After Prudence Pease, a national consultant with aha! Process, led a community discussion explaining the Bridges Out of Poverty model, Community Credit Union in Lewiston, Maine, decided to be a catalyst to help others understand and implement the Bridges model.

Community Credit Union employee Delan Fulgham said that the Community now has four Bridges certified trainers, who will provide the Bridges Out of Poverty workshop for the community and will build community collaborations.

Among the trainers’ favorite pieces of the Bridges model is the client life cycle, an activity that helps organizations see issues in processes and procedures within their organizations that cause barriers for clients and how that can be changed. This training has been done with a hospital, and, as a result, seven doctor’s offices changed their appointment process for their clients. Staff of a nursing home heard about this information, and they identified onboarding issues they had and worked to eliminate those issues. The Bridges workshop was presented at the local college, and as a result, the college changed an enrollment procedure that impacted students who receive financial aid.

The Bridges model is being implemented on the individual, institutional, and community level in Lewiston. Four Community Credit Union employees are Bridges certified trainers. Plans are in the works to offer Getting Ahead classes this fall. At the institutional level, the Community Credit Union board of directors and almost all the staff at the credit union, which went through the customer life cycle for each department, have been trained in Bridges. This helped identify which current processes can be changed. Department heads will use this information for strategic planning.

A Bridges steering committee has been started. They identified a barrier involving community food pantries, which were open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., hours that did not help working people who may have been struggling with food insecurity. To fix the problem, one of the local food pantries switched their hours to better serve those in need.