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Celebrate 30 Years of Homes and Hope With Bridge Communities!

August 10, 2018

PrintLet’s celebrate three decades of home and hope with Bridge Communities, and honor the retirement of beloved co-founder Mark Milligan!

Please join us at the Bridge Communities 30th Birthday Bash on Friday, September 21st. This unique & exciting night at The Planter’s Palette will feature cocktails, a buffet, and a raffle with a unique birthday twist. You will also have the chance to bid on amazing auction packages, including a starter wine cellar, a luxury trip to Arizona, and a private chef’s dinner. Last but not least, there will be music all night long, so wear your “dancing on dirt” attire.

Buy your tickets to the 30th Birthday Bash today!

Over the years, Bridge Communities has become an organization that has helped homeless families achieve their dreams of self-sufficiency, and that has only been possible because of community supporters like you. We thank YOU for being a friend to Bridge families!

Don’t miss out on the party of the year! Birthday Bash tickets are on sale for $100 per person–click here to purchase yours today! If you have any questions, you can call Margo at (630) 403-5091 or email margo.matthew@bridgecommunities.org. We can’t wait to celebrate 30 years of home and hope with you!

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Pearls of Wisdom from the Bridge Builders

August 6, 2018

GEBBQ2015 222The Bridge Builders are a dedicated force to be reckoned with. They make things happen: great things.

In 2003, Glen Ellyn resident Stephanie Pierce wanted to give back to her community and help local families get back on their feet, so she gathered her friends and neighbors and founded the Bridge Builders, an auxiliary group of Bridge Communities made up of active and passionate women in Glen Ellyn.

In support of their efforts, the Bridge Builders have put on amazing fundraising activities enjoyed by all. Like the epic Garage Parties spearheaded by Deb Ritter – a middle of the winter freeze attended by scores of people coming out in the snow for a good cause. Deb remembers the thrill of the chill and raising a red solo cup to gather donations. Deb’s interest, from being in the housing industry, has always been to help other less fortunate to secure a safe home.

Rani McKee has been a Bridge Builder for 12 years, co-chair of the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ and a Bridge tutor. She tells of the Bridge Builders’ involvement in Bridge’s annual holiday party held for families at the DuPage Children’s Museum. This gathering’s highlight is Santa’s Closet, an effort where donated gifts are collected all year. This magical closet allows Bridge clients to pick out whatever gift they would like for their family and all the gifts are then wrapped by Bridge Builders that night. Rani remembers a special young girl named “T,” a 12-year-old who chose only what she needed each year and never more. Fast-forward six years and “T” returned to the party as a college student. That is the best gift “T” could give to Bridge, but she continues to give back. Now “T” attends the holiday party, helping others select and wrap gifts!

Carrie Morris has been a Bridge Builder since the group’s early days. Carrie speaks of the Bridge Builders as being an auxiliary that is all about assisting the families as they go through the program with activities like: babysitting, Christmas parties and giving moms a break as they juggle education and learning new skills. She feels the three most important things Bridge Builders provide is: keeping the families together, teaching skills for success, and educating the children so they can launch and be independent. Carrie eloquently and thoughtfully spoke of her Bridge experience, leaving us with this thought: most of all, to be kind to our neighbors and love one another.

The Bridge Builders plan to continue their hard work and efforts to support Bridge Communities, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have such amazing supporters in our community. We salute them and their dedication. Thank you, Bridge Builders!

Thank you to our video & blog volunteers Lisa Sallwasser and Geoff Bevington for their contributions, and to our 30th Anniversary Media Sponsor Compass Mortgage! 

Volunteer at the 10th Annual Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ!

July 18, 2018
BBQ 10 Years    If your idea of a great day includes smelling the aroma of mouthwatering barbecue, listening to non-stop music and meeting some of the greatest barbecue lovers in Northern Illinois and the Western Suburbs, then we have a job for you! Volunteer at the 10th Annual Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ on Saturday, September 8.
Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ
Saturday, September 8
12-10 PM
Glenwood Ave Parking Lot
Crescent Blvd. and Glenwood Ave.
Glen Ellyn, IL map
    We need over 200 volunteers to help make this event possible! There are many shift options between 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM, so everyone can find the perfect volunteer opportunity.

