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It All Starts With You: Our 2016 Annual Report

March 13, 2017

2016 all started with you, and your excitement and generosity toward helping Bridge families succeed. And we saw outstanding achievements from all our client families, from parents and children alike.

These achievements would not have been possible without you. We couldn’t be happier to share these accomplishments with you in the Bridge Communities 2016 Annual Report.

And, we also would like to share our 2-minute video recap of our 2016 Annual Report.

We are grateful that you have played an essential part in our growth, and more importantly, in our families’ success.

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You can put a Bridge family on the road to a better future

March 9, 2017
    IMG_1681 Meet K, one of the moms in the Bridge Communities transitional housing program.
     She’s a lot like all the parents we’re privileged to work with at Bridge. She had the strength to move forward after homelessness. She had embraced the Bridge program and was learning to budget. She had determination and the skills to work hard and provide for her family.
     The one thing she didn’t have was a reliable car. 
     Without a reliable car, K couldn’t get to work, her kid’s school, classes offered by Bridge–almost anywhere. Having consistent, reliable transportation would make or break her chance of success.
     And then, a Bridge supporter stepped in to save the day. This friend donated their used SUV to Bridge Communities, allowing K to stay on track and keep her job.
     You can save the day for a homeless parent like K when you donate your used car to Bridge Communities!
     Your car will be transferred directly to a homeless family, and your gift will help them get back on the road to a better future. Plus, your donated car may be eligible for a full tax deduction of the used car value.
    K couldn’t believe her luck when a donor stepped in and generously provided her with a car. She’s so grateful–and all of us at Bridge are, too. Because friends like you can make all the difference to keep a family on the road to success.
     To donate your car, please contact Tom Thiltgen at (630) 545-0610 ext. 14 or tom.thiltgen@bridgecommunities.org.
     Thank you for all you do for Bridge families!

Meet the speakers and honorees of Celebrating Women, Transforming Lives!

February 24, 2017

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 chad.pedigo@bridgecommunities.org.

Meet a family you rescued from homelessness on #GivingTuesday

January 23, 2017
t-family_frameOn November 29, when you supported #GivingTuesday at Bridge Communities, you changed the future for two more homeless families.
    Because of you, we were able to adjust our plans and bring two more families into the Bridge program, before the deep freeze set in. Thank you for making this possible!
     And now, we’ll introduce you to one of the families you rescued from homelessness.
     The T family, pictured here, is a mom and her 5-year-old daughter. We’re pleased to share that after a difficult autumn, they are now safely in a Bridge apartment and settling into their new life this winter. They’re proudly posing by the artwork that the little one made for her bedroom door–because she was so excited to have a bedroom again.
     Next month, we’ll introduce you to the J family and keep you posted on their transition into the Bridge program. In the meantime, click here to meet more Bridge families, and learn how your support is helping homeless families build a better, brighter future.
     Please know that you made all the difference in the world for the T family on #GivingTuesday. Thank you for being there when they needed you the most.

Beatrice’s Bridge Communities Story: The Conclusion

December 19, 2016
beatrice_cropIt was hard to balance work, school and family, but Naya was always my strength. She has always been happy, always strong. And she gave me the strength to do what I needed to improve myself. I know that everything I do, it’s for her.”

     Beatrice had been working her way through nursing school and caring for her daughter Naya when her parents told her she had to move out of the house.

     She was on the verge of homelessness and terrified. But you brought Beatrice and Naya into Bridge Communities. And they are forever grateful.
Beatrice worked hard to learn how to budget and save. She attended Bridge’s job readiness classes. She met with her mentors every week to keep herself on track. And she began to achieve her goals, one by one.

beatrice-3b     “While in the Bridge program, I graduated from school with my LPN in May 2014, right on track. I had been working at a senior living community, and once I passed my state boards, they started training me to stay on as a nurse. 

“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.”

     There’s even more happy news for Beatrice:

      “Before I left the Bridge program, I went back to my parents’ house one day. What had happened between us two years before was a burden that I’d had to carry, and it wasn’t healthy. I asked for my dad’s forgiveness, and he started crying. He stated that I was his child and he loved me, and he asked for my forgiveness, too.

      
     “Being in Bridge Communities was a great opportunity that I really needed. My life wouldn’t be where it is now without Bridge, and it means a lot to me. I’m at such peace now. I’m just in a happy place and I’m so grateful.”

     Thank you for reading Beatrice’s remarkable story from homelessness to hope. There are 130+ homeless families in Bridge Communities, just like Beatrice, that you can help each year. Please make a donation in their honor at www.bridgecommunities.org.

Beatrice’s Bridge Communities Story: Part 2

December 12, 2016
beatrice-2b“It was 9 AM on Christmas Eve when I had my last interview with Bridge Communities, and my life changed forever. We went over to the apartment, and I saw that it had 2 bedrooms. I just started crying. I couldn’t believe I was actually getting a 2-bedroom home. Without Bridge, I didn’t know how I was going to provide for Naya. It was a blessing to have this new space. And it was the best Christmas present ever.”

     Three years ago, Beatrice had been working her way through nursing school and caring for her baby daughter, when her parents told her she couldn’t live in their home anymore.

     She was about to become homeless. But friends like you stepped in and saved her.

    Currently, we have 9 families on our waiting list, just as scared as Beatrice was when she was praying to be accepted into the Bridge program.

     Will you please make a gift today to bring these families in from the cold this holiday season?

beatrice-3a_crop “My mentors told me, ‘Anyone can come through this program. What matters is what you do while you’re here.’ I knew my mentors would be there to support me, but my future was up to me. Because being in Bridge is what you make of it.

     “This is a great opportunity to better yourself. It’s hard to expose yourself and your personal issues. But my mentors were always pushing me to do better and helping me learn how to save. I needed to learn how to save enough so that I’d be able to successfully graduate from the program.”

      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.

     Please keep an eye on this blog next Monday, December 19, when we share the remarkable conclusion of Beatrice’s story. (Or, is it only the beginning…?)

     Until then, please make a gift to Bridge Communities, and you’ll save 9 more families from homelessness this year. Because we can’t save them without you.

Beatrice’s Bridge Communities Story: Part 1

December 5, 2016

bridgeb2016-23

“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.

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