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Hope and healing: Ambar’s story

December 11, 2018
Ambar headerWhen you support Bridge Communities, you are giving homeless families much more than an apartment. You are giving them everything they need to heal from the traumas of abuse and homelessness.

So today, we’d like to tell you about Ambar, who could use your help more than ever.

For years, she had suffered from abuse both at home and in the workplace. Ambar soldiered on in order to provide for her two children. But when she lost her job–and soon after, her housing–it was more than she could take.

She was desperate. Numb. And alone.

But friends just like you changed Ambar’s life when she was welcomed into Bridge Communities.

In the months that Ambar has been in Bridge, she has worked hard to heal from years of trauma–and she is succeeding thanks to the support from friends in our community. Says Ambar, “Believing that no one would harm me has been so hard because I haven’t trusted anyone for a long time.”

Today, Ambar is on a great path forward. She now has a job where she is valued and respected. And she and her children have grown closer as a family.

But she has many months ahead of her before she’ll be ready to graduate from Bridge. And it’s only with your help that Ambar can cross the finish line.

Ambar and her children need you. Please make a gift to Bridge Communities today, and end homelessness for Ambar and 130+ homeless families this year.

“Most people would only say thank you, but my way of being grateful is by succeeding,” Ambar says.

We have no doubt that Ambar is strong and determined enough to succeed. And with your help, she will graduate to a home of her own.

Thank you for giving Ambar the opportunity to spread her wings and take flight.
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Here’s how you can help a homeless family on #GivingTuesday 2018!

November 26, 2018
BridgeCommunities_GivingTuesday_logoTomorrow is #GivingTuesday, and we’re hoping to raise $12,775 in one day. That’s enough to provide one full year of housing for a Bridge Communities family!
     And we have great news to share:  Engineering Systems Inc. will generously match the first $5,000 in donations you make in honor of #GivingTuesday!
     But we can only do it with help from loyal friends like you. Will you join us tomorrow?
Here are five easy ways you can make a difference for a homeless family on #GivingTuesday:
  • Share a post about Bridge Communities. We have lots of shareable #GivingTuesday success stories that you can post on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media accounts–click here to download the graphics today!
  • Launch a Facebook fundraiser!Facebook and Paypal are joining to match up to $7 million in donations made to nonprofits tomorrow, making it the perfect time to rally your friends and family. Click here to get started, and be sure to tag Bridge Communities on Facebook, too!
  • Share your “helpie.” Post a pic of your pledge to Give a Tuesday in honor of the families of Bridge Communities. You will inspire others to learn how they, too, can make a difference for a homeless family on #GivingTuesday! Click here to download the printable sign
  • Give a Tuesday. Thanks to our generous match from Engineering Systems Inc., just $35 is enough to house a Bridge family for TWO nights! When you make a donation, you’ll bring a homeless family in from the cold. Click here to donate today!

Thank you for your help–let’s make this the best #GivingTuesday yet!

Thanks for joining us at Sleep Out Saturday!

November 5, 2018

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It was cold. It was rainy. And it was a meaningful, life-changing experience for hundreds of participants across DuPage County as they joined us for the 15th Annual Sleep Out Saturday!

The evening kicked off with a high energy Rock Out for Sleep Out Rally, held for the first time at the rally’s new location of St. Luke’s Church in Glen Ellyn. Hundreds joined us for a fantastic concert by the School of Rock Elmhurst teens, which then led to the program hosted by Patrick Fazio of NBC5 Chicago.

Patrick began the impactful program, which included a presentation and video perspective of a homeless child, led by Diane Nilan of HEAR US Kids. Patty Gustin, city councilwoman in Naperville, joined us on stage to present Diane with a proclamation of November as Homeless Kids Awareness Month. We are grateful for Patty and Diane’s work in raising awareness of homeless families in our community!

