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:

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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

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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!)

 

 

Is AmeriCorps VISTA Right for You?

AmericorpsVISTA50yrs2015Bridges of Hope is looking for a VISTA Member–a full-time volunteer who serves through AmeriCorps, to assist our organization with some very cool projects from August 2015-July 2016.

VISTA is often described as the “domestic version of the PeaceCorps,” and is a national service program that Bridges has successfully participated in over the course of several years of our organization’s history. The focus of VISTA is on reducing and eliminating poverty.

It can be a great opportunity for recent college grads looking to gain experience in the human services field, and it is also an opportunity for recent retirees looking for a way to give back to their community—as well as for many others in-between these two poles of life!

Here’s what Jacklin, a former AmeriCorps member–and current Bridges of Hope staff–had to say about her experience with VISTA:

After spending almost 2 years as an out-of-state AmeriCorps member, I was eventually placed in Deerwood, MN, where I finished up and entered the “real” world. Those years as a VISTA are what prepared me for where I am now, three years later. It not only gave me that on-the-job training that’s so vital, but it also taught me life skills that I needed. I learned how expensive and limited housing options can be, especially when choosing to do something as “crazy” as having a dog! I learned how to live on a very small budget and what things were absolutely needed and what I could live without. I learned what things were out there that I could ask for help with – and I learned how it felt to ask for help.

The experience allowed me to start realizing what priorities meant the most to me and that there were consequences to those choices. My AmeriCorps time put me in a position that I had never been in before. It’s because of those experiences that I feel I could better relate to the people I would eventually work with. It’s allowed me to pose the question, “what would I have done?” and I can draw on actual experience as I think about it.

Looking back, those were definitely some hard years that I’m still making up for (hello, credit card bill!), but I wouldn’t have changed or replaced them for anything. I got to travel to places that I would never have otherwise. I got to meet some of the greatest people, and I now spend my vacation time going back to see old co-workers. If you’re looking for a challenge with great rewards and a little life experience thrown in, then I would definitely recommend AmeriCorps VISTA!

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Do you know someone looking for this kind of life-changing experience, or might YOU be that person? Bridges of Hope is currently seeking an AmeriCorps VISTA Member to assist our organization with a threefold project over the course of one year (August 2015 – July 2016). This is a fantastic professional development opportunity to grow your resume, give back to your community, expand your network, and gain experience within the nonprofit/human services sector!

For more information and to apply, visit http://bit.ly/bohvista. We will be accepting applications through the end of May 2015.

**New: effective May 3, 2015, VISTA members are now permitted to hold part-time employment outside of their VISTA assignment. More information is available upon request.

The Role of Volunteers at Common Goods

Bridges of Hope owns and operates a thrift store called Common Goods, which is located at 16227 Hwy 371 North in Baxter, Minnesota. If you have ever been to Common Goods, you have seen the end result of a very labor intensive process. Behind all of the shimmer, shine, and freshly steamed clothes there is an extreme amount of work that has gone into the final product. Every item that comes through the door at the store is checked, sorted, cleaned, painted, hung or steamed by group of amazing individuals. Some of the individuals are our employees; however, there are also a number of extremely hardworking individuals that volunteer their time to the cause of making Common Goods such a great success!

We have all different kinds of volunteers throughout the year. Some come in for special projects, and others volunteer every week. Volunteers at Common Goods include church youth groups, families, students, retired individuals, couples, and others. We have many opportunities for volunteering; including a new “host/hostess” volunteer position that includes greeting our customers and ensuring they have a great shopping experience. You can call Nate for more information at 218.824.0923.

Jeff & Penny CarlsonI would also like to introduce you to two of our long-time volunteers: Jeff and his mom Penny, who volunteer regularly at the store. Not only do they help us with some of daily tasks of keeping Common Goods in great shape, but they also bring with them a great deal of energy and smiles every week. Jeff and Penny are so “famous” at Common Goods that some of our regular shoppers often ask us if Jeff and Penny are in that day! Penny is our expert at keeping our $2.00 clearance section full and organized, and Jeff can usually be found at either our garment steamer or in the back room, creating great pieces of art.

Since Common Goods is part of a non-profit organization, volunteers play a vital role in cost-saving for the organization. Would you believe that volunteers donate over 60 hours of time, talent, and service every single month? There is no way that we could afford to pay for all of the amazing work that our volunteers do, and we are so grateful for their service, since profits from the store help pay for the programs offered at Bridges of Hope for individuals and families in need…so you could say that every hour of volunteering at Common Goods has a double impact in our community!

We are very grateful for all of the help that volunteers provide to the cause of Bridges of Hope and Common Goods–whether it be a one-time project, few hours every month, or every week! If you are interested in learning more about becoming one of our amazing volunteers, please contact us at (218) 824-0923 or stop by the store and we will be happy to explain the process and give you a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make our operation a success. You can also check out our website for more information.

To everyone who has, currently does, or will volunteer in the future, thank you! And remember:

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Charlotte’s Moment

I had the blessing of visiting with Charlotte about her experiences with Bridges of Hope over the last couple of years. Charlotte is a wonderfully warm, compassionate, confident, and strong woman. She didn’t always feel that way, though.SONY DSC

A few years ago, low self-esteem and a general feeling of being “lost” had taken their toll on Charlotte. She found herself feeling depressed and alone and spent the next few months trying to get her life back on track.

Charlotte told me that at first, “it felt like nobody was interested in helping.” Then she received a letter inviting her to participate in the Parent Support Outreach Program at Bridges of Hope, and she was excited. Charlotte recalled, “before that, I thought everything was done for. I didn’t know where to turn.”

