Whether you have 2 free hours per week or 2 free hours per year, there is a perfect way for YOU to make a difference in the live of homeless families in DuPage County. Here are the top 8 easy ways to get involved at Bridge Communities.
1. Participate in Sleep Out Saturday. With your family or a group of friends, spend the night of November 1 outside for Sleep Out Saturday. Participants of all ages will experience a night of homelessness by sleeping out in parking lots and parks and backyards. All money raised from the event will support families in the Bridge program, funding the housing, employment training, mentoring, case management, plus tutoring and summer camps for kids. Register your group now!
2. Volunteer at a Learning Resource Center. Get involved by volunteering at one of Bridge Communities community-based Learning Resource Centers (LRC). Volunteers help monitor the LRCs during designated evening hours. No special skills are required – just a desire to interact with elementary and middle school age children in fun and academic activities, and the availability for volunteer twice per month for 2-3 hours at a time. Adults and teens are both welcome volunteers. LRCs are located in Glendale Heights, Naperville and Westmont and are open on designated evenings. E-mail email@example.com for details.
3. Mentor a Bridge Family. Mentors operate as members of a Bridge Communities’ Program Partner group from their faith-based or community organization. Mentors are the primary contact in the client family’s service team. This team is made up of the homeless family, volunteer mentors and professional case manager. Mentors typically work in a team of two or three volunteers, and meet with the family on a weekly basis. Learn more.
4. Tutor a Bridge Child. Are you a certified teacher looking for an opportunity to help children of homeless families now living in transitional housing? Students meet with their tutors once or twice each week, for one hour each session. Tutoring typically takes place in one of our three Learning Resource Centers located in Glendale Heights, Naperville and Westmont or one of our other Tutor Centers in Glen Ellyn, Addison and Woodridge. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Volunteer for Bridge’s Employment Program. This is a perfect opportunity for busy professionals! We need volunteers to help with mock interviews for our job-seeking clients. Volunteers are needed on an occasional, flexible basis, and must have a history of employment. Hiring and/ or management experience is a huge plus. For details, e-mail email@example.com.
6. Donate Your Car to Bridge. 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. By donating your used car to Bridge’s auto donation program, you can help put a family on the way to self-sufficiency. Learn how you can donate your car to a Bridge family
7. Organize a Donation Drive or Fundraiser. Bridge Communities accepts and distributes donated goods to client families throughout the year. Donated furniture, gift cards, automobiles and gasoline cards are very helpful to families when they experience an unexpected expense that can cause havoc to their limited budget. Donations of unused personal care and cleaning products are always appreciated, too! To learn about donation drive options, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. Throw a Bridge-Themed Birthday Party. As you begin to plan your child’s next birthday party, consider hosting a GIVING PARTY to benefit the client families in the Bridge Communities Transitional Housing Program. As part of the GIVING PARTY birthday, your party guests will participate in activities from “What’s It Like to Be Homeless?” Educational Curriculum and receive Bridge Communities token gifts for a party goodie bag. In lieu of (or in addition to) traditional birthday gifts, your guests will bring a gift for a Bridge Communities family or child. Learn how to throw a GIVING PARTY here!
At Bridge Communities, we know that homelessness can be a difficult concept to explain to your children. How do we explain what homelessness truly means, and what kind of impact it makes on our kids, and on our community? More importantly, how do we answer the question, “Why?”
Bridge saw this need, and created the “What’s It Like To Be Homeless?” curriculum as a way to teach kids about homelessness in a meaningful way. The activities we suggest are geared toward school-aged children, and are appropriate for to teach in schools, religious and youth groups, scout troops and more. There is a variety of activities that the groups can perform, based on the age of the kids, including:
-Purchase or borrow from the library either of the books, “Cooper’s Tale” or “Fly Away Home,” and use the discussion questions to explore why and how families become homeless.
-Identify an organization in your local area that serves the homeless. Choose and complete a service project that helps its clients.
-Complete the activity “What Would You Take?”
-Using the questions, explore together as a group the reasons why families become homeless and why homelessness is harmful to children.
-Complete the activity “Calculate It!”
-Visit a homeless shelter or the offices of an agency that serves to homeless to learn more about this issue in your local community. Students can research and develop their own project that serves the homeless.
In addition to benefiting from taking part in these experiences, kids can earn scout patches as well. After the troop members complete the activities from the “What’s It Like To Be Homeless?” curriculum, troop leaders can order Bridge’s “A Heart for the Homeless” scout patches for $2 apiece from http://www.bridgecommunities.org.
We hope these activities can answer some of the tough questions your kids may have about poverty and homelessness, and help them keep the homeless in their hearts.
