The Bridges Story
BRIDGES at Lake Worth
Marie wanted to take English classes after she came to Florida from Haiti, but she couldn’t. She had to care for her 2-year-old daughter, Kehila, and she wasn’t able to find a program that would allow her to bring Kehila along.
That was until Marie’s husband, Martial, visited BRIDGES at Lake Worth. He learned about the Family Literacy program, which allows parents to attend English classes while a BRIDGES staffer watches their children.
Marie didn’t just attend the English classes every Monday through Thursday, she became a regular at many of the BRIDGES’ other programs, including Triple P parenting classes and parent-child activities.
BRIDGES staff also helped Marie’s family through their second pregnancy with Marie participating in childbirth classes.
“A lot of places give English courses, but with BRIDGES we got emotional support for our family,” Martial said “BRIDGES helps guide you…BRIDGES provides support that not only makes people’s lives better, but a better future for their children. It’s more than an organization. It’s like a family.”
BRIDGES at Belle Glade
Brittany calls her son Bernard “a BRIDGES baby.”
Brittany was 20 years old when she gave birth to Bernard nearly 2 ½ months early. The tiny boy spent about two months in the hospital before she was able to introduce him to staffers at BRIDGES at Belle Glade. She had started visiting the BRIDGES when she was pregnant, going to Triple P parenting classes.
“They welcome you with open arms,” Brittany said. “I’m able to find the resources I need and Bernard is able to grow up there with toys and books and other experiences.”
Brittany and Bernard also have attended parent-child programs.
“I love the activities they have for me and my son to do together,” she said. “It gives us a chance to get out of the house and see people and get active. We live a couple streets away and sometimes walk there.”
With the encouragement of a parent coach at BRIDGES, Brittany went back to school, recently graduating from a program teaching medical billing and coding.
BRIDGES also helped find child care for Bernard while she was in classes.
“I’ve learned that not everything comes at the moment you hope, but once you are consistent, everything is possible,” Brittany said. “You have to really work for the things you want to do. I’ve had my moments but (BRIDGES staffers) are like, ‘No, don’t give up.’ or ‘Try this in the meantime.’"
“I love BRIDGES. It’s another home to me and Bernard. I enjoy going somewhere I can feel special and always welcomed.”
BRIDGES at Pahokee
A mother of two young boys needed help. She was stressed out and overwhelmed by the challenges that come with raising a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.
“I could accept my current lifestyle as my fate or I could find people to help me change my fate and that’s what BRIDGES at Pahokee did for me,” she said.
She enrolled in the Triple P parenting program. During her first session, she opened up about what was going on in her household. BRIDGES staffers helped develop a parenting plan.
“I stayed in the program because it was different,” she said. “It gave me a more hands-on approach to dealing with my (youngest) son’s behaviors instead of just reading out of a book.”
“My (youngest) son’s behavior is much better; he’s easily controlled. I have the strategies needed to deal with his behaviors. I have support from (the boys’ father) and we communicate better about our children and their needs. We are so much happier now. This has truly helped my family.”
The mother continues to be an active member of BRIDGES at Pahokee, attending parent-child activities and other events. Staffers say that when they see her now there is “a glow of happiness on her face.”
BRIDGES at Lake Worth West
The father lost his job. The family couldn’t pay their rent. They no longer had a home.
That’s when the parents made the painful choice. They sent their children, ages 10 and 15, to live with another family.
While their children had a roof over their head, the parents didn’t — sleeping in hotels, their car or wherever they could find refuge for the night. The father got another job, but they couldn’t scrape enough money together for a rental deposit. They couldn’t seem to get ahead.
The mother, who is permanently disabled, came into BRIDGES at Lake Worth West asking for help. BRIDGES was able to get them into a hotel for a few weeks and worked to get them enough financial assistance to put down a deposit for an apartment.
When the mother came back to the BRIDGES, she broke down crying when she told staffers the good news. Her family was back together.
BRIDGES at Lake Park
The mother with a 1-year-old girl wouldn’t respond to people at BRIDGES at Lake Park unless they were facing her when they talked. One of the staffers began to realize something was wrong and soon discovered that the mother had hearing problems and gotten through life by reading lips.
BRIDGES at Lake Park staff contacted the Deaf Service & Hearing Wellness Center of Palm Beach County and tests showed the mother had significant hearing loss in both ears. The Hearing Wellness Center advised her that it would be able to provide her with one reconditioned hearing aid. Mercy Me Ministries, a partner of BRIDGES at Lake Park, agreed to pay for a second hearing aid.
The mother and a BRIDGES staffer went to the Hearing Wellness Center in April to get the two hearing aids. The staff member said that when the hearing aids were put on the mother’s ears, a big smile crossed her face. She could hear sounds she hadn’t heard before.
“I am the happiest person on the face of this earth now,” she said.