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.”
One of the key components of Bridge Communities’ programs is employment counseling. Job readiness training, resume writing, and mock interviewing are only some of the services we offer to help our families on their path to self-sufficiency. Through our employment services, we help over 60 clients per year, and we’re proud to share some of our recent success stories:
-Due to health reasons, one client was out of work for nearly two years, and worried that her chances of finding a new job were slim to none. After going through our employment program, she just obtained a job that pays $14/hour, and received a donated car from Bridge so she can get to and from work.
-One client had a pharmaceutical background in her native country, but hadn’t been able to find a job here. She worked with our employment services team, and recently was hired full time at a store selling vitamins and supplements!
-One of our clients had been working at an entry level position for the past 6 years at $10/hour. After a boost in her confidence from mock interviewing and coaching from our employment program, she just accepted a position at a new company–complete with a 20% raise in pay!
Click here to learn more about the many programs and services Bridge Communities provides.
On December 12, Bridge hosted its sixth annual Christmas party for our client families at the DuPage Children’s Museum! More than 100 parents and kids enjoyed dinner, all the museum’s interactive exhibits and play spaces, and even a visit from Santa. Our Bridge Builders group also hosted a Santa’s Closet, so the kids could choose holiday gifts for their parents. Thank you to our program partners, mentors, Bridge Builders and staff who helped make this event a success!
As part of the Allstate Hometown Voices Tour on WGN Radio’s Steve Cochran Show, Bridge Communities was featured at this morning’s event, held at Ivy Restaurant in Wheaton! At the event, Bridge’s own Amy Van Polen spoke on air about the challenges our clients have faced that brought them to the point of homelessness, and how Bridge works with families to create long-term solutions that lead to a better future. We also received a generous $1,000 donation from Allstate! Bridge is grateful to Allstate, Wheaton Allstate agent Casey Mulcare, WGN and Ivy for this opportunity.
It’s been 25 years since Mark Milligan and Bob Wahlgren set out to help one homeless family turn their life around. Since then, they evolved that mission into what’s now Bridge Communities, one of the nation’s leading organizations dedicated to helping homeless families achieve their dreams of self-sufficiency.
And now, the time has come to celebrate! Dust off your dancing shoes and join us for Bridge Communities’ Silver Jubilee, an evening to remember! On Friday, October 4, we’ll gather at Esplanade Lakes by Doubletree in Downers Grove.
Local Favorite will be playing all your favorite tunes. But before we hit the dance floor, we’ll hear from Mark Milligan and other special guests, reflecting back and looking forward to the promising future that lies ahead for Bridge. You’ll also have the chance to bid on phenomenal live auction packages, like a two-case wine cellar starter, a luxury trip to Florida, a private chef’s dinner, and a Chicago sports ticket spectacular. You can even enter to win a gorgeous silver bangle bracelet valued at $500!
Silver Jubilee tickets are on sale now for $75 per person. Questions? Call Amy at (630) 545-0610 ext. 12 or email email@example.com.