I’ve been thinking a lot lately about family. As some of you might know, my father passed away two weeks ago today and often when you lose a family member, you realize the importance of family and how all of those relationships have shaped you into the person that you are.
My father was an extraordinary man. He helped to raise 8 children on a traditional family farm, he was involved in local township politics, a member of the school board, and even ran for state representative as an independent candidate back in the 1980s. (this was before being independent was cool)
My dad raised a family back in the days when Farm families had no health insurance. Those were days when food was plenty, but cash was scarce; and when the church, the 4H club and the local softball team were part of an incredible support system that supported my family.
My dad also battled with Parkinson’s for 16 years and with the support of my sisters’ loving care, and the help of the extended community, he was able to remain on the family farm for as long as possible.
Our family benefited from the support of the community!
Families are complicated. Even in the best of times, when everything might seem to be going your way, parenting can be difficult/rough.
When you add in financial troubles, mental health issues, divorce, addiction, and physical health issues into the picture…then things can really begin to unravel in a hurry.
So much of what we do at the bridge is about providing support for parents and their kids.
We know, that it’s not programs that change people’s lives. It’s the people and the relationships that change lives. It’s the people and our relationships with one another that keeps all of us going each and every day.
Over the last 44 years, The Bridge for Youth has served close to 40,000 youth and families in crisis. This, my friends, is extraordinary!
Each time a youth comes through the front door at The Bridge, there’s an opportunity for something very great to happen.
There’s an opportunity for someone to have a good night’s sleep without any fear.
There’s the opportunity, that someone who is running from a life that has become absolutely unbearable because of abuse and hatred, will be treated with kindness and respect.
There’s the opportunity, that someone will—maybe for the very first time–feel that they can trust another person enough to share their story, their secret, and by doing so, begin to find a way to bridge the pain and find a safe place to heal.
What I’ve learned, especially these last two weeks, is that no family can thrive without having a support system that surrounds them both in good times and bad.
For many families, The Bridge for Youth is part of that support system and helps families find ways to work things out…and find a positive way to move forward.