Jasmine is a young single mother with 16 month old twin boys. Below are the items she needs to get started in her first apartment.She needs:
Lamps - (a floor lamp and a table lamp for the living room,2 bedroom table lamps); Bathroom Bath Towels, hand towels and wash clothes;Bathroom Shower Curtain and Hooks; 4 Dining room chairs (She has a metal and wood table); A small Couch; a comfortable Chair or Rocker, and 3 Waste Baskets. The colors Jasmine likes are brown and orange however things in any color are welcome. Please call or email Ruth Schoenfeld or Sue Gately with anything you can contribute.
Sue Gately 630 653 3171
A huge and heartfelt thank you to the forty-plus members who worked to make our catering of the Naperville Band Concert a resounding success! It was a beautiful night in every way -- weather perfect, workers dedicated, efficient and indefatigable, and customers HAPPY if disbelieving that all this beautiful food was really homemade. We hung Church and Bridge Communities banners, and represented both with class. We sold an unbelievable amount of baked food, and our profit is between $800 and $900 to support our soon-to-be new family. The level of support for Bridge in this congregation continues to amaze us. Our church banner proclaims “Shared Values,” and we have indeed walked the walk with this project.
When our church was looking for a way to go beyond our PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) experience in the hope of dealing with the causes of homelessness one family at a time, it was an obvious choice to partner with an organization that had 22 years’ experience in addressing the needs of homeless families. Bridge Communities, Inc., provides roughly half the cost of supporting our families, and we share the proceeds from Sleepout Saturday, (also known as Cardboard City) a long-standing Bridge program to turn a spotlight on homelessness and raise money from sponsorship of participants.
Some may have wondered what we gain from sharing the money earned by our members with Bridge. Even as we face a financial struggle to continue our partnership, we hope to highlight the innumerable benefits we and our families reap from association with Bridge.
For starters, Bridge supplies crucial training for our mentors. Next, their experienced intake staff determine which of the many applicants have the best chance of benefiting from the program and achieving independence in two years. Each family has a case manager who is our liaison with Bridge and who brings us families who are thoroughly prepared to carry out their part of the bargain, including the opening of their checkbooks and financial records to the mentors for help with goal-setting and financial management. The case manager is available to help the mentors and clients with problems, oversee the family’s overall development, and provide vital access to community resources needed to achieve self-sufficiency.
One Church, One Family
With this motto, Bridge Communities housed and served 163 homeless children from 103 families in 2009. They couldn’t have done it without 44 program partners — 43 churches and one community organization — and we, the partners, couldn’t have done it without them.
Bridge provides an apartment, and we find a way to furnish it. Our mentors give their time and their hearts, but the Bridge Case Manager is always there to oversee the family’s progress. She has made available necessities we could never provide on our own, including extensive (and expensive) vocational testing for our client, help with job hunting, and subsidized day care through a partnership with the YWCA. Tutoring for children and help with the college application maze as well as scholarship help are services provided by Bridge. In addition, she can give a dose of reality if the client and the mentors exhibit irrational exuberance!
Bridge Communities believes that if a congregation is truly convinced that the Bridge partnership is right for them, the money will follow. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who slept out for Cardboard City, and those who supported them!
Transportation. It’s difficult to imagine our taking on all the needs of a homeless family without the backing of the Bridge Communities. What if our client’s car dies? People who want to further the work of Bridge often donate cars, and a local garage inspects, repairs and stores donated cars for clients who need transportation to work and child care.
Tutoring. Suppose our client’s child, having lacked a stable home and school experience, is struggling with school work? Bridge has 30 certified and volunteer tutors available to help.
Furniture. What if the client has no necessities for furnishing an apartment and we just can't come up with everything they need? Bridge is well-known and trusted in the community, so people who have furniture and other items to spare often contact them; Bridge volunteers pick up and store items if necessary until they are needed.
Case Management. We don't have to face alone these and untold other “what ifs” that could stymie our efforts and keep our mentors awake at night. We have our family’s case manager as well as the resources of 25 helping organizations Bridge partners with to rely on. How can we keep from smiling?
Career Counseling. When our first Bridge client was considering career options, her Case Worker arranged for her to take an extensive skill aptitude assessment test with Career Vision — a test that would be very expensive if not for the “Bridge connection." A Career Vision professional then spent several hours interpreting the results for the client and mentors. These included academic levels in various areas as well as lots of information about her personal preferences and learning style. Not only did she learn much about herself to help her with career choices and life in general, but the mentors learned much about the best ways to approach working with her. (The mentors all left wishing they could take such a revealing and useful test!) Knowledgeable professionals also helped her with resume writing and marketing herself. The result was a woman who could move ahead with self-knowledge and self confidence. Caring for children is hard work under the best of circumstances.
Housing. When you are a single mother, as the vast majority of Bridge clients are, especially a homeless mother, first you need a secure home for your family. Bridge and the partner church are able to provide an apartment for two years, but without the support of Bridge and the mentors, a mother who gets up and gets her children ready for school or day care, works all day, picks up her children and feeds them, supervises homework, etc., perhaps tries to further her own education, falls into bed exhausted and gets up the next day to start over would have little chance of dealing with the issues that got her into the situation in the first place.
Mentoring. Every single parent who copes with such total responsibility without benefit of a partner to share the responsibility is a hero. The Bridge program can lift the burden of rent payments for two years, but the crucial part is the work the mentors do to help her learn to manage her finances and save enough money for a fresh start when she leaves the program. Mentoring is much more than monitoring her finances, however. It’s taking an interest in the totality of the family’s life, being there every week to encourage them and help deal with problems that come up and alert her case manager if she needs more professional help. It’s just being the supportive extended family that these mothers need. More than all the material and practical assistance, it’s the caring that counts the most.