A Church-Based Approach to Ending Family Homelessness

A Bridge of Stories

Stories From Bridge of Hope Centre County

“I Got My GED!”

“I am always just getting by, I can’t get ahead. I was actually able to pay off my car, but then my food stamps were cut, because my income increased without a car payment. I was really hoping to start having a little extra money or start saving some money, but that is just not possible. I have just enough to get by each month, but I can’t ever move forward.” This is how “Karen” explained her life as she was applying to Bridge of Hope Centre County’s program. Karen was a single mother with four children ranging in age from 5 to 15 years old. Karen had an apartment that was adequate, but very small with no backyard for her children to run and play. Karen dreamed of someday owning her own home with plenty of room for her kids to play outside and maybe even have a small pool of their own in the yard.

Karen was thankful to have been at the same job for several years, but the job often required 50 hour work weeks. Karen had moved as far in her job and on her pay scale as she could. There was no room for job advancement without additional training or additional education, such as an associate’s degree. Karen was unable to get additional education because she did not have a high school diploma. Karen shared, during the interview process for Bridge of Hope’s program, that she had always wanted to get her GED, but with four children and a demanding full time job, she just never made her GED a priority. Education or job training is a key component for Bridge of Hope, because each is a vital way to increase a single mother’s earning potential. As part of the Bridge of Hope program, Karen made the commitment to get her GED as soon as possible(because it is usually a requirement of acceptance into the program), but she was still worried about the math portion of her test. Karen stated that math was not a strength for her, and it had been many years since she was in school. Karen shared this concern with the people in her mentoring group, and one of them, an engineer, volunteered his time to tutor Karen in math. Karen and her mentor met several times and Karen’s mentor was able to help her gain the skills and confidence to take the GED test. Karen took that test and passed on her first try. She was so proud and anxious to share the news with her mentors. Karen is very thankful to Bridge of Hope for being the catalyst for spurring her on to achieve her long time goal of earning her GED. Karen also credits her mentors for not just the tutoring, but also for their loving support during the process of obtaining her GED and for helping her believe that she could do it.


“Starting  With Bridge of Hope Centre County”

Susan is a 41 year old single mother of two boys who both have special needs. When she applied to Bridge of Hope Centre County, Susan had not received child support in almost a year and had been paying her rent by borrowing money from family members and cashing in her children’s savings bonds. Susan’s life revolved around her boys and taking them to various doctor’s appointments which left her very little time to form any friendships for herself.

After being accepted into our program, Susan is now receiving rental assistance which helps to alleviate a tremendous amount of financial stress as well as lessens the emotional stress felt with the family members from whom she had to borrow money. Susan has also been matched with a mentor group which coincidentally comes from the same church Susan attends. Susan now has a connection with a group of people who she knows are there to support her and boys emotionally. This group also offers Susan a social outlet. Susan and the mentors are starting to form relationships. They are planning to go out for coffee, having Susan and her children to the mentors’ houses for dinner and organizing a group game night.

Susan also meets with weekly with our case manager to work on budgeting and setting goals towards financial sustainability. Through our program Susan has also been linked with other human service agencies such as Easter Seals to help further meet her family’s needs and Career Link to help in her career planning and job skills.

Since this relationship is just forming, the mentors and Susan are excited to see what happens over the next year.