We hope you can join us at our annual Spring Luncheon on Friday, April 28, as we celebrate DuPage women’s commitment to the community. Their incredible gifts of time, talents and treasure will be recognized, as well as their efforts to make our communities a better place for homeless families. Celebrating Women, Transforming Lives will honor women with ties to DuPage County, and thank them for their philanthropy.
This year, Bridge Communities is proud to award Audra Hamernik, Executive Director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority, with the Transforming Lives Award. Audra is a longtime housing executive with more than 20 years of public and private industry experience. Prior to her role leading IHDA, Audra was principal of A. Hamernik & Associates, a consulting firm where she advised not-for-profit agencies like Bridge Communities on affordable housing development and funding strategies. Because of her advice, insight and dedication to affordable housing, Bridge Communities was able to grow the transitional housing program and serve significantly more homeless families than ever before. The impact of Audra’s insight will be felt by Bridge families for the rest of their lives, and it is with much gratitude that we present her with the Transforming Lives Award.
Steffi Reyes-Thomas came to Bridge Communities as a child with her mother Trina, and brother Dante. At the time, the Reyes family was recovering from the deportation of their father as well as the death of their grandmother. After collaborating with the Salvation Army to alleviate their homelessness short-term, Steffi and her family found themselves welcomed into Bridge Communities. Since completing the Bridge Communities program with her family, Steffi has gone on to graduate high school and earn a BFA in Interior Architecture and Design from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Steffi truly identifies with her career and sustainability plays a huge part in that. She pushes for greener practices and advancements in public health within the built environment via the USGBC and the International WELL Building Institute. Steffi credits her time in Bridge Communities with building her confidence and keeping her focused on her education, and we are thrilled to present her with the Life Transformed Award.
Returning to emcee the luncheon will be Emmy-winning journalist Judy Hsu. An integral part of the ABC 7 news team since 2001, Judy anchors the 11 AM and 4 PM newscasts for ABC 7 Chicago. In addition to her anchor responsibilities, Judy hosts a long-format interview segment on Sunday mornings called “Newsviews.” Judy hosted the Sleep Out Saturday rally for Bridge Communities in 2015, and warmly welcomed supporters of Bridge again at the 2016 luncheon. Judy resides in the western suburbs with her husband and four children.
The featured speaker at the luncheon will be Simone Salter, who was the teenage child in a Bridge family from 2013-2015. She currently resides in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn and is a sophomore majoring in Communications and double-minoring in Intercultural and Urban Studies at Elmhurst College. Her goal and hope is to inspire and encourage others like her to reach their fullest potential through sharing her experience with homelessness. Simone will share her moving story as a homeless youth in the Bridge Communities program and how she now thrives and encourages others to be catalysts for change in their communities.
Click here to purchase your ticket to the luncheon today! For more information about our 2017 luncheon, please contact Chad Pedigo at (630) 545-0610, ext. 19 or email@example.com.
“Buying a home is what most people dream of, and this spring, I bought my first home: a townhouse, just 10 minutes away from my job.”
Beatrice is right–it isn’t easy to make it in the Bridge Communities program. It’s a lot of hard work. It requires vulnerability. But for the 130+ Bridge families that you save each year, it’s life-changing. And often, it’s their only chance to break the cycle of homelessness forever.
“When my daughter Naya was 5 months old, I was working as a CNA and was also in nursing school. My dad gave us just a year to stay with them. At the end of that year, I was still in school, and on track to graduate. But he still told me we had to leave. With nowhere to go, I was about to become homeless.”
After Beatrice and Naya’s father split for good, Beatrice made the difficult decision to move back home. Her dad gave her a one-year deadline to move out. One year wasn’t enough, though.
Between working part-time, attending school and studying, she couldn’t make enough money to support herself and Naya. “I had prayed that my parents would give us just a few more months so I could finish school, but my dad wasn’t willing to do that,” Beatrice remembers. She was on the verge of homelessness.
“I was trying so hard to find a place, just a room to rent, but I couldn’t find anything, and I didn’t have anyone to help. I knew staying in school was my only hope, because it was my only gateway to a better future. If I were to drop out, it would have been the end for us.”
Can you imagine what that must have felt like? To be so alone, so scared–and so close to achieving your goals, only to have them slip through your fingers?
But, Beatrice has grit. She’s stronger than you can imagine. And we’ll share the second part of her story on Monday, December 12.
If you have been considering making a donation to Bridge Communities, the time is now. Because Bridge families need you now more than ever. Please make a year-end donation in honor of Beatrice and the 130 families you’re saving from homelessness this year.