When a homeless family becomes part of Bridge Communities, their lives are transformed in major ways. They’re moved into a safe, stable apartment; they receive weekly mentoring from dedicated volunteers; and they’re connected to tutors, employment coaches, and community programming for their entire family.
We also realized that sometimes, it’s the little things that matter just as much. One client once told us that owning a dining room table was something she had thought would be out of her reach, and was now so grateful to have dinner with her family there every night. For others, it’s seeing their child start to smile again after settling into a routine.
Part of Bridge’s mission is helping restore our families’ confidence and dignity after going through the traumas of homelessness, and that’s why we’ve partnered with the Gotta Have Sole Foundation.
The organization was started in 2010 by a teenager named Nicholas Lowinger, who was inspired after learning that many children in a local homeless shelter didn’t have shoes that fit properly, or had to miss school frequently because they only had one pair of shoes to share among their siblings. He started to collect gently used shoes to donate, then new shoes. His dream became a foundation, and they now have given free, new shoes to more than 10,000 homeless children across America.
Now, children in Bridge Communities will be recipients of the program as well. Our Bridge Builders volunteer group has already measured the feet of about 50 children for shoe sizing, and we expect to measure about 40 more this summer. The kids will each receive a new pair of gym shoes in time for the upcoming school year, and everyone will get a new pair of socks from a collection drive conducted by Baird & Warner’s Glen Ellyn office as well.
A new pair of back-to-school shoes may be something that we and our kids take for granted, but for many Bridge families, it means stability and normalcy. It’s something that may be difficult to work into the budget when a family is trying to make ends meet and save for the future. We’re grateful to organizations like Gotta Have Sole for helping Bridge families take a step in a better direction.
Lisa Doyle is the communications manager for Bridge Communities