Our mission is to foster relationships with individuals desiring to move out of poverty by providing tools, support, education, and connections to community resources.
View this email in your browser
Happy New Year!  As we transition from one year to the next, we all seem to reflect on what has transpired and look forward to new possibilities.  As you consider the possibilities for the new year, my challenge to you is to examine your way of thinking about poverty and your response to this problem in the United States.

“Diagnosis: Poverty—A new approach to understanding and treating an epidemic,” by Marcella Wilson, PhD, suggests we transition our thinking of poverty as “a social condition, an enigma too large to conquer due to weakness and character flaws, to thinking of poverty as a health condition.”* Dr. Wilson notes that “no one wants to be poor”* and individuals living in poverty are exposed to conditions that make them sick. “The healthcare industry recognizes that exposure to these social determinants is a direct cause of, or exacerbates, many illnesses.”*  Just as lead poisoning, asbestos exposure, HIV-AIDS, and the Zika virus are all environmentally based conditions, so is poverty.*  “In the existing system to treat poverty in the United States, clients with the fewest resources—limited access to phones, transportation, and computers, and many with limited ability to read—are expected to self-navigate not just one complex system but four systems: healthcare, human services, government and education services.”*  Dr. Wilson’s strategy is to “provide each client with a direct-care professional trained to conduct  solution-focused interventions; link referrals; follow up and coach; and guide the customer through life’s obstacles—obstacles that create setbacks, not hopelessness,”* helping clients build a future story by asking ‘What is your dream?not ‘What do you need?’”*

This is what Bridges of Hope, Allegan County is trying to do!  Our mission is to foster relationships with individuals desiring to move out of poverty by providing tools, support, education, and connections to community resources.  We seek to give clients hope to rise above their circumstances and encourage them along their path to overcoming the barriers that keep them from achieving their goals.

Dr. Wilson’s book has created a desire for me to establish poverty as a treatable condition, both within our organization and in the community as a whole.  I encourage each of you to read the book and, most importantly, GET INVOLVED!  Join us on the quest to make changes in how we view and treat poverty.  You can get involved in a variety of ways: join the Board of Directors or a committee, become an Encourager, provide transportation or coordinate/prepare a meal for workshops or events, influence government policy, help find housing solutions, and more.  To find out more, call us at 269-204-6041, email us at, or visit our website at

                                                                                      Gail J. Hill
                                                                                      Board President

*Wilson PhD, Marcella. Diagnosis: Poverty – A new approach to understanding and treating an epidemic. aha! Process, 2017.
Hopefully you have already had a chance to explore our new website, launched at the start of 2017: We would also like to introduce the new email addresses associated with the site. While we encourage you to save and use our new contact information, please rest assured that we will continue to receive correspondence at our old addresses as well during this transition.
This year, a group of hard-working children from our Summer Enrichment Program took part in our first Children's Summer Theatre Group. Participants rehearsed throughout the summer for their performance of Snow White Lite in August. Everyone did a fantastic job and gained self-confidence in the process. Free-will donations accepted at the performance were used to fund a field trip to Craig's Cruisers for performers. We appreciate the hard work of all our diligent volunteers that made this program possible!
We will offer Getting Ahead and R Rules workshops, designed to help individuals struggling with poverty set and work toward goals to improve their lives, as well as Staying Ahead activities, for Getting Ahead and R Rules graduates to learn and network, throughout 2017. Bridges out of Poverty workshops are also available upon request. Contact our office at or 269-204-6041 for more information or if you would like to get involved as a volunteer.


Gail Hill, President
Nancy Heilig, Vice-President
Christopher Harris, Treasurer
Donna Gorton, Secretary
Karen Koehn, Board Member
Robert Benson, Board Member
Richard Adams, Board Member
Joshua Murphy, Board Member

We are in need of more caring Board Members from the community. Contact us if you are interested in learning more.


Gift Cards - Meijer, Staples, etc.
Digital Camera
Printer Paper
Postage Stamps
Bagless Upright Vacuum
Folding Step Ladder
Meals (for participants during workshops)

Bring new or gently used items to our office Tuesdays/Thursdays 9am-3pm.
From Getting Ahead and Staying Ahead to our Summer Enrichment Program and Housing Help Program, all of our programs were made possible by volunteers and donors. We would like to recognize everyone who donated their time: our Board of Directors and Committee members, those who provided meals or transportation, Facilitators, childcare providers, and everyone in between. We would also like to thank the individuals and organizations that have made in-kind donations this year, valued at over $8000. This includes supplies donated for our office and our programs, meals for program participants (from Meijer, Arby's, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, McDonald's and various thoughtful individuals), office space (graciously provided, rent-free, by Clearwater Financial), and so much more. We were also fortunate enough to receive an anonymous donation specifically for the purchase of a projector for use during our programs as well as meetings within the community.

We would like to show our appreciation for the funding we received in 2016. This includes individual donations, a fashion show fundraiser hosted by Envy of Plainwell, funding from Women Who Care, and the following grants: a Walmart Foundation Grant, the ACCF Legacy Grant, the ACCF TAG Grant, the ACCF Senior TAG Grant, the Delano Foundation Grant, the UMC Kalamazoo District Ministry Grant, the United Methodist Unified Grant, the ELCA SW Michigan Synod Grant, and the Anna R Pipp Endowment.

  • We obtained a Social Work intern from Western Michigan University who assisted with intake for our program participants, aided in the grant-writing process, and worked with volunteers during events in the community.
  • We hired a part-time Administrative Assistant to run our office, help promote our organization, and contribute to grant-writing.
  • We gained a new Treasurer with auditing and accounting experience.
  • We celebrated the move into an office of our very own (due to a gracious donation by Clearwater Financial) with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House.
  • We had a website ( designed and built to ensure information about our programs and organization is available 24-7.
  • We began offering our Housing Help Program, designed to help determine and eliminate barriers to housing, reduce the amount of paperwork completed, and minimize the number of application fees paid when a low-income individuals is searching for housing.
  • We created a Children's Summer Theatre Group, as part of our Summer Enrichment Program, to allow children in a low-income neighborhood the opportunity to explore the world of drama.
  • We offered three Getting Ahead workshops and began an R Rules workshop to help guide participating individuals along the path to self-sustainability.
  • We offered a cooking class conducted by MSU Extension to our Staying Ahead participants. We also hosted a Staying Ahead Picnic for Getting Ahead graduates and their families to encourage continued relationships and networking.
  • We offered two Bridges out of Poverty workshops to educate the community about poverty and the limitations individuals face while struggling to rise above it.
  • We served a Volunteer Recognition Brunch in June to express our appreciation for all of the wonderful volunteers that help to make our work possible.
Copyright © 2017 Bridges of Hope, Allegan County, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp