At Bridge Communities, we are lucky to have amazing volunteers that work not only with the parents in Bridge, but with their children as well. The Go Girlz program, geared toward helping teen and pre-teen girls, was started by volunteers Tressa Kett and Judi Anderson in July 2012. The group meets every other Wednesday night at the Naperville campus’ Learning Resource Center (LRC).
“There was a large demographic of adolescent girls in the Bridge program at the Naperville location,” says Tressa. “We’d been volunteering with the kids program at the LRC, but we reevaluated it and saw where the need really was. We also remembered what it was like to be a teenage girl, and knew this program was needed.”
Essentially, the program focuses on building the girls’ self-confidence. “We’ll talk about any topic they come to us with—there’s no topic they can’t bring up,” says Tressa. “If we don’t know the answers, we’ll find them out. The group is about learning to be comfortable in your own skin, no matter what that skin is.”
They work on life skills in the group, too. The girls planned the Halloween party and the picnic for the younger kids—making the decorations, deciding what food should be served, and more. Coming up this spring, the girls are volunteering to teach the younger kids a flash mob dance, and they’re holding a mother’s day brunch at the LRC for their moms.
“We also talk about scholarships and the ways they can be prepared to go to school,” says Judi. “We keep them conscious of their grades and how that affects their future.” Adds Tressa, “We set high expectations for them, because if you don’t expect a lot, you won’t obtain a lot. They get a lot of positive reinforcement and praise here. We’ve decided ‘Once a Go Girl, Always a Go Girl,’ so that even if the girl and her family graduate from the Bridge program, she can still be part of us.”
Are you interested in getting more involved at Bridge Communities? Visit https://www.bridgecommunities.org/How-you-can-help/index.html for more ways that YOU can make a difference in the lives of our families.
On Friday, April 25, two outstanding DuPage County women will be recognized at Bridge Communities’ Celebrating Women…Transforming Lives celebratory luncheon, held at Danada House in Wheaton.
Join us as community advocate and humanitarian Palma Aikins of Naperville will be presented with the Transforming Lives Award for her activism on behalf of women in need, and Bridge Communities graduate, Isabel Alicea, will receive the Life Transformed Award in honor of her recovery from a life of addiction and homelessness to a living a life dedicated to helping others.
Master of ceremonies will be Emmy-winning journalist and author Jenniffer Weigel, and keynote speaker will be Kelly Standing of Standing Media LLC. Tickets for the luncheon are $50 per person and are available at www.bridgecommunities.org.
Nothing significant was ever accomplished at Bridge Communities without heroic actions. A month does not go by without us celebrating the heroics of a mentor, a client, a staff member, a tutor, a donor, or a long-time friend. In this report, we are pleased to bring you the stories of special Bridge heroes, in their own words.
|Imagine what your life would be like without a reliable car.
Daily activities we take for granted–getting to work, dropping the kids off at school, running errands or making it to a doctor’s appointment–could be incredibly difficult. This is the reality that many Bridge Communities families face every day.
However, donating your used car to Bridge’s auto donation program can make all the difference in the world for a family on the way to self-sufficiency.
We are in desperate need of donated cars right now. Would you consider donating yours? Donating your older model car is a great idea because:
- You can take the full retail value of your donated car as a tax deduction since the car will be given to a Bridge family. If you donate your car to an agency that sells the car, your deduction is only equal to the selling price, which is much lower than retail value.
- You can avoid the hassle of selling your car on your own.
- You can help a local homeless family in a tangible, meaningful way!
At the end of February, Bridge families headed to downtown Chicago for a field trip. The first stop of the day was the Adler Planetarium, where families enjoyed the interactive exhibits, learned about our solar system and explored history.
Next, the group traveled south to the ETA Theatre to see “The Sounds of Blackness,” a stage production in honor of Black History Month. The show was set to a soundtrack of authentic literature, music, dance and political movements from before slavery to the present day, and the families learned more about these stories of courage and hope.
Thank you, Bridge supporters, for helping make great activities like these possible for our families.
Oak Brook dentist, Dr. Chris Metcalf and his wife, patient coordinator Melissa, wanted to help those in the community, especially since February is the ADA’s National Children’s Dental Health Month. They learned about Bridge Communities through a friend who volunteers as a Bridge mentor and organizer for Sleep Out Saturday, and knew there could be a great match.
After coordinating with Bridge, the Metcalfs held “Give Kids A Smile Day” at their office on Saturday, February 8, providing free dental care to Bridge parents and children throughout the day. All in all, 13 individuals were seen and everyone received oral screenings, cleanings and oral hygiene instructions. Those in need of additional services received x-rays, restorations with fillings, fluoride treatments, and extractions as well. All children also left with a goody bag filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste and a book.
Altogether, the Metcalf team donated more than $4,500 worth of dental services to Bridge families! A huge thank you goes out to the entire Metcalf team: Dr. Chris and Melissa; Bethany Micaletti and Cheryl Zara – Hygiene; Gitana Sapokas – Assistant; Vedrana Savic – Sterilization; and Christopher, Jack and Chase Metcalf – Child Supervision.
Art, kids and philanthropy came together for the perfect mixture on Saturday, February 8, when renowned illustrator Geoff Bevington collaborated with the children of Bridge Communities to create a mural for their Glendale Heights Learning Resource Center (LRC).
Bevington, who co-authored the beloved children’s story, “Steve the Dog & The Winged Tiger,” with artist and founder of Cartoonists Across the World Phil Yeh, also volunteers weekly at the Glendale Heights LRC as an activities coordinator, playing games and making crafts with the children in its safe, welcoming environment.
The inspiration for the mural originated from the families served by Bridge. “The new Bridge Communities logo, with its stick figure mom, daughter and son, got me thinking about the families at Bridge,” Bevington explains. “It’s my understanding that the families at Bridge are all, overwhelmingly, single mothers looking to better themselves—but beyond that, they come from a variety of races, creeds, religions and circumstances. For the mural, I chose a tree and a ‘suburban-like’ community populated by different animals—all families of three—united by their community. A tree and its branches can mean many things, including a strong foundation and the opportunity to grow and branch out.”
The LRCs serve as locations within Bridge’s apartment communities to provide tutoring, programming, workshops and other fun activities for the children of families in Bridge’s transitional housing program.
“The mural brings to life Bridge’s philosophy of dedication to families in warm, friendly spaces, right within the buildings where our families live,” says John Hayner, CEO of Bridge Communities. “We’re grateful to Geoff, and look forward to the collaboration with the children we serve.”