Volunteer mentors have been the "heart" of Bridge Communities since its founding in 1988. Volunteer mentors provide the caring and encouragement necessary to foster the personal and economic growth that client families need to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency.
Mentors operate as members of a Bridge Communities' Program Partner group from their faith-based or community organization. Mentors are the primary contact in the client family's service team. This team is made up of the homeless family, volunteer mentors and professional case manager. Mentors typically work in a team of two or three volunteers.
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Transitional Housing Mentors Help Homeless Families by:
- Participating in the initial Mentor Training sessions and ongoing educational opportunities sponsored by Bridge Communities.
- Collaborating with the Bridge Case Manager for ongoing assessment of family needs and progress.
- Providing hospitality and welcoming for client families new to the Program.
- Participating in the development of a Program Contract and Housing Contract between Bridge Communities, the Program Partner and the client family.
- Participating in the development of an individualized service plan that includes long and short term goals.
- Visiting weekly (or as needed) with the client family in their home. Provide skill development in budgeting assistance, savings planning, and general money management.
- Arranging assistance in applying for jobs, education/training programs, and other community supports.
- Providing companionship, listening, spiritual and emotional support.
- Contributing household maintenance tips.
- Arranging parenting education or assistance.
- Providing guidance and sponsorship in scouting, library, park district, or other community-based recreational services.
- Arranging the connection with Program Partner support for furniture, child care, employment, transportation, home maintenance needs, etc.
- Reporting any unusual incidents to case manager.
- Maintaining strict confidentiality and dignity in service delivery.
"As a mentor, I feel that I have received more than I have given...the goal of a mentor might be to help families find resources to further their education, get out of debt, and plan for the future, but one soon realizes that it is the social and emotional support that is most essential. Being a mentor has taught me patience, compassion, and perseverance. It has changed my definition of success and increased my gratitude toward family, friends and God."