Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bridge Communities?
Based in Glen Ellyn, a western suburb of Chicago, Bridge offers transitional housing and support services to homeless families that live and work in DuPage County. Founded in 1988 by community volunteers Mark Milligan and Bob Wahlgren, Bridge has grown to include nearly 100 units of transitional housing and 18 shared-equity home ownership condominium units.
What is Sleep Out Saturday (SOS)?
Sleep Out Saturday started in 2004 with the purpose to raise awareness about the issue of homeless families that work and live in DuPage County, while at the same time raise funds for Bridge Communities' Transitional Housing program. Within the past 5 years, Sleep Out Saturday has raised more than $404,000 which equals 16,610 nights of housing and shelter for homeless families in DuPage County.
What is transitional housing?
Transitional housing provides apartments, supportive service and a stable environment to homeless families who are working to improve or develop the skills necessary to live independently. This is typically defined by a two-year time period. Bridge Communities works with local faith-based and community action groups that provide mentors and essential financial support. Bridge provides professional case management, education tutoring, career counseling and coaching and donated automobiles.
How do I get involved in Sleep Out Saturday?
There are many ways to get involved with SOS: you can join a Sleep Out Saturday group, you can become a Sleep Out Star and sleep out with your friends and family, you can become a sponsor through your place of business or you can simply make a donation to help our client families. To learn about all the ways you can get involved, visit www.sleepoutsaturday.org. You can also call event coordinator, Jennie Gates at (630) 545-0610 ext. 19 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where does my Sleep Out Saturday group sleep?
You will need to designate a location for your group that is safe and well confined. We recommend a location that has indoor facilities in case of inclement weather. Most Groups are from local faith-based organizations and get permission from their leadership to sleep out on their property. Public schools that participate are not typically allowed to sleep on the school property and have typically selected a private home to sleep out. Some groups (ie: businesses, service clubs) have slept in public places such as their local park. Bridge can help you get a permit from your local municipality. Bridge does NOT sponsor any sleep out location - each group must secure its own location and all needed security and help for their site.
What materials am I given to help with my SOS event?
Bridge Communities will provide you will extensive promotional, marketing, logistical and education materials to ensure that your group has a great event. We will also provide group and individualized training and support to your group leader(s). Our Tool Kit contains many educational and fun activities that are geared at many ages. We will also provide groups with marketing materials, such as posters, outdoor banners, DVDs and press releases. All of this material is provided free of charge.
Is there a minimum requirement for fundraising?
We ask that all Sleep Out Saturday participants make every effort to fund-raise for the Bridge programs. There is no minimum that we require the groups to raise. We do suggest that each participant set a goal of $100 (4 housing nights). Bridge Communities provides pledge envelopes that participants can use to collect their funds. Participants are also provided with many tips, sample letters and ideas for individual and group fundraising.
How do I promote SOS in my church or organization?
Bridge Communities will supply group leaders with marketing and promotional materials, as well as ideas as how to incorporate SOS into weekly bulletins, ministries or group meetings. Representatives from Bridge and other SOS teen sleepers are happy to make a presentation to your group.
What is the Rally?
Participants of Sleep Out Saturday are invited to attend the Rally held in downtown Glen Ellyn Illinois. At the Rally, all groups and Stars come together to celebrate their collective efforts and hear from former Bridge Communities client families and other Sleep Out Saturday participants. The Rally is high energy, and many groups find it to be a great way to start their night of activities. A Rally schedule is posted at www.sleepoutsaturday.org in mid October.
I am an individual or family, do I need to join a organized group to sleep out?
No, you do not need to join a group. We have registration for Sleep Out Saturday Stars - our individuals and families who want to participate on their own or with their friends and family members. Register at www.sleepoutsaturday.org/Register/SleepOutStar and you will be sent materials that will appropriate for you or your small group.
Can my Scout troop earn 'A Heart for the Homeless' Scout badge by participating in Sleep Out Saturday?
Yes, you can. We suggest that you do your selected activities at a troop meeting leading up to the Sleep Out Saturday event and on the day of the event, you can complete your badge requirements. Once you have completed your Sleep Out, order your Scout badges at www.bridgecommunities.org/scoutbadges
I do not live in DuPage County, Illinois, can my group or I still participate?
Yes, we have many groups across the Country who have participated in this event. Some out-of-state groups have chosen to donate their group proceeds to a local homeless service organization and Bridge is happy to support that decision. If your group is in the Chicago area, and you participate in Sleep Out with our materials and trademarked name, Bridge does require that your proceeds benefit Bridge Communities.
Bridge Communities is a program that transforms lives of homeless families. Surveys completed in 2013 show that, one year after graduating from the Bridge program:
- 100% of graduates maintained stable housing
- 100% of graduates maintained stable employment
- 93% of graduates had not increased their debt