Several organizations offer assistance to those dealing with homelessness. Today’s organization helps bridge people into a home while helping reduce the waste that goes into landfills.
In 1987, Fran Heitzman was working as a custodian at a church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. A woman brought in a crib and asked Fran if it could be used in the church nursery. There wasn’t a need in the nursery, but Fran was sure he could find a home for the crib. After finding a social service agency that wanted the crib, Fran thought he should be able to find a home for other furniture items to truly help those in desperate need and Bridging was born.
The mission of the Bridging organization is to provide families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness and poverty with a gift of quality furniture and household goods to stabilize and improve lives while effectively using community resources.
They are headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota in a 26,000 square foot warehouse. They also have another 22,000 square foot warehouse in Roseville, Minnesota. Together, these two locations serve over 4,000 households from the Twin Cities Metro Area each year. Since its founding in 1987, Bridging has served over 57,000 households consisting of over 175,000 people. 87% of these families have an annual income of less than $15,000.
Bridging is now the largest furniture bank in North America and was one of the founding members of the Furniture Bank Association of North America. By accepting quality used furniture and household goods, Bridging reduces the amount of waste going to landfills by approximately 7-10 million pounds every year.
To receive services from Bridging, clients are referred by one of their 140 community partners. Comprised of social service agencies, nonprofit organizations and churches, these community partners verify there is a need for each client prior to coming to Bridging.
Bridging clients are very grateful. One client said, “After months of sleeping on the couch, it has been great to have a bed. We have a couch that doesn’t sag, enough towels and sheets, a coffee maker and a blender. I used the light you gave us to finish my first year of nursing school.” Another said, “Words are not there to say what this means…beds to sleep on, a couch with my kids sitting next to me. It’s the little bitty things that matter. I’m so thankful that people gave these things to Bridging. It makes a world of difference to those who don’t have.” You can find even more success stories on the organization’s website.
How can you help?
- Each year, Bridging has over 80,000 hours of time donated by generous volunteers. There are opportunities for individuals and groups to help clients pick out furniture, sort donated items, and provide administrative support. You can learn more about volunteer opportunities on their website.
- You can also learn more about donating your stuff to Bridging on their website. There you will find a list of accepted items as well as drop off locations and hours.
- Each winter for the past 14 years, a local ski hill has been the host of the Subway Bedrace for Bridging. Teams race down the hill and raise funds for the organization. In 2012, this event raised $80,000 for Bridging. Check out their website for information on getting involved in this event.
- You can also make a monetary donation directly on the organization’s website.