When God leads, people respond. Over and again, that’s the story of Bridge of Hope.
It started on March 2, 1987 when 37 Christians gathered in a church basement in Coatesville, Pennsylvania to hear three homeless women share their stories. The group represented a cross-section of churches, but was united by a deep sense of Christ’s call to compassion for homeless single mothers and their children. As they explored ways churches could make a real and lasting difference, God’s Spirit prompted ten women and men to step forward.
They developed a ministry model built on three-way partnerships between homeless families, trained church-based mentoring groups (today called groups of “Neighboring Volunteers”), and professional staff. The first homeless single mother and her child were matched with a mentoring group in December 1989. Since then, once-homeless families have been finding long-term solutions – as well as a circle of supportive friends – with the help of Protestant and Catholic churches and Bridge of Hope Lancaster & Chester Counties.
Within a year of serving the first family, co-founder Sandy Lewis shared with the board that the vision of Bridge of Hope should expand beyond the original two county area. Word about Bridge of Hope’s successful model spread and the phone started ringing with calls from other communities who wanted to implement Bridge of Hope. After discerning God’s leading, the board of directors developed an affiliate program and in February 2000 the first affiliate was incorporated, serving Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania.
God continued to lead and the phone kept ringing with inquiries from across the country. In April 2002, the board of directors recognized the importance of growing locally as well as nationally. Bridge of Hope Inc. became the national organization and Bridge of Hope Lancaster & Chester Counties became the new name for the local organization in the founding two county region of PA. Today, Bridge of Hope National’s vision is to end and prevent homelessness for women and children across the United States by calling churches into action.
Today there are 19 Bridge of Hope locations in 11 states and Canada. Bridge of Hope National has received requests for information from people throughout the U.S. and in a number of Canadian provinces. To learn more about Bridge of Hope National and its network of affiliates and sites, visit www.bridgeofhopeinc.org.