    Will you help out at one of our most important fundraisers of the year? The BBQ can only exist with the help of volunteers!

Sign up today www.glenellynbackyardbbq.org/volunteer-opportunities/

    For volunteering questions, please contact Kait Balsewicz at volunteer@glenellynbackyardbbq.org.

    For more details on the event, please visit www.glenellynbackyardbbq.org.

    Thank you for your continuous support, and we will see you on September 8!

Bridge Pearls of Wisdom: Steve and Nydia

July 11, 2018

SteveandNydiaImage

Steve and Nydia Paterkiewicz are some of the biggest fans and supporters of Bridge Communities around. And they know Bridge Communities better than most people—because they used to be clients in the program.

Nydia and her three daughters came into the safety of a Bridge apartment more than five years ago, after escaping domestic abuse. And when Steve, her friend from childhood, was losing his home with his two sons a few years later, she recommended that he apply for Bridge Communities as well.

The two credit Bridge Communities for changing their lives. “Coming into the program, I didn’t have good self-esteem,” Nydia remembers. “I had a degree, but I wasn’t able to take that degree and succeed with it. I didn’t have that confidence in myself, and they were able to provide that for me in order for me to succeed.”

What did they like best about the program? “I liked learning how to budget, and I liked the fellowship aspect,” says Nydia. “It’s exactly what it says: it’s a community. Bridge provides a lot of services and after school programs for the families, and we all get to come together as a family and fellowship. I’ve grown several really close relationships out of the program—including Steve!”

Indeed, the former childhood friends found love, and Steve and Nydia married in 2016, after they’d both graduated from the transitional housing program.

Besides Nydia, Steve says the best part of being in Bridge was his relationship with his mentors. “They gave me a sense of relief, and I know that a lot of things were finally going to be put into perspective and put into order. It was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” he recalls.

Steve reflects on what their lives were like while in the Bridge program, and how their lives have evolved since graduating. “Back then, I was able to be in a stable home and a stable environment. I got my kids into athletics and great schools. I just had a smile from ear to ear,” he says. “Now, I own my own home, and I own my own business. We both have amazing full-time jobs besides the business and our kids are going to great schools, all succeeding. We have travel baseball, soccer, softball, and cheerleading. We couldn’t be happier. Joy is just floating around this house all day long.”

What’s their advice for clients in the Bridge program? “There’s a lot of sacrifice, but it’s well worth it,” says Nydia. “It gets hard sometimes, because I know there’s a lot of issues with putting everything out on the table, but it’s very well worth it. The mentors and the program are there for us, and that’s a great feeling.”  Adds Steve, “You have to be strong. The reward is worth the sacrifice.”

Steve and Nydia’s message to their mentors and to Bridge: “Thank you for everything you have done. You truly are a gift from God that we owe all of our success to. Not only our mentors, but the Bridge program itself. And we are behind it 100% and do whatever we can to give back to this program.”

Save the Date! Sleep Out Saturday is November 3

July 2, 2018

SOS 2018 Save the DateWhat will you be doing the first weekend in November? Participating in Sleep Out Saturday, we hope!  On November 3rd, 2018, Bridge Communities will be hosting the 15th annual Sleep Out Saturday. Join us as we come together as a community to connect homeless families to a better future.

Sleep Out Saturday is a way for you to experience the hardships faced by homeless families before they found the safety of Bridge Communities. Become vulnerable and uncomfortable for one night only to help prove we are not forgetting local homeless children and neighbors. It is time to join forces and strengthen your commitment to helping the homeless in our community.

Sleep Out Saturday brings groups of all kinds and of all ages to experience a night of homelessness by spending a chilly night sleeping out in parking lots, parks and backyards.  Individuals, families, youth groups and clubs in the Chicagoland area are all welcome to join the overnight event. Bridge Communities will provide a toolkit with age-appropriate activities to make your sleep out educational and meaningful, too. The all-night event will give you, your family and your friends a whole new outlook on what it is like to be homeless and how you can make a difference.