On November 1, 2014, nearly 2,000 DuPage County residents will spend a frosty night inside tents, boxes and cars to raise awareness about family homeless and money for Bridge Communities’ Transitional Housing Program. The all-night event will be held in 25+ DuPage County communities–JOIN US!
Sleep Out Saturday participants of all ages will experience a night of homelessness by sleeping out in parking lots and parks and backyards. All money raised from the event will support families in the Bridge program, funding the housing, employment training, mentoring, case management, plus tutoring and summer camps for kids. We thank YOU for making a difference in their lives!
You can help . . . Make a donation – $35 provides one night of housing and supportive services.
Last Thursday evening, North Central College’s Wentz Hall was abuzz with excitement. Twenty-seven chairs—some beautifully practical and some beautifully whimsical—that were designed and created by local artists, were auctioned off to supporters of Bridge Communities from Naperville and beyond. These supporters helped to raise money for homeless families in DuPage County served by Bridge’s Transitional Housing Program.
Alecia Hannemann, a Bridge graduate, captivated the audience with her story as she shared the struggle and heartache she faced before finding peace and stability in Bridge Communities. Alecia shared with the audience that she recently just bought her first home, and even had the keys to prove it!
Mariam Paré’s masterpiece, “The Persistence of the Third Dimension,” was awarded the People’s Choice award after receiving the most votes in the online voting contest. At the age of 20, Mariam was caught in the cross-fire of gun violence. She sustained a spinal cord injury and was rendered quadriplegic, unable to walk and with significant loss of function in her extremities. During rehabilitation, Mariam learned to hold a paintbrush in her mouth to create art. She received degrees in art and graphic design, works professionally as an artist, and is now a philanthropist as well. Congratulations, Mariam!
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of this event including our artists, sponsors, retailers, and friends of Bridge Communities!
Bridge Communities is fortunate to have great relationships with many outstanding community partners, and the B.R. Ryall YMCA of Northwestern DuPage County is certainly along them. For many years, this YMCA has provided summer camp scholarships to Bridge families, so that their kids can have an enriching day camp experience during the summer, as well as eliminate the parents’ need for childcare.
“This summer, we provided about $6,700 in scholarships in day camp,” says Michelle Daniels, interim CEO and Chief Operating Officer, B.R. Ryall YMCA. “We are dedicated to youth and social responsibility. Bridge is in our own neighborhood, and we think they’re an excellent fit in terms of a community partner.”
In addition to the summer camp scholarships, B.R. Ryall YMCA also provides family memberships to local Bridge clients, and has a few families attending the before and after-school programs during the school year. “We give away over $325,000 in scholarships and community assistance every year, and every dollar stays in DuPage County,” Daniels adds.
Thank you, B.R. Ryall YMCA, for all you do for Bridge families!
To learn more about the YMCA, visit www.brryallymca.org.
For the past year and a half, Bridge volunteer Ellen Herman has helped coordinate children’s activities at the Glendale Heights Learning Resource Center (LRC)—and she couldn’t love it more. She found out about Bridge after raising her three kids, when she found herself with more time and wanted to get involved in the community.
“I came across Bridge Communities in my search, and it was a godsend,” Ellen says. “They told me they could really use a program coordinator for their Glendale Heights learning resource center. I started about November 2012, and it has been great ever since.”
The kids who attend programming at the LRC range from 7-12 years old, and an average of 7 kids come each week. Ellen says the group is only there for an hour and a half on Wednesday nights, but the time flies by! “I talk to the kids to find out what they want to do, because I want them to be excited about it,” she said. “We’re currently working on a puppet play. We brought in spoons, felt, and pipe cleaners to make the puppets. Yesterday we decorated them, and then we wrote the play together. Next week we’ll make the stage, and then we’ll make invitations to send to the parents.”
Ellen loves seeing the positive impact that Bridge LRC volunteers have on the kids. “There are a few children especially that I have seen such a difference in. Some of the kids were kind of ornery and would lash out at the other kids when they first came to Bridge. Now, I am 100% positive that due to the stability they have through the Bridge program, it’s made all the difference in their behavior. It’s just a win-win. They are so much happier overall, and Bridge is a huge part of that difference for them.”
Stepping Stones Roselle, one of Bridge’s program partners for the past 11 years, hosted their Spring Tea last weekend. Each table is decorated and competes for the best theme, and the table for Bridge mentors, “ROAR,” won the people’s choice award!
Based on the Katy Perry song, “ROAR” is a great theme for the women that work with Stepping Stones, as the organization supports Bridge clients who have previously suffered from domestic abuse, helping them overcome their pasts and take charge of their futures.
We thank Stepping Stones mentors for helping bring out the best in Bridge families!