Bridges of Hope, Allegan County is a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster relationships with individuals desiring to move out of poverty by providing tools, support, education, and connections to community resources.
We offer a 16-week workshop called Getting Ahead using “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’-By World” by Philip Devol to individuals living in poverty. Getting Ahead helps participants build their own path to a good-paying job, stable housing, and the ability to save for a rainy day. Individuals are treated as the experts on their own lives, rather than expected to passively soak up information professionals deem as necessary for improvement. A small stipend is paid for attending the workshop sessions.
At the end of the Getting Ahead program, any individual who is interested in going further is referred to our Staying Ahead program. Volunteers encourage each individual in order to strengthen their skills and connect them with people and resources so they can become self-sufficient and walk out of poverty. These groups may participate in activities, learn from a speaker of interest, or network among themselves.
Summer Enrichment Program
In an effort to reduce the amount of generational poverty, we work with at-risk children from a low-income neighborhood throughout the summer months. Our Summer Enrichment Program provides nutritious lunches and helps to reduce summer learning loss by engaging the children in educational and enriching field trips and activities. This interaction creates an opportunity for relationships that can last a lifetime and allows us to connect with parents who may benefit from our other programs.
Housing Help Program
Our Housing Help Program seeks to help low-income individuals overcome barriers to obtaining housing by connecting them to community resources. We review each individual’s situation to make personalized recommendations to resolve issues with utilities, credit or criminal history, and previous tenant/landlord issues. Based on housing preferences, we direct the individuals to the most suitable, available housing facilities, reducing the number of unnecessary housing application fees. We also assist the individuals in completing any required paperwork along the way.
Bridges out of Poverty
Bridges of Hope, Allegan County offers other agencies, educators, community leaders, businesses and employers a one-day seminar called Bridges out of Poverty. The purpose of the seminar is to give community leaders from all sectors a new lens through which they can view themselves, their clients, and the community. They can then begin to make changes that incorporate the ideas and techniques Ruby Payne sets forth in her book “Bridges out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities” to improve relationships and outcomes.
As much as we can, we want to build relationships with local, county, and state legislators to educate them about the Bridges concepts and influence policy-making decisions that impact people in poverty.
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