As we approach the close of 2019, I continue to be amazed and gratified at the generosity and support of our community, and the way the God is using all of you to make a difference in the lives of people who pass through our doors. They come from a variety of backgrounds, each with different challenges, different needs.
Jane was a single mother with a 19-year-old autistic son. I remember her first night at the shelter, when she left her son with a relative and came to Bridges of Hope to see if she was welcome there, and if it was a safe place to bring her son, David. She sat quietly, watching the shelter guests and learning the routines. After a few nights, she brought her son with her and helped him get settled in. Jane and David had been living with her mother, who was elderly and had to be moved to a nursing home. She had a good, dependable car that provided her with both transportation and employment, but she did not make enough money to move into her own apartment. Shortly after coming to Bridges of Hope, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Her treatment would take place at the James Cancer Center in Columbus, but she had no one to care for David while she traveled back and forth. Our staff worked to help her make connections in Columbus that provided her with an apartment where she and David could stay together while she pursued treatment. After settling in, she called Bridges of Hope to thank us for making it possible for her to navigate a difficult time in her life.
Stories like Jane’s are only possible because people like you have embraced the vison of Bridges of Hope. We are giving the gift of hope to our guests…with your support! Over the last year, your financial donations, gifts of supplies, prayers, and encouragement have enabled us to provide food and shelter to our guests while we work with them to find solutions to the problems of unemployment, poverty, addiction, mental health challenges, physical health needs, and other barriers that contributed to their homelessness. Your partnership has enabled us to secure grants that have repaired an aging boiler system at a fraction of the cost of replacement, replace a hot water heater, installed security systems, repaired gaping drainage holes in our parking lot, and this month, begin the long awaited installation of a sprinkler system that will play a pivotal role in future plans. Your direct financial support has paid our utility bills and allowed us to hire staff that provided the stability and oversight that are so critical to our guests’ success.
We rejoice at our victories and successes, but there is so much left to do. In 2020, Bridges of Hope will move into Phase II of our plans, building on the dream of becoming a “hub of hope” for those experiencing the effects of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, and substance abuse. First, we will become a year-round shelter and will begin offering some daytime classes and work teams for our shelter guests. As we work to gain occupancy of more of the building, we will be able to provide more opportunities to connect local agencies to our guests and to build more networks of professionals and volunteers that can help address the root causes of homelessness for our guests. We will also begin a capital campaign to raise money to renovate the entire western portion of the building into a permanent shelter facility that will provide greater security and stability to our shelter program.
As we reach the end of 2019, we are facing a serious shortfall in our operating budget. Because of the generous support of the community, we are able to operate Bridges of Hope on a very tight budget, but our 2019 budget of $150,000 was based on operating the shelter for only nine months of the year. Because we were able to open for the months of July through October, we exceeded our operating budget by $35,000 and depleted our reserves. While we have been able to pay the bills week to week thanks to the generosity of our community, we are trusting that God will move people’s hearts in this final month of the year to help us exceed our immediate expenses, start the new year strong financially and continue to do what He has called us to do.
Would you partner with us now, and in the year ahead to offer hope to those who have little in their lives to hope for? As a Bridge Builder, you can make a one-time gift that will help us meet our operational expenses or provide capital funds for renovations and repairs to our building. You can also become a Hope Partner by pledging a recurring monthly gift for 2020. Click this link to go to our donation page to begin your gift to Bridges of Hope.
As you pray around the family table this holiday, please say a special prayer for the guests at Bridges of Hope, guests like Jane, that the year ahead will bring positive changes that enable them to become productive, self-sufficient members of our community. We are thankful for each one of you and pray that God will bless you abundantly in the year ahead. Thank you for being part of what He is doing at Bridges of Hope!