How does the Bridge help, you may ask?
Besides all that, The Bridge is a community center where people can meet and have their needs met. It's a place of encouragement, refreshment, life and hope.
This past summer, we had a fun yard sale and BBQ that many came to and found things they needed/wanted. It was a time of meeting and making new friends. A family found parts for their children's bikes. Another man also found bike parts and a speedometer for his bike. Children found toys and clothes. A grandmother brought her two teenage daughters into the boutique and had fun finding clothes they liked together, for crazy low prices! A homeless man came in and found some clothes. A veteran had a chocolate milkshake and a meeting to find hope and help at. A single mother found clothes for her young children, and a youth got a bottle of cold water on a hot day.
There are so many encouraging stories to share, more than can be told on a Facebook site. But, some stories have to be shared!
A man in his 60's came in to the Bridge, just before closing time. He had no jacket on, just a t-shirt, hat and shorts, shoes and sun-glasses. He looked tired and worried.
He said he had just come from the hospital in Bellingham, half an hour away by car, and showed us the medical wrist band. He was still wearing a foamy medical band on the other hand and had a cotton ball taped over his vein on his other arm from a recent IV.
He told us that he'd been on vacation with friends and was visiting the area together. They were enjoying a meal at a restaurant, when he experienced a heart attack! He was taken to the hospital and ended up having to have a stint put in his heart. He had been in the hospital for a week and had just been discharged. He was holding his discharge papers in his hand.
Somehow, he had found a ride back to our community in search of his friends, but they had continued on with their trip by then. He had not eaten any solid food in days, was tired, thirsty and confused. We offered him a drink and a snack, which he gratefully received. In addition to that, all the money in his wallet had somehow been stolen! He shook his head as he said he'd never in his life been in a situation like this and didn't know what to do.
So, here was a man who'd had a medical emergency, was away from his home, couldn't reach his friends, had lost all his money and was in crisis. He said his sister was wiring money to him the next day, enough for him to get back home. But, that he needed help for one night.
Sadly, he was considering sleeping on the beach if necessary! He said that the fellow who had driven him to The Bridge from the hospital had driven him around to various places, even some churches, looking for help for him. But, to no avail! Someone directed them to The Bridge and the man was dropped off.
In his distress, he was able to sit down on a comfortable couch and rest. He asked for a jacket, which we were able to provide - a nice one too! It fit perfectly and was a brand name that he liked.
He was able to meet with our director and lead chaplain, Lee Connors, who assessed the situation, and found a respite bed for him at The Lighthouse Mission. Lee called ahead, secured the room, drove him there and had dinner waiting for him when he arrived. The man was very grateful and relieved for the help and care in his hour of need.
Folks, this is the ministry of The Bridge Community Hope Center in Birch Bay! This is why we exist. These needs, and many more, are being met.
So, to those of you who support The Bridge and serve under it's banner, THANK YOU! Your giving IS making a difference, a positive one, for people in our area, and visitors, like this man. The Bridge relies on generous and caring people like you! We are a ministry that exists and runs by faith daily. We don't have any government grants funding us or any big corporate backing. We are a homegrown group of volunteers, serving others in need. And by God's grace, will continue to keep the doors open, the coffee brewing, the kindness spreading and the love growing.