I still bask in the wonderfulness of our October Bridge dinner, the night we celebrated a mother’s successful completion of The Bridge to Hope program.
The Bridge to Hope accepted its first family January 2012. We could hardly call this first endeavor a success. This mother chose to leave the program prematurely, moving herself and her young son in with a man she had met at GED. Three additional families came and left without one of them graduating. Since then we have served a total of 17 families. This translates to 17 homeless women and 28 children, 47% of these mothers left The Bridge to Hope employed, which we are grateful. However, in contrast just under 20% left not only employed, but as ‘graduate’. I share this to show you that becoming a Bridge Graduate is no small achievement.
I have been told our program is not sustainable and the model of One Church One Family is not practical. I was told that Churches would not respond, volunteers would not stand with a mother, mentoring them for two years. They did not want to truly get to know them, learning their names, their hang-ups and successes. The church members would not volunteer; nowadays they do not desire to make a long term commitment. They prefer volunteerism on a once a year basis. Even homeless mothers do not want to make the commitment that is asked by The Bridge to Hope.
Sometimes when a mother suddenly chooses to leave without graduating from The Bridge to Hope program – I think they may be right. These “failures” have just been too heart breaking. The rejection experienced too overwhelming.
However, sometimes God delivers a church that responds to the call. He leads mentors that He prepares to stand next to a homeless single mother, and know her fully and continue to love her. And sometimes a mother is willing to take the journey to transform her life. God sometimes gives us the gift of seeing this ministry work boldly and provide in a mighty way, reminding us He is the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
The Bridge to Hope has recently experienced one of those successes. This one was the graduation and restoration of Rebecca for God’s glory, not B2H’s. We are just servants He chose to have a part in helping her rebuild her life.
Two years ago in a letter Rebecca included with her application, she wrote, “I ask you to please give me a chance to prove to myself, that I am not just another addict, give me a chance to better myself and be the mother I know I can be.”
Rebecca had had what I like to call a colorful past. This would include criminal activity, drug and alcohol abuse, and because of her lifestyle, her son had been taken from her and placed in foster care. God has brought about great change. Now she leaves us restored, employed, reunited with her son, and possessing a hope and a joy that only Christ can give.
I am grateful to the churches and the volunteers who do believe in the notion of fully loving and knowing a person, loving them enough to commit to them as they navigate from homelessness to wholeness. The concept of One Church One Family. If you are one of these churches, thank you. If you are one of our volunteer mentors, thank you. If you support B2H, thank you. If you are not, you can be. I welcome you to become one of these churches. Make a commitment to a homeless single family, give her a place to call home.
If you would like to experience a graduation like Rebecca’s, please join us at Amber’s at The Journey to Hope. Register today for The Journey to Hope.