Berks County

A Church-Based Approach to Ending Family Homelessness

The Meaning in Mentoring

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A full measure of what Bridge of Hope is all about can be found in its name. A “Bridge”, when not referring to a physical structure, is defined as : “a time, place or means of connection or transition.” “Hope” is defined as: “an expectation of fulfillment or success.” A “Bridge of Hope”, if true to these terms, is a way for a single mom to carry herself and her kids from a place of dependence and frustration to a life of independence and personal achievement. Bridge of Hope is an invaluable organization, because it carefully selects a family whose motivation, skills, and personality show they are ready to build and journey over that bridge. But they are alone and without resources: no safe place to live; little furniture or clothing ; no caring shoulder to lean on; no person of experience to consult with. In response to their need, Bridge of Hope helps build a support network beneath each family. Bridge of Hope — very thoughtfully — trains us as mentors to be the human scaffolding for one family’s “bridge of hope”. We are there with time, talent and some small treasures, to support each family with the basics for them to build their own bridge. In my case, as one of the “guys” in our mentor group, that involved moving furniture up a few too many stairwells, helping with a resume, throwing rocks and sticks in Wyomissing Creek with Gabriel, and going to a car show. Others in our mentor group helped Janice with child care, with finding a car and obtaining car insurance, with setting up her family in a new city, and with loving support.

Soon, Janice will be graduated and no longer in need of our scaffolding. She and Gabriel will have built their Bridge of Hope and crossed over it to a better and happier life together. I cannot encourage others enough to consider volunteering to be a Bridge of Hope mentor. To feel God’s power and presence as we gather and work and pray together has been an unexpected blessing and an indelible memory for me. Bridge of Hope allows each mentor to be a building block in his or her own way. In that respect, every one of us is already trained and ready to contribute.

Bill Widing
Bridge of Hope Mentor