Bridges Out of Poverty Training

In April we offered a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop to help members of the community better understand the limitations of living in poverty and how we can enable change. While some attendees represented nonprofit organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul, others came for their own personal knowledge and understanding.

Chris Haas, facilitator, discussed the hidden rules among economic classes, as well as barriers faced. One barrier, access to affordable groceries, is something attendee Mary Lober had never considered. A person living in poverty may not live near or have transportation to a grocery store, forcing the individual to shop within walking distance, often at gas stations, where food is much more expensive.

Bob Benson, an attendee from St. Vincent de Paul and Bridges of Hope, feels the workshop changes the perception of generational poverty. Our Bridges Out of Poverty workshops are based on Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities by Ruby Payne, Phil DeVol, and Terie Dreussi-Smith. The book offers many insights into the mindsets of people in poverty and the hidden rules by which they live.

Summer Enrichment Program

Our Summer Enrichment Program will offer a healthy lunch and various enriching activities to the children in low-income neighborhoods throughout July and August. The program, directed by Bridges of Hope Vice President Nancy Heilig, will also provide numerous children the opportunity to visit the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Dairy Discovery, Roller World, and the Kingsman Museum. New to the program is the chance to be in a play as part of the Children’s Summer Theatre Group.

We would like to express our gratitude to the Allegan County Community Foundation for the TAG Grant to fund this program, as well as to Clearwater Financial for their generous contribution.

Housing Help Program

Bridges of Hope attempts to combat poverty from every angle. Our newest effort is our Housing Help Program, which helps locate housing for individuals who have been approved for housing assistance through the Housing Assessment Resource Agency of Allegan County Community Mental Health Services.

With answers to a few basic questions about a person’s situation, we can help to resolve paperwork issues and get them pointed in the right direction. By creating a list of available apartments that fit specific needs and for which applicants qualify, we can help them avoid paying unnecessary application fees.

We Are Grateful to Our Funders

During the second quarter of 2016 we were fortunate to be blessed with several grants:

The Allegan County Community Foundation’s Legacy Grant awarded us $9,000 for client programs, volunteer training, community events, and wages for our administrative assistant.

The Allegan County Community Foundation’s TAG Grant awarded us $500 for our Summer Enrichment Program.

The Anna R. Pipp Endowment Fund awarded us $1,000 to fund the building of our website, (coming soon).

The United Methodist Church’s Unified Fund Grant awarded us a quarterly payment of $850 for Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’-By World workshops, workbooks, and facilitator training.

Bridges of Hope is so grateful for all of the grants received! They allow us to continue working toward our goal of eliminating poverty in Allegan County. We would also like to thank the Plainwell Meijer for their gift card donation to provide meals for participants during our Getting Ahead workshops.

The first half of 2016 has been incredibly productive and rewarding, and we’re glad to be able to do more good work going forward.

Jenifer Mitchell is an administrative assistant with Bridges of Hope, Allegan County.