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Can one Person Really Make a Difference for the Homeless?

October 5, 2007

The average age of a homeless person in DuPage County is eight. Of the 45,000 DuPage County residents living in poverty, 30% are under age five. While these facts are startling, there is good news: for just $25, you can provide a shelter night for a homeless child at Bridge Communities.

Here’s a true story to help explain:

Bridge Communities began in 1988. It started out with a dad whose kids were in high school and college and was asked by his church to volunteer one evening at the local PADS – that’s a temporary shelter for people to stay one night. When he got there, he was shocked to see how many kids were in need of a place to stay. Most of these children were under the age of 10 and were usually there with just their mom. When he returned back to his comfy home, he continued to be nagged by the fact that there were lots of children in DuPage County that had no place to live on a permanent basis. How could these kids learn in school, do homework, or just have fun and play when they were constantly being moved around each night?

So this dad decided to do something and asked a number of his friends at church to hear him out. This group committed to pitching in dollars to buy one apartment where they would begin to make a permanent home for at least one or two families out there. He thought, “I may not be able to help all of those families, but at least I can start by helping one or two.”

The project snowballed and today it’s called Bridge Communities. And that dad is Mark Milligan who is the President and co-founder of Bridge. Now Bridge is responsible for providing permanent housing for over 95 families per year. Not only does Bridge provide housing, they provide all the support services to teach these families how to turn their lives around. The parents go to school to get better paying jobs, learn how to budget, figure out where they went wrong and begin to make smarter choices. After two years, these families are back on their own and most of them have learned and worked hard to make a better life for themselves. It’s not easy. Many times single moms are going to school during the day, coming home to take care of their children, possibly working at night and then coming home late to study.

Thanks to great companies like Harris Bank and Icon Digital Design, they help with the cost of putting on a Sleep Out Saturday. Every “Sleep Out Saturday” sleeper that can raise $25 has brought one child in from the cold for one night. Just think if you asked five of your friends to sleep out with you and you each raised $100 in pledges, your small group of friends will have now brought in FOUR children for SIX nights! Small things add up. Every little bit counts. Just remember the snowflake that turned into the huge snowball!

Please decide to make a difference. Ask your friends to join you to raise some pledges for a great cause. Not only will you and your fiends have an awesome time, you will all sleep a little better at night knowing you helped someone else do the same!

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