Tony DeRiggi of Compass Mortgage, a Gold level sponsor of the event, also joined the stage to talk about Compass’ support of Bridge Communities, and to announce the winner of the night’s raffle: 4 tickets to Illuminations at the Morton Arboretum.

And, the rally capped off with a video featuring the story of Cassie, an inspiring Bridge Communities graduate. Cassie and her family then joined us on stage to talk about the impact that Sleep Out Saturday participants and donors make each and every day for Bridge families like hers!

Sleepers all then headed to their respective sleep out sites, and participated in activities, talks and more before huddling in their tents and boxes for the night. And they woke up with a deeper connection to Bridge Communities and the families they’re helping by fundraising, volunteering and sleeping out.

We appreciate you joining us and connecting homeless families to a better future!

Thank you to our Sleep Out Saturday 2018 Sponsors

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A special update on a #GivingTuesday family

October 30, 2018
Bridge18 68Now that it has been nearly a year, we thought you might like to know about the progress made by a Bridge family rescued from homelessness on #GivingTuesday 2017.
Last fall, K came to Bridge Communities desperate and broken-hearted. After leaving a bad relationship, she and her daughter had nowhere to live.
A relative let little A stay in his home temporarily–but there was no room for K, so she slept in her car. Working part-time at a gym, folding towels for $9 an hour, K had nearly lost hope for being reunited with her daughter under the same roof again.
     And generous supporters like you changed everything for K when you donated to Bridge Communities on #GivingTuesday.
Donors in our community made #GivingTuesday donations to provide a year of housing for K and A, and they moved into a safe apartment before the cold snap. The family was matched with caring mentors, received a donated car, learned to cook at our nutrition workshops and got little A enrolled in a top-notch DuPage County school.
But one of the best things? K went through our employment workshop and career assessment, and realized she had strengths in both people skills and in computers. She’s now completed coursework in IT, and was recently hired at a local hospital in IT recruitment–and today, K is earning a salary of more than $40,000 per year!
None of this would have been possible without friends like you. Thanks to the support on #GivingTuesday, K and her daughter truly are living their best lives today–and they are so grateful.
Says K, “Looking back, it was so hard to go through everything before Bridge. Now, I am so thankful and so concrete in my future. I can’t praise you enough. Thank you!”
At Bridge, we have an opportunity to bring another family in from the cold next year–a family just like K’s. Please consider donating to Give a Tuesday in honor of #GivingTuesday once more, because you will save the next Bridge family from homelessness.

Pearls of Wisdom from Bridge’s Mark Milligan

September 28, 2018

Mark_POWYou may know the story of how Bridge Communities came to be in the summer of 1988. But to hear co-founder Mark Milligan tell the story is truly something special.

“I was working in a homeless shelter, a place that people could go overnight and sleep, and I kept noticing in this homeless shelter a growing number of women and children who were there,” says Mark. “And to me, to have children in that, it just didn’t make any sense to me. Then, I had a moment of clarity that what I should have been doing was simply thinking about one family. I have the capacity to do anything to help one family, and put in those terms, certainly I did.” Mark then called his longtime friend Bob Wahlgren, had iced tea with him that afternoon, and by nightfall, they decided they would take action. They soon rallied their family and friends to raise money for one homeless family’s housing for three months–and what would become Bridge Communities had begun.

The Bridge Communities transitional housing program has seen a lot of development and transformations over the years, by adding more and more services, such as employment counseling, children’s programming, tutoring and more–but some of the biggest changes that occur are within the clients themselves. According to Mark, once a Bridge family has their mind set on long-term goals, and is committed to making changes and budgeting correctly to give their family a secure future, they’re on a great path to success.

