“Bridge of Hope”
“Give generously . . .without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to”.
“Bridge of Hope” is a program of Hannah’s House in Mishawaka, IN a non-profit maternity home that provides care, a safe home, and life-skills training for pregnant women who have chosen life and are in need of help. Known as the “Maternity Home with a Heart”, we are truly blessed, and we have been serving those in need for 20 years! Hannah’s House houses women during the time of their pregnancy, and new moms live in the home for up to two months following the birth of their child. In 2012, Hannah’s House was blessed to add the Bridge of Hope program to continue serving these new moms for an additional 24 months to help them break the cycle of poverty.
During Hannah’s House’s 2011/2012 strategic planning meeting, Board members came to the conclusion that it was one of our goals to serve more women, and that we needed to serve them for a longer period of time, as two months after their baby was born was just not long enough. It was the Board’s feeling that the values and skills learned during the time of her pregnancy and residency at Hannah’s House, could be deepened and that each woman would have a greater chance of moving out of the throes of poverty and dependence if she had a longer period of time to internalize what she had been taught and had experienced in our Christian / Catholic home.
With these goals in mind, Hannah’s House decided to open a second home to serve more pregnant women and to merge with “Bridge of Hope”, a nationally recognized, church based approach, that successfully prevents and ends homelessness for single mothers with an 80% success rate.
In July 2012 this merger with Bridge of Hope took place and on May 10, 2013, a second Hannah’s House was dedicated by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, at 505 West Fourth Street in Mishawaka. This residence, directly across the street from our first home, will serve up to five women at one time, allowing us to serve an additional twenty women annually. With the seven already living in our first residence, Hannah’s House will serve approximately forty eight women each year offering them a “pro life in action” option to abortion and / or poverty and homelessness. Our programs, which include “Bridge of Hope” teach spiritual, educational, occupational, and life skills to make each woman a productive woman as well as a loving mother as she lives in our home — a very pro-family-like program of residency.
While at Hannah’s House, expectant women may apply for the “Bridge of Hope” program which provides extended care and assistance through a combination of financial assistance on a decreasing basis, trained mentors from a local church congregation and social work case management from trained professional staff. As a result of the generous Our Sunday Visitor Grant given to Hannah’s House this past year, there will be eight women in this faith-based program by the end of 2013, with all the needed support systems in place.
“Bridge of Hope” provides life-skills training, friendship, healthy relationships, parenting skills, advocacy in a variety of areas as well as rental assistance. If a woman is accepted into the program, she may live at Hannah’s House until her new more permanent housing is found. The “Bridge of Hope” program can last up to 24 months depending on the woman’s strengths and ability to become financially stable. Over a period of twelve to fifteen months, the amount of money received for rental assistance is tapered down, enabling each woman to become even more self-sustaining and confident of her own skills to provide care for her child and herself through employment and continuing education.
During this time, each woman is paired with a mentoring group from a local religious congregation that she might have the human support and friendship needed as she learns how to be self-sufficient. These warm human relationships and bonding friendships last far beyond the time of mentoring and become life-long connections of women supporting women. Oftentimes, our women even attend church services with their mentoring partners finding an ever increasing depth of faith and relationship with God.
One of our former residents at Hannah’s House and a participant in the “Bridge of Hope program wrote the following:
“I feel like Bridge of Hope opened a door for me to meet a whole group of people (my mentors) that took me in and they are there for me. They are my support system when I need other people in my life to be there for me. They are giving me a lot of encouragement, support, positive feedback and are showering love into my life. I feel privileged to have them in my life. If it wasn’t for the Bridge of Hope program, I would never have met this group of people who have made such a huge impact in my life just by texting me, calling me, taking me to lunch, listening to me vent, giving me feedback, and talking me through situations and problems. I don’t feel as alone (LK)”.
“Bridge of Hope” is just that to these women. A bridge out of poverty into a self-sustaining life supported by faith and a group of mentors that bring something they have been so lacking in their lives, HOPE!!