Love is something so many of us take for granted. To have the love of a parent, a spouse, a child, or a friend. It is a given in many of our lives. Unfortunately, many of our shelter guests have never experienced unconditional love or have suffered enough abuse or trauma that it is something they cannot even comprehend, even given it freely. At Bridges of Hope (BOH), our goal is to share love, to share hope, to share an unconditional concern with the future and success of our guests. Recently two very different circumstances were made clear to our staff. A woman who is working to free herself of the chains of addiction and learning to find her self-value, who is working on getting a job and building up her life slowly. A man who has a job, now has a home, but still suffers from severe emotional trauma and all the baggage that that brings with it. Both have come through our shelter, their traumas and struggles brought to the forefront by the glaring spotlight of homelessness. Both might look like successes in the light of the world, but who still suffer from their past, still carry their burdens heavily, still need the extra time and care to maintain their journey towards real change.
At BOH, our goal is to not just provide a temporary space for shelter, but a forward-looking support system that continues on the journey with our guests. Their stays may be short, but their roads are long, and we want to be able to walk that road with them with love, compassion and sustaining hope. Our journey at BOH is a part of building this support system, of building this “Hub of Hope.” Will you journey with us?
2020 has been a year of challenges for all of us, and BOH is no exception. However, it has also been a year of answered prayer and blessings. In March, we saw the completion of our long-awaited fire suppression system, paving the way for permanent occupancy and future expansion. When COVID reared its ugly head, we were unable to apply for much of the pandemic relief funds, but a grant from the SBA for PPP funding helped us maintain our staff levels. Then, you (our donors) all stepped up to give an additional $24,000 that helped us offer some expanded hours while most of the businesses that usually allow our guests to eat and use their restroom facilities during the day were closed. The City of Xenia also stepped in to provide picnic tables, a Porta John and a portable handwashing station on our property for our guests to use during the state-wide shutdown. (Thanks to the quick work of our shelter director and the Public Health group we were grateful to only have had to close for 3 weeks to reset and put safe practices in place.) During it all, our guests and staff have remained Covid-free. We have learned new ways to meet the continuing needs of our homeless community as we implemented policies to keep them healthy.
As we approach the new year, there are several new and recurring expenses facing us. We are currently working to attain permanent occupancy of the shelter area. While this will require that we meet current building codes in a school building built in 1975, it will eliminate the need to pursue inspections every fall as we gear up for the winter shelter season. Upgrades to doors, emergency lighting, and other improvements are either in the works, or will need to be done soon. We are also requesting temporary occupancy of the central part of the building, where we plan to offer much needed life classes, recovery meetings, and space for partner agencies to connect with our guests and help them continue their journey towards real change. This will also require some changes, along with architects’ and engineers’ fees. It will all be well worth it as we expand our ability to help our guests address their emotional and mental issues, find treatment programs, look for employment, and secure permanent housing,
Moving BOH from an emergency adult shelter to the comprehensive “Hub of Hope” that we have always envisioned will require that we “step up” our game. We are working on a plan to hire a new Executive Director who can head up our fundraising, public relations, staff management and project oversight. We are trusting God to lead us to the right person, someone who can manage the organizational aspects of our ministry, but who also has a heart for people that have been subject to homelessness due to their addictions, mental health needs, or employment issues. We want someone who understands that it is not enough to GIVE someone what they need without teaching them how to obtain it and maintain it on their own.
Because hiring an Executive Director will require a big increase in our payroll, a friend of the ministry has stepped up to offer to match the first $30,000 we raise before the end of the year. As you consider Christmas (the ultimate season of hope) and your year-end giving, will you take this opportunity to make your gift go even farther? Partner with us to continue to share love and hope to those in need. Taking someone off the street for a night seems simple, but the journey past homelessness is long, tough and requires resilience and support. Will you help us love our guests by providing financially for the future of Bridges of Hope?