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“My whole life changed for the better.” Bridge client Tony shares his story!

June 16, 2016

Tony2015 1Prior to 2012, Tony enjoyed joint custody of his four children; he had a steady job as a lead painter for a painting company; and he had a nice house in the northwest suburbs with his girlfriend. Then, life changed dramatically.

He was awarded full custody of his children once it was discovered that they had been neglected in an abusive home. His girlfriend moved out, leaving him with unaffordable rent. Then, his life continued to deteriorate quickly when he was laid off of work.

Soon, Tony found himself with no money, no job, and nowhere affordable for his family of five to live. “I was struggling to find a new place to live with my credit and financial situation,” Tony remembers. His sister had been a successful participant in Bridge Communities many years before, and recommended he apply. “Within a couple of days, I received a phone call from Will [Moeller, Manager of Intake Services], saying he wanted to interview me for the program.”

After going through the interview process, Tony’s family was accepted into Bridge, and, says Tony, “My whole life changed for the better. I was finally able to provide some stability for my children. Being involved in this program is the biggest blessing my kids and I have ever experienced.”

Since joining Bridge last year, Tony has participated in the job readiness class to prepare
him to get back into the workforce, and the redirecting children’s behavior workshop series, to teach the family how to cooperate and grow stronger together. His kids all enjoyed a summer camp daycare program last year, and two of his children now receive weekly tutoring as well.

The new life hasn’t come without challenges, though. Says Tony, “The hardest part is just trying to keep up with everything, day to day. Four kids and all that is involved in raising them keep me running 24/7. But, I thank God for giving me the strength to endure the challenges that life throws at me and sending me angels —my mentors [Kathy, Rick, Patty and Julie from THM Ministries] and the staff at Bridge—to help keep me focused and positive so that I can keep pushing on.”

According to Tony, life has begun to settle down for all of them, and they’re learning how to move forward. The kids have a structured day-to-day routine now, and are catching up in school. “My oldest, who had the most difficulty regarding school, is now getting all As and Bs,” says Tony. “I have landed a good job that is regular day shift hours, and I started school this spring for facilities management. We have been able to accomplish so much, and without Bridge and you, none of this would have been possible.”

Now that their life has begun to stabilize, they have the opportunity to set goals. Tony has paid off significant debt and is working toward building a solid foundation for the family’s future. “The main goals I have set for myself is to get my certification in maintenance, and proceed with my degree in facilities management,” says Tony. “I will also be in a position to buy my own house when I leave the program due to the help I received with learning to budget my money more conservatively.”

Molly Howieson, Tony’s case manager, couldn’t be prouder of Tony’s progress. “Tony has overcome a lot in his short time in our program,” says Molly. “Not only on the role of single parent and facing his children’s needs head-on, but his own goals of education and paying down his debts. He will be debt-free in a few short months and continues to save. I’m very proud of the structure he has brought to his children’s lives and how he has set boundaries and balance in his life.”

Tony and his children are grateful for the opportunities you’ve provided through your support of Bridge, and have vowed to pay the kindness forward. “My 12-year-old daughter has already begun this on her own, by volunteering with a special needs class at her school,” says Tony proudly. He adds, “For those of you supporting Bridge Communities, all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart. It may seem like such a little thing for some, but I assure you, it is life-changing for those of us that need the boost. It’s kind people like you that really show the rest of the world what we should all be doing for one another. Even the smallest gesture of kindness can save a life.”

Want to learn more about how you can help Bridge Communities families like Tony’s reach self-sufficiency? Click here! 

Read more about Tony’s family, and other Bridge Communities success stories, in our Spring 2016 newsletter

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