for Crisis Nursery at 9:00 AM and got to work by 10:00!

Number 7: I so appreciate you! You are a lifesaver. I can’t say excellent enough! I don’t know what I would have done without you!

Number 6: Because of Bridges of Hope, I feel like I have more support in the Brainerd community.

Number 5: You guys rock. I have tears in my eyes. I was so worried about my kids.

Number 4: My opinion of Bridges has just changed, because you made this follow-up call to see how we were doing.

Number 3: I was so distraught and worried when I called Bridges of Hope. When I got off the phone I prayed, and then a sense of calm came over me. I feel that Bridges was the answer to my prayers. Thank you.

Number 2: I am so grateful that you helped me! I had no other way to get my car fixed. Thank God for Bridges of Hope and people like you!

And our nearly unanimous favorite:

Number 1: I wouldn’t have made it through without all the help. You were the “bridge” to my hope!

Honestly, there is truly no higher source of praise. An enormous thanks is due to those we serve for their generous words.


Do you know someone who is struggling? Someone working through a family or parenting crisis? Someone could use our help navigating area resources? Visit our website for more information or have them call Bridges of Hope today: 218.825.7682.