One example Mark shares: “There was a family, a mom and two children, and she wanted very badly for her daughter to have dance lessons. But she had no money for it. So what’s she’d do in the mornings would be to get up, put her kids in the car, take one of her kids to a daycare center, take the other one to school, then she’d grab a cup of Starbucks, and then she’d go to work. And one morning, as she went through the drive-thru at Starbucks and handed her $5 out the window, she realized, ‘Wow. I’m drinking my daughter’s dance lesson.’ Her value was dance lessons for her child, and her reality was drinking Starbucks coffee. Once she understood that, her life got much less complicated and much easier to live.” As a result, the mom got a coffeemaker at home, and enrolled her daughter in dance classes–a dream come true!

This type of transformation in thinking has led 850 Bridge families to a better, self-sufficient future over 30 years. And seeing families succeed has been the greatest source of joy for Mark. “Seeing those kids turn around, seeing them thrive, seeing them head off to college, seeing their moms come out of our program and by a house for her and her family–that’s pretty remarkable stuff, and it is cause for joy,” Mark says with a smile.

Thank you, Mark Milligan, for being Bridge’s source of so many pearls of wisdom over the past 30 years! We all wish you well in your retirement, and know you’ll always be the heart of Bridge Communities.

Thank you to Compass Mortgage, our 30th Anniversary Media Sponsor and creator of the Pearls of Wisdom video series! To learn more, visit www.compmort.com. 

You gave Cassie’s family a new life!

September 18, 2018
DSC03253Cassie’s a bubbly, outgoing and kind mother-of-two living in the western suburbs. Her laugh is contagious, she lights up at the mention of her daughters Chloe and Cayden, and she’s passionate about her job helping cancer patients.
     You’d never know that, just three years ago, she and her girls escaped from a traumatic life of domestic violence, leaving them homeless.
     But your support made all the difference for Cassie and her girls when they found a safe harbor in Bridge Communities. Thank you!
     Read Cassie’s story in our Fall Connections newsletter, and you will be inspired by her family’s courage!
     In this issue, you’ll also read about the amazing professional and personal successes achieved by Bridge families; a Q&A with our resource closet volunteer; details on all of Bridge’s upcoming events; and more.
     Because of friends like you, 130+ Bridge families this year will be connected a better, brighter future. Please make a gift today, so that all Bridge families can achieve safety and success, just like Cassie and her daughters.
     Thank you for being a friend to the families of Bridge Communities.

Pearls of Wisdom: The Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ Committee

September 5, 2018

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When a group of Glen Ellyn friends and neighbors joined together in 2009 to launch a block party/barbecue in their neighborhood, they didn’t expect it would soon become the largest amateur barbeque competition in the state of Illinois.

They didn’t know that their lives would be forever changed by their involvement with a nonprofit, either. But all of us at Bridge Communities sure are glad that was the case.

Says Chip Miller, Co-chairman of the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ, “We started the BBQ with the intention of bringing people to town, and we had to find a charity. Bridge was that charity, and I think it was about three or four years in that a lot of us decided that this was really a special place, and the work they do is incredible. And all the people that are on the committee are focused on the charity and want to make the best event possible, both to raise money for Bridge and to bring people to the community.”

Each year, the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ hosts approximately 60 teams competing in the ultimate barbecue cookoff, making ribs, chicken, side dishes and their own signature sauces. The event also welcomes thousands of attendees, enjoying the food and beer trucks, raffles, Piglet’s Playland kiddie area, and free concerts throughout the day and night.

Says Ralph Covert, who’s also a BBQ performer with his band Ralph Covert and the Bad Examples, “What Bridge has taught me is that the world is full of good people that are trying to help other people. That’s what they do at Bridge, and I’m honored to be able to help out through the BBQ event.”

Each year, the BBQ raises enough funding to house five homeless families for an entire year! “We’re really excited at the end of the day when we’ve realized we’ve raised $50,000 to $60,000 for Bridge to help the homeless families,” says Chip. “We’ve met some of the families, and they’ve spoken with us, and we’re always excited to get to know them.”

The 10th Annual Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ will be in downtown Glen Ellyn on Saturday, September 8—we look forward to celebrating 10 years of this philanthropy with you!

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

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