2015  Annual Report
Our mission is to foster relationships with individuals desiring to move out of poverty by providing tools, support, education and connections to community resources.
After nearly 2-1/2 years of investigating models of how to address the issue of poverty, it feels wonderful to be finally taking steps toward accomplishing our goal. So much has been accomplished since we were incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit in August of 2014.
Many hours of behind the scenes work have gone into developing the infrastructure to support our effort. The work of our Board of Directors (two of whom attended a 2015 National Poverty Conference) and over forty volunteers contributed to all the success that was achieved. Our more visible accomplishments include:
  • Offered one Bridges Out of Poverty workshop
  • Held three 16-week Getting Ahead workshops – we have had 26 graduates from April 2015 to April 2016
  • Trained one volunteer to be a Bridges Out of Poverty Facilitator
  • Trained four volunteers to be Getting Ahead Facilitators
  • Held a Summer Enrichment Program for a low-income neighborhood (read more below in Spotlight Community Impact)
  • Prepared and served the Teen Serve Welcome Lunch for 200-300 young people
I’m proud to be a part of such a great organization that is willing to walk alongside folks to help them become economically stable and sustainable members of the community.  Please follow us on Facebook at to watch what we are doing.

Gail Hill
Board President
One of our clients is a 28 year old man named Josh who is a self-described trouble child. After quitting school in the 6th grade to work with his father, he faced many hurdles, including years of homelessness and being diagnosed with mental health issues. Despite it all, he persevered, never blaming others. A few years ago, Josh received help with both housing and his mental health and decided to turn his life around. He began working on his physical well-being through exercise and a healthy diet and enrolled in Adult Education to get his GED.
While attending Adult Education, Josh was encouraged to participate in our Getting Ahead workshop. He was described by the teacher and principal as generally coming into school with his head down, keeping to himself. After attending our Getting Ahead workshop for several weeks, he began to open up, made some friends and became an integral part of the class. He even began tutoring other students working toward their GED.
Josh has since developed a Getting Ahead application form for Bridges of Hope, is a Co-Facilitator for our current Getting Ahead workshop at Adult Education and was approved as a member of our Board of Directors.
Josh had obtained employment, but the employer’s health insurance did not cover his mental health care, a necessary component of his mental and emotional well-being. Josh was forced to quit his job and resume Medicaid benefits in order to receive these services. He does receive income for being a care provider for his father who is on disability while struggling with cancer. Josh is hopeful his father’s cancer treatments will be successful but says he is worried about a life without his father.
Bridges of Hope continues to encourage Josh and offer a friendly community to help him in his quest to become self-sufficient. Josh feels that Getting Ahead has helped him to feel like he is part of a community and is glad to be able to give back by serving as a Co-Facilitator.
Bridges of Hope seeks to reach the community in a variety of ways. One neighborhood, in particular, has experienced this benevolence. We offered a Summer Enrichment Program to at-risk youths in a low-income neighborhood in Plainwell. The program reduced hunger and summer learning loss for about 50 youths by providing nutritious lunches twice a week in July and August and engaging them in enrichment activities. Meals were provided by the federal free lunch program, meeting all nutrition standards, and transportation to activities was provided by Plainwell Community Schools. Thanks to volunteers, such as Kathy Green and Anna Kruizenga, we were able to offer enrichment activities including sewing stuffed animals, making pottery turtles, having a cooking competition, enjoying a visit from the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department, and learning about snakes during a visit from the Nature Center. Field trips included learning about hawks at the Nature Center, visiting the Way We Worked traveling Smithsonian exhibit in Plainwell, getting active at Roller World, and experiencing the flight simulator at the Air Zoo. These activities maintained learning connections over the summer and built relationships with mentors, including several high school volunteers who served as positive role-models. The 2015 Summer Enrichment Program ended with a Family Day in August, when the children and their parents gathered for lunch and camaraderie.
We eagerly anticipate adding more educational activities in 2016 as we meet every Tuesday and Thursday during July and August. Lunches for the 2016 Summer Enrichment Program will be provided by the Plainwell Clearwater Financial office and the First United Methodist Church.
Bridges of Hope is proud of all that was accomplished in 2015 with the help of our volunteers. We had over 40 volunteers perform various responsibilities, including food preparation, transportation, working as Encouragers, and much more. One individual provided more than 500 hours of work as an Administrative Assistant. Bridges of Hope offers a heart-felt thanks to each of our volunteers! We would also like to thank Community Action of Allegan County, who partnered with us in offering our first Getting Ahead workshop in 2015 and all of our Facilitators as well as the Allegan County Community Foundation Tag Grant team for their assistance with the Summer Enrichment Program.
We would like to express our gratitude for the grants we received in 2015, as well. They provided financing for many of the activities offered and functions performed by Bridges of Hope. The grants received include the Allegan County Community Foundation Legacy Grant, the Allegan County Community Foundation Tag Grant, the United Way Matching Grant, the Evangelical Lutheran Church SW Michigan Synod Grant, the Rural Partners Grant, and the Mignon Sherwood DeLano Foundation Grant.
We will be holding a Getting Ahead workshop at the First Presbyterian Church of Allegan. Classes will be held each Tuesday from 9 am to 11 am from April 12 to July 26. To sign up, email us at  or call 269-685-5113 ext. 102.

President: Gail Hill
Vice President: Nancy Heilig
Treasurer: Position Open
Secretary: Donna Gorton
Members at Large:
Karen Koehn,
Robert Benson, Richard Adams, Catherine Martin, Josh Murphy
  • Become an Encourager
  • Provide childcare or children's activities
  • Provide transportation
  • Help prepare and/or package food for workshops and other activities
  • Join the Board of Directors
  • Make a tax-deductible donation - make checks payable to:
                Bridges of Hope, Allegan County
                290 12th Street
                Plainwell, MI 49080
Income and Expense Report
January through December 2015
   Grants Received     $         20,500.00
   Individual and Business Contributions     $           2,145.00
   Registration and Fees Received     $              990.00
   Total Income     $         23,635.00
   Program Expenses     
     Bridges Out of Poverty Workshop    $           1,090.00
     Food and Catering    $              134.00
     Getting Ahead Materials    $           1,434.00
     Stipends    $           4,770.00
     Total Program Expenses    $           7,428.00
   Business Expenses    
     Marketing    $              200.00
     Operating Costs    $              472.76
     Software    $              270.00
     Supplies    $              885.58
     Liability Insurance    $              735.00
     Contracted Services    $              350.00
     Total Business Expenses    $           2,913.34
  Volunteer Programs Expenses    
     Training    $           2,210.00
     Travel    $           1,649.09
     Total Volunteer Programs Expenses    $           3,859.09
  Total Expenses    $         14,200.43
NET INCOME    $         9,434.57
Bridges of Hope is excited to be moving into a new office in the summer of 2016. Along with this move comes the need for office supplies. Donations of supplies or Staples gift cards are greatly appreciated. Here are a few things we will need:

                                         Digital camera                           3 hole punch
                                Paper shredder                        Business envelopes
                                Printer paper                           Paper cutter
                                Pencil sharpener                      Paper clips
                               10-Key calculator                     Bulletin board
                               Office telephone system            Office chairs
                               Bookcases                                Labeling machine
                               Fire extinguisher                       PowerPoint projector
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Bridges of Hope, Allegan County
290 12th Street
Plainwell, MI 49080

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