Bridges to Independence does what its name says: it leads individuals and families from homelessness into stable, independent futures. Each year, hundreds of people in crisis find refuge – at Sullivan House (an emergency shelter for families) and through rapid re-housing services. The mandate is to make their homelessness brief, and ensure that no family experiences it again. Clients move quickly into safe, affordable, and permanent housing, and receive case management, robust employment services, and financial literacy training to ensure long-term stability. Two-thirds of clients are under age 18, so Bridges provides an extensive youth program to help improve academic skills, explore college and career pathways, and build confidence – invaluable support for young people who have endured trauma. Last year, 100% of high school seniors graduated and enrolled in college. These are our neighbors; they deserve a place to call home.
With the exception of its shelter, which remains open, programs – specifically case management and youth development (including tutoring and mentoring) – have moved online. Bridges has created anti-boredom bundles to engage virtual volunteers and keep youth entertained! The in-person Lemonade Stand, pivoted to "Lemonade with a Twist," where youth made artwork that was later auctioned off to the community, and proceeds went back to the youth (as they would with the Lemonade Stand) so that they could open their first savings accounts.