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Client Success Stories

Kristen: "I am so thankful now"
Can you imagine what it would be like to be torn apart from your young child—leaving them night after night because you have no safe place to stay?

Kristen knows just how that feels — because that was how her life was, for months on end. Last year, Kristen was homeless and exhausted, out of money and out of steam. She felt hopeless.

Her brother offered to let her daughter Audrey stay with him, but there wasn’t room for Kristen—so she had to make the unbearable decision to separate from Audrey. “I felt awful to leave her night after night. There were times I slept in my car, in the parking lot, just to be close to her.”

Then, on #GivingTuesday 2017, generous Bridge supporters donated in honor of Kristen and Audrey. Because of your support, you brought them the safety of a Bridge apartment!

Kristen is off to a great start—but she has a long road ahead of her, and lots to learn before she can make it on her own. And that can only happen with your support. 

Recently, Kristen was an all-star at our employment workshop, and we saw her confidence soar. Then, she went through career assessment testing, and scored off the charts. She found that she has fantastic technical and math skills, and is now pursuing a career in IT. Kristen just started a course to earn Microsoft and Cisco certifications.

“Looking back, it was so hard to live through those months homeless and separated from Audrey, but going through that time pushed me to do better,” says Kristen. “I am so thankful now, and I have a concrete plan for my future.”

You can help Kristen and Audrey achieve that bright and beautiful future. Please make a donation in their honor today
Gabi: "You gave me the chance to set myself up for success--thank you!"
Gabi first became homeless at just 17 years old, when she left a troubled household. She then spent the next few years couch-surfing, staying with any family or friends who would take her in.

     Her luck seemed to change when she fell in love, got married and had two amazing daughters. But her marriage soon fell apart. Gabi and her girls were left brokenhearted, and with nowhere to live.

     And you gave Gabi and her daughters a safe home when they came into Bridge Communities. Thank you for being there for them.
    Because what she's accomplished in just a year is incredible. Your support has meant that she's learned to budget, she's received counseling, and her daughters have a stable, happy home for the first time ever.

     But, here's the most incredible thing of all: Gabi has started the process of purchasing a house! 
     To go from homeless to homeowner in under two years--wow! We know she's going to get there. But she just needs a little more time. And she can only get there with your help.
     "You gave me the chance to set myself up for success," says Gabi. "Thank you!"
     She's nearly achieved her dream, and only you can take her to the finish line. Thank you stepping up for Gabi and her girls when they needed you. 



Nina: "Bridge has been a life saver and a game changer for me"

Four years ago, Nina was living in Hawaii, in a happy relationship, attending college, and working at a bank part-time. She was focused on graduation and building her career. It seemed like life couldn’t get any better.

     Until it all fell apart.

     “I’d been with my boyfriend for two years when I got pregnant with twins,” she said. “And then, he got mixed up with some people he shouldn’t have, and got into drugs.” He was swiftly incarcerated, leaving Nina to fend for herself. Then, as her pregnancy wore on, her chronic morning sickness weakened her so much that she could no longer keep her job nor stay in school.  

     With no support system in Hawaii, she returned home to the Chicago area and moved in with her sister. While grateful for the help, “I was so upset because my life was falling apart,” Nina remembers. “I was really, really sick, and everything was so stressful.”

     After her babies were born, Nina found a job as a cashier at a gas station. But, it wasn’t long before life threw another curveball. Her sister could no longer afford her apartment, so Nina and the twins had to crash in Nina’s mother’s subsidized housing—bringing the number of people in the cramped two-bedroom apartment to seven.

     “My mom would keep the twins overnight, and to make room, I would stay at a homeless shelter or in my car,” says Nina. “It was so chaotic. I was terrified of not having a place to live, and I knew that if my mother got in trouble for housing us, she could lose her home, too.”

     Her mother researched Bridge Communities, and Nina immediately applied. It was a huge relief when she and her babies, who’d just turned one, were accepted into the program and moved into their apartment. “It was amazing to have the freedom of our own place, and not be walking on eggshells all the time,” Nina says. But, she knew she still had a long way to go before she’d be fully independent. 

     The first step was getting into a new routine with her mentors from First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downers Grove. She had four mentors, so at each weekly meeting, two mentors would work with her on budgeting and finances, while the other two would help with the twins. “They were really understanding—though, relinquishing control of my life was a challenge,” Nina admits. “To make lots of changes at one time is hard. But it was all right because I knew that they really cared about me.”

     They started out by setting goals with Nina: to get a full-time job; to pay off her debt left from her last months alone in Hawaii; and to build up her savings and raise her credit score so that she could eventually purchase a home. 

     Before applying for a full-time job, Nina signed up for Bridge’s employment readiness training workshop. “It was great to learn how to create a resume, and also to get to know other Bridge clients,” she says. “Helping one another was really encouraging and helped us build up our confidence.” 

     Soon afterward, Nina landed a full-time job in accounts payable. And, because of this, she was able to pay off her debt in a year, making her credit score jump from a low of 464 up to 698. She also started a savings account, diligently socking away her tax returns and one-third of each paycheck toward a down payment for a home.

     Things were on the upswing, but Nina knew there was still something missing in her life.

     “I’d always loved to learn, and I wanted to go back to school to complete my accounting degree,” she says. “My mentors were supportive because they knew I would be able to make more money in the long run.” She switched to a new part-time job in a corporate accounting department, enrolled in college and is now working toward her associate’s in accounting. She’s keeping on track to graduate at the end of next year, and her employer has already asked her to go full-time once she graduates.

     “Nina passionately wanted to complete her degree, even though we weren’t sure at first there were enough hours in a day to accomplish it all,” says Suzanne Thibeault, Nina’s case manager. “And now, Nina is maintaining a 4.0 GPA while still balancing everything else! Nina’s fierce determination to succeed has been incredible to watch. We're all so proud of her."

     As Nina ends her time in Bridge's transitional housing, she’s switching into Bridge’s Pathways program, locking in an affordable rent for the next year as she completes her degree. She’s thankful for the opportunities she’s had in Bridge, and knows her life would have been very different without it. “It’s been a life saver and a game changer for me,” Nina says. “There’s no way I could have had this life for my kids and saved money without the support of the program, the resources it offered, and the people involved. Bridge is just an awesome program that gives people a second chance.” 

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