Charlotte connected with us and soon started working with one of our staff, Jennifer, who helped her identify goals and break them down into manageable steps. One of those goals was to find affordable housing. The Lutheran Social Service HOPE Housing program was able to assist Charlotte with the funds needed to rent a new place; however, there was one small barrier: Renter’s Insurance. Charlotte was able to put some money toward it, and Bridges helped with the rest. In talking with me, Charlotte reflected that it was a little thing that made a huge difference.”

Charlotte at her college graduation with her mentor, Sheila!

Charlotte at her college graduation with her mentor, Sheila!

Now that stable housing was in place, Charlotte could focus on being a good parent to Hunter and on being a great student, since she was also enrolled in classes at Central Lakes College (CLC). A few months later, Bridges of Hope invited Charlotte to participate in our Side by Side Mentoring Program. She needed a little extra boost of support, and our volunteer Mentors provided just that.

Charlotte shared, “I looked forward to the monthly meetings, the text messages from Sheila, and coffee dates with Jan [both Charlotte’s Mentors]. They even brought meals over a few times when I was studying!”

Charlotte graduated from CLC this year and now and works at Lutheran Social Service helping others through difficult situations.“If it weren’t for Bridges, I really don’t think I would have graduated.”

When I asked her what is different now, Charlotte said, “I’ve finally figured out who I am; I feel more confident and connected. For the first time, I feel like I have people in my life who are proud of me.”

We are so proud of Charlotte for her hard work!

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Help make more stories like Charlotte’s possible:

  • Make a gift today to help us reach our $80,000 Fall Campaign goal. We just reached the halfway point and have two weeks left to raise another $40,000 to help serve the households (like Charlotte’s) that will still reach out to us this year.
  • Shop at Common Goods; proceeds stay local and help us help families in the Lakes Area.

Looking Ahead

Our staff and board members spent the day together yesterday enjoying good food & fellowship and we also did some planning for the future of Bridges. It was a relaxing & energizing day!

We started out by naming our burdens & distractions and giving them to God so we could be fully present in our conversations.What a relief!

photo 4After sharing a morning meal together, we spent some time “getting to know each other better.”

Now, I don’t mean the “where did you go to school and what is your favorite ice cream flavor” kind of getting to know each other. I mean the fun, quirky, silly, and interesting kind of getting to know each other!

For example, we learned about each others diverse interests such as sewing, horseback riding, “mudding,” playing the djembe, and singing. There was even one person among us who plans to water ski this weekend. BRRRR!

All of us shared how important family is, with one staff member sharing she has 14 siblings and another that her husband is extremely lucky to have been married to her for 32 years!

A few of us  are pet lovers our pets & have given them unique names (some based in Greek mythology and others named after dearly departed grandmothers).

Strategic Priorities

Bridges of Hope’s Strategic Priorities, adopted in 2011

picstitchAfter setting aside our burdens and getting to know each other better, we reaffirmed our strategic priorities.

Bridges of Hope's Strategic Priorities, adopted in 2011

Bridges of Hope’s Strategic Priorities, adopted in 2011

Then, we moved on to the important business of answering some key questions:

  • What value do we offer our community?
  • How do we know this?
  • What are some important goals for us to focus on in the coming years?
  • Is there anything we need to stop doing in order to start doing something new?
  • What are the resources we will need?

We have some gifted thinkers, listeners, & visionaries among us!

These are some of the exciting (and just plain necessary) areas Bridges will focus on in the coming years.

  • Expand our Side by Side mentoring program.
  • Encourage learning – for ourselves, our clients, our partners, and the community.
  • Mobilize volunteers.
  • Go paperless!
  • Increase use of technology to serve better.
  • Secure resources to continue the great work.
  • Share information regarding gaps in services and act as a catalyst to fill those gaps when possible.

In order to do our work and accomplish these new goals, WE NEED YOU! If you are interested in being a mentor or volunteering for other opportunities, please contact jana@bridgesofhopemn.org or click here to make a gift that can change lives in the Lakes Area!

To stay up to date on all the latest happenings at Bridges, follow us on Facebook.

Thank you for helping us build Bridges!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Goods for the Common Good

Did you ever think that you could give back by purchasing something for yourself? Well, you can! Shopping at Common Goods not only helps you by expanding & accessorizing your wardrobe, finding a unique piece of furniture that you think, “I know just where that will fit perfectly in my home,” or finding a board game you used to play as a kid (and can now play with your children). It also helps others in our community by partially funding the programs at Bridges of Hope, bridging the gap between area resources and people who need them.

As the new Retail Manager at Common Goods, I am thrilled to be part of helping this community, and I thank you for shopping often and helping to make the caring work of Bridges of Hope possible for nearly 3,000 Lakes Area households each year. That is what our tag line is all about:

“Common Goods for the Common Good”in our community. All of the proceeds from sales at Common Goods STAY LOCAL!!

For those of you who wish to have a more ‘hands-on’ 2005-08-16 07.18.22approach to helping out, you can donate your time and talent at the store. In 2013, our amazing volunteers graciously donated 850 hours of their time. Wow! That equates to 18 weeks worth of volunteered time! For some, it’s a onetime event and for others, it is a weekly and year long contribution. To learn more about the volunteer opportunities available please contact Common Goods at 218-824-0923.

It is YOUR ongoing support through shopping and volunteering, that make our motto “Common Goods, for the Common Good” possible. THANK YOU!!

Like us on Facebook to keep up to date on discounts, sales & events at Common Goods!