Every penny raised from the event will support homeless families in the Bridge Communities program, funding the housing, employment training, mentoring, case management, plus tutoring and summer camps for kids. We thank YOU for transforming their lives.

     Join the Sleep Out Saturday movement today! You can change the life of a homeless family by signing up for Sleep Out Saturday 2018 at www.sleepoutsaturday.org. For questions, contact Bridge’s Director of Community Engagement Chad Pedigo at 630-403-5095 or chad.pedigo@bridgecommunities.org.

A Chair Affair Naperville: Transforming Art & Transforming Lives

June 13, 2018
AChairAffair_Square
    On June 7, Bridge Communities hosted the fifth annual A Chair Affair Naperville, a celebration of community and philanthropy, all to benefit homeless families in DuPage County!

   For the three weeks prior to the event, the chairs were on display at retail locations in Downtown Naperville, where the community visited, viewed and voted for these fun, whimsical, funky and avant-garde chairs.  This artwork showcased the creative talent of local artists and was supported by generous sponsors who made this event possible. The June 7 event was hosted at Elements at Water Street, inside the brand new Hotel Indigo, and included delicious food and cocktails, a silent auction, and a high-energy live auction of the top People’s Choice chairs. Pictured are Zachary Mestek and Stephanie Price and their 2018 People’s Choice Award-winning masterpiece, “Barreling Down Route 66.”

Thanks to support at the event, five homeless families will each receive an entire year of housing plus the mentoring, counseling and services needed to build a better future!

   Want to relive the action and excitement of A Chair Affair? Click here to see the photos from A Chair Affair, and be sure to like our Facebook page for more success stories of Bridge families moving from homelessness to hope!
  Thank you for your support–friends like you are the reason that the 130+ homeless families served by Bridge Communities will be connected to a better future this year!

Pearls of Wisdom: Dan Johnson

May 30, 2018

 

Dan Johnson remembers talking to an excited Mark Milligan in 1994, because he had secured the rights to the Bridge Communities name for the organization he had started.

“Since that time, Mark had been very persuasive in trying to get my wife Jeanine and I involved as program partners at First United Methodist Church,” says Dan. “Six years ago, we did become mentors. Since that time, we’re now with our third family mentoring, and it just continues to be a very rewarding experience.”

“Mentoring is certainly an interesting process,” he continues. “I remember back at our first mentor class before we started, that it was suggested to us that we’ll learn every bit as much as we try to teach our clients. That is certainly proved out to be the case. It’s been very interesting, now that we’re mentoring our third client, how we tend to stereotype who might be in the situation that would need our help through Bridge. Each one of our clients have been very different people, coming from very different circumstances.”

“But I think one of the most significant elements of mentoring is really just being there,” Dan adds.  “It’s a matter of being present, listening to the client and building trust, so that over time they have a comfort level in sharing anything that’s on their mind, so we don’t get lost in the details of budgeting, but we also deal with a lot of the trauma that they’ve experienced. The only way that they feel comfortable in discussing that is if there’s been trust that’s been built in the relationship over a period of time.”

Dan thinks the best thing about Bridge Communities, is providing an opportunity for people who are in a stable living environment, to help those who aren’t. “It also provides those involved with Bridge as mentors, as we are, to gain a better understanding of what people in those circumstances are going through and how fortunate that we are to be able to help them through that process,” he says.

For the next 30 years, Dan thinks the future is bright for Bridge. “Certainly, the organization that is in place now is very strong,” he says.  “It has a group of people who are very passionate about what they do. I can’t imagine that Bridge won’t be successful for another 30 years, given the foundation that’s been built to this point.”

Dan’s direct message to Mark is, “I appreciate your passion. I appreciate your commitment to making this program into what it is today. And I will say congratulations to you for your persistence, that over the course of about 25 years, you kept telling me, ‘Someday, Dan, we’re gonna get you involved with Bridge.’ And maybe it took longer than you would’ve liked, but it’s very much a pleasure to be involved now and to be a part of the program. I can understand now how you’ve been so passionate about it over all these years.”

Thank you to our 30th Anniversary Committee volunteers Lisa Sallwasser and Geoff Bevington, and to our 30th Anniversary Media Sponsor Compass Mortgage!

 

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