Bridge Communities: Working Hard To Reduce Homelessness

For many of us thinking about a life where we don’t have a place to sleep or enough money to eat is simply ridiculous. However, Yosef Meystel knows that there are many individuals and families who don’t have a place to spend the night or don’t know it tomorrow is going to be better than today. Luckily for these families, in Illinois, there is a philanthropic institution in charge of taking care of their needs and teaching them how to be self-sufficient. This charity is called Bridge Communities.

This nonprofit in Illinois works as a housing program that goes far beyond housing needs. It helps homeless individuals and families living in the DuPage County to find a place to live in while they learn how to manage their finances and improve their lifestyle. Bridge Communities offers a furnished house to those who need it. Families can live up to two years in a comfortable place while they get financial coaching, therapy, nutritional counseling and even career advice and interview preparation. In other words, this fantastic nonprofit offers families the chance of getting back on their feet and having a second chance of doing things better.

Becoming self-sufficient takes time and support. Bride is committed to providing free aids to those who need it. This way the organization benefits over 130 families each year, thanks to the help and will of a resourceful group of volunteers and donors. The organization is able to cover about $3 million dollars in housing and coaching expenses every year due to the collective effort of those involved with the nonprofit’s cause.

Families who get the chance to be supported by Bridge go through an educational process where they learn about budgeting skills, how to save money and getting better jobs. At the end of two years, each family member who attended the courses gets a diploma from the organization. These initiatives strive to make community members independent. This idea motivates Bridge to work hard for contributing to the growth of a community where homelessness is not an issue and everyone has access to affordable housing.

How did all start?

One day Bob Wahlgren and Mark Milligan gathered together to rent an apartment for a homeless family they wanted to help. In time, this act of kindness grew and gathered hundreds of volunteers who wanted to have a real impact on their community. This is how Bridge Communities was born.

Building a better road to give others a better life is perhaps one of the main goals of this organization. Since 1988, a group of volunteers and donors who believe that eradicating homelessness is a matter of education and empowering people has been working to build new paths towards a better life. At first, many were doubtful about such an initiative. But, having two businessmen working hard for a visionary model where each homeless family had access to a mentor and a professional to manage their case, was key to the success of this nonprofit.

Along the years, Bridge has expanded and grown to offer different types of services. Each new services is meant to change the lives of homeless families in different ways. This is how the organization has become a national leader in terms of serving those who don’t have a place to stay. Providing affordable housing and training people on how to find a well-paid job are some of the pillars of the transitional housing program created by this nonprofit.

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Image courtesy of Aimee Ray at Flickr.com

Transitional Housing

This service is meant to providing a decent place to live to those families who need it. Providing apartments and supportive services, Bridge guarantees homeless individuals and families will improve their life quality and will develop the necessary skill to be self-sufficient and live independently. Transitional housing programs include coaching, professional case management and, education tutoring, among other programs.

The transitional housing program in Bridge Communities is built based on the following concepts:

  • Housing: Offering a decent two bedroom apartment located in the DuPage County for an average time of two years.
  • Mentoring: Assisting homeless families while they work to develop the needed skills to be self-sufficient. This assistance included mentoring on subjects such as savings plan, budget development, emotional support and, healthy decision making.
  • Employment: Helping families secure and maintain a job that will help them pay for their expenses and become independent economically.
  • Case Management: Providing professional assistance to families that will empower and allow them to achieve their goals. This item is completely supported by volunteer case managers who want to mentor families in need.
  • Tutoring: Sometimes homelessness affects school attendance. This is why Bridge aims to provide professional and certified teachers to tutor children and help them achieve academic success. Education is a great way to break generational poverty and empower individuals of a young age to be aware, socially committed and have higher academic goals.
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