Congregations are the foundation of Bridges to Housing Stability. Operating as Congregations Concerned for the Homeless for more than 15 years, Bridges began with a single congregation that wanted to help a local homeless family. Today, Bridges partners with almost 30 congregations located in, or near, Howard County.
Congregations can participate in Bridgesâ€™ efforts in many ways.
Help communicate the relationship between Howard Countyâ€™s undersupply of affordable housing and homelessness:
- Host a speaker from Bridges to increase the congregationâ€™s awareness of Howard Countyâ€™s very real challenge.
- Teach youth groups/classes about poverty and various meanings of having a home using Bridgesâ€™ â€œHome in Four Lessonsâ€ curriculum. The â€œvalues-basedâ€ lessons emphasize compassion, dignity and home. Lessons can be used independently or together, and can be customized to align with the congregationâ€™s faith theme.
- Engage child members in the â€œEvery Family Should Have a Homeâ€ art exhibit and encourage an understanding of homelessness. The exhibit is held annually in November in local libraries.
HELP MAKE AFFORDABLE HOUSING HAPPEN
Mobilize individuals and groups from your congregation to participate in Bridges Alliance, our affordable rental housing program:
- Join an Alliance Circle of Support to foster social connections, civic engagement and mutual support.
- Help make housing affordable for a Howard County household by becoming a Sustaining Partner. A congregation can partner with Bridges Alliance by making a pledge of $5,000 per year for three years, which will help sustain this worthwhile program. Easing the rent burden allows the family to redirect its income to meeting other financial obligations and investments. Once a household can stabilize its expenses, it is in a better position to stabilize its housing.
- Volunteer your home maintenance skills for Bridgesâ€™ Housing Corps, a group that inspects, cleans and renovates Bridges housing units.
- Donate a home to the Bridges Alliance program
PARTICIPATE IN THE ANNUAL â€œHOTTER THAN THOUâ€ CHILI COOK-OFF
Start cooking!Â Join our many faith partners in the fun, interfaith competition that helps fund Bridgesâ€™ operating budget.Â Every year, many area congregations cook up their favorite chili recipes for the community at this event, allowing Bridges to keep the doors open so that grants and donations can fund the homeless assistance and prevention programs.Â See a list of 2016 Chili Cook-Off congregation teams and the â€œGolden Ladleâ€ winner.
Please call (410) 312-5760 for more details on being a Chili Cook Off Participant.
BRIDGES BELIEVERS FAITH TEAM
Select a congregation representative to be a member of Bridges Believers, a group that is working together to align its own social justice commitment with Bridgesâ€™ efforts to solve homelessness with housing.Â A Bridges Believer acts as a liaison between Bridges and their congregation, sharing advocacy messages, awareness raising events, and other news. Working together and expanding reach and visibility is a mutually beneficial effort.
Contact Millicent Nwolisa or call 410-312-5760 to learn more about how to become part of Bridges Believers.
ENGAGE YOUR CONGREGATION IN A FAITH-TO-FAITH COMMUNICATION NETWORK
Raise awareness of Howard Countyâ€™s homeless by connecting to Bridges communication and other congregationsâ€™ news outlets. If your congregation has a newsletter, Facebook page, website, blog, or other means of communication, share the information with Bridges and other engaged congregations. Contact Bridges to have your congregationâ€™s website listed on the Bridges site.
Over the years, members of congregations have demonstrated profound commitment to Bridges by contributing foundational support. Join other congregations in organizing a major financial gift by way of mission budgets, fundraising events, and special collections.