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We are well in to our second month of being open to the public at The Bridge Care Center. The daily stop-ins from our neighbors are steadily increasing. We advertise that our services include a clothing bank, computer center, and counseling/case management services. The clothing bank is the most popular reason for individuals stopping by. The Ballard Food Bank is especially excited to pass on the word that we offer this service since they no longer operate a clothing bank at their facility.
We are more than a clothing bank. However, that, in itself, is meeting a great need, and it’s a starting point to building relationship with the homeless and low-income in our community. It’s amazing what a warm coat or an intact pair of shoes can do to bring some encouragement into a person’s life. It’s a statement that says, “hey, you are valuable and your needs are important to us”. Oftentimes this cues an individual that this is safe place where they can let down their walls. It’s incredibly beautiful to watch the volunteers at The Bridge listening to the stories of our friends.
From there we’ve had a few individuals who want more and will seek case management. For those who have asked for more help, many of the needs stem around medical, legal, financial, or housing needs. When you hear someone list off a number of difficult problems they are facing it’s easy to fall into that mode of either wanting to try and fix it right away or feeling completely helpless in being able to do anything at all. This is why I think it’s so important for us to come at these situations from the point of relationship. With this attitude it’s not about the immediate fix-it or forget it approach but about journeying alongside the individual.
Below are a few of the specific stories of people we have been privileged to assist. One gentleman had been struggling with making it to doctor’s appointments. He stated that he had short term memory problems and would just often forget to go to the appointments. We sat down and called his doctor to schedule a new appointment with him. To insure he would make the appointment, we arranged to give him a reminder the night before. He was able to make his appointment and is now seeking further assistance with us for other needs. There are a couple of individuals who have some medical needs and have been denied the assistance they need from DSHS. We have been assisting them in collecting the needed paperwork so that they can re-apply. Partnering with them to gather this paperwork seems to be helpful as they can often be overwhelmed with the grueling steps it takes to get the help they need. For some of our friends, just being able to sit in our space and read emails or a book can be the break that they need from their outdoor living. One man told me after spending a half hour in our space that it was the most comfortable and closest experience he has had to feeling like he had been back in his own home. All of these individuals began a relationship with us by first asking for resources from our clothing bank.
While none of these stories are as drastic as being able to say that we have “cured” and brought someone out of homelessness, they are very important. They are real stories of real people and people matter, whether homeless or not. We would like to invite you to be a part of these stories, too. Here are some ways that you can get involved: keep the work of our ministry in prayer, consider volunteering with us, and/or consider donating to our clothing bank.