For many Centre County residents, the “face of homelessness” is hard to see. Many see or define homelessness as the people we see sleeping on benches or sidewalks. Sadly, that represents less than 10 percent of homeless population in our area.
As such, Bridge of Hope Centre County offers a solution to mothers and children to move out of despair and transition to a higher quality of life. What is hidden from public view are those families living in cars, couch surfing between locations or in a home facing eviction. The cost of rent in Centre County is expensive. Single mothers who work full time might only make minimum wage and are priced out of the market with a lack of affordable housing. Bridge of Hope can be a solution to single mothers in those situations.
Diversity and inclusion are core fundamentals to our Christian faith-based organization. Clients can be part of our program regardless of age, race, ethnicity, faith and life experiences. We do not judge but rather offer support and hope.
At Bridge of Hope, our program is a three-way partnership that includes a single woman and her children, a professionally trained caseworker and a group of neighboring volunteers. We work to provide a hands-up approach vs. a hand-out. Our program lasts 18-24 months where we work to stabilize their housing and help them gain financial stability through education and employment. Our focus is to help the mother achieve personal goals for the family unit, learn about budgeting and the neighboring volunteer groups serve as a “life link” providing emotional support and being a role model for the family.
To learn more about Bridge of Hope Centre County, visit our website at centre.bridgeofhopeinc.org or call us at 237-4673. Additionally, if you would like to volunteer or do more, we would be glad to talk to you. Together, we can end homelessness one day at a time.
Dennis Fetzer is the executive director of Bridge of Hope Centre County, which is a Centre County United Way Partner Agency.