Archives for Kylee Pusteoska

#thankful

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

I am all about a good hashtag. I mean, I loooove clever hashtags and support the overuse of them much to my son’s dismay. In fact, there was a stressful day in my former work life when I spent most of the day speaking in hashtags. But there is something about #blessed that makes me itchy. Don’t get me wrong…I think it is great that people appreciate what they have. And I totally think we should be more aware of the blessings God surrounds us with. However, #blessed is so overused and misused…I can’t do it. During our prayer time this week, Michelle, our marketing coordinator, presented a lesson on gratitude. It was wonderful and really got me thinking about all the ways Bridgehaven has been blessed but I refused to be #blessed so instead, I will be #thankful.

First, I would be a horrible development director if I wasn’t first #thankful for all of our wonderful donors. I met the sweetest lady this week. She has been retired from Alliant Energy for years and participates in their volunteer program that allows employees and retirees to complete volunteer service in the community and earn money to donate to local organizations. She and her husband stopped in with a check and were so delightful. I was able to share more about what we do and they were amazed by our impact in the community. “I can’t wait to tell all my friends about how wonderful you are.” That is a good day in my world. There are stories like this that happen every day. Some donors support us every month without fail. Some write checks with lots of zeros and a nun in Cedar Rapids mails in coins. And no matter what the amount is, it is always humbling when someone wants to join us in our mission.

A big piece of supporting that mission is Treasures. Treasures is located on 8th Avenue and is such a joyful part of our ministry. This resale shop houses some of the most spunky 90+ year old volunteers you could ever meet. These gals, and a few gentlemen, come in every week to make sure merchandise is sorted, cleaned, priced and sold for very reasonable prices. They take pride in having a beautiful store that features customer service that will knock your socks off. And those who donate to the store provide beautiful items and fabulous clothes and we are humbled to be chosen when there are so many options in our community. All of this, from the sorters and cashiers to the donors, provide support to the ministry in a meaningful way and fund our pregnancy support center in ways that were unimaginable when the original women were hosting pop-up garage sales across town when this aspect of the ministry began. I hate to be too cutesy but Treasures really is a treasure in so many ways.

Bridgehaven is also wealthy in the way of volunteers. Would you guess it takes over 200 volunteers every month and over 450 throughout the year to run our ministry? These volunteers do everything from drive vans to pick up food at Target to counsel the men and women who walk through our doors every day facing an unplanned pregnancy and they are led by a dynamo staff member, Leanne, who cooks them turkey dinners, gives tours and has a heart for this ministry that is contagious. Our volunteers are so talented and so giving of themselves. It is really a testimony to watch them serve.

Where can I even start in describing the staff at Bridgehaven? It is a gift to watch them love clients and work with people in all circumstances surrounding pregnancy. I have watched them pray with clients, celebrated with them as they tell stories of transformation and seen their hearts break when they are unable to help those who come here. These women, and Dale, are completely dedicated to serving the Lord through our clients and it is so cool to watch them work every day. I am in awe of their patience, kindness, hard work and love.

Cedar Rapids is a community rich with non-profits who do great work in so many areas. It is great to see how people support all these different organizations and it makes it even more humbling when donors, volunteers and staff members choose to become part of the Bridgehaven family. The work is important and we are able to help more families every year because of a huge group of people. Our light grows brighter in the community only through the goodness in those who choose to give and to serve here. It is trite to say we are #thankful but there really aren’t words to express what it is like to see God moving in the hearts of everyone involved with our ministry.

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. 2 Corinthians 9:8

kylee pusteoska

Kylee Pusteoska

Development Director

Drop-off Lane

God is good. He wants His best for me. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Check. Check. Check. Being a Christian is easy. It is so easy to agree to all of this when life is good…when things are easy. It is simple to embrace these promises when God’s will is lining up with ours. We get the sense God is blessing our plans and life is good. Being a Christian is easy. Except when it’s not. Except when we are also single moms working full-time. Or when we go on another date that ends horribly. Or when we are waiting in the drop-off lane at Solon Middle School in the morning…

The morning was going great. I got up with my alarm and was able to complete my devotional and a little prayer time. K got up with relatively little grumbling. My hair dried quickly and the protein shake was tasty. Life was good as we headed to town and practiced Spanish nouns for K’s quiz. The sun was shining on the beautiful fields…ah, it was a movie type morning. If I turned down the horrible rap music blasting in the car, I am sure I could have heard birds chirping. Sigh. Awesome mom moment. School on time. Child rested, fed and ready for school. And then it happened…the drop-off lane.
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Noah

For many Cedar Rapidians, the images of a flooded Houston bring back painful memories of 2008 in Iowa. Or even 2016 as the city braced again for possible flooding. As we reflect on how the city really came together during those times and we saw love demonstrated beyond what we could imagine, we spent some time in prayer today as a staff looking at the story of Noah and his famous ark. And while I’m not sure we can even conjure up an idea of how horrible the smell must have been on that boat after being shut up for about a year, I think there are even more important things to consider.

As Beth, our prayer leader for the day, led us through the scripture, I wondered about how the family got along during that time…shut up with no sun, no fresh air for so long. I mean, I love my siblings and their spouses but that was waaaay longer than a holiday weekend. It is only through the grace of God all the humans survived the trip, let alone the animals. But then Beth read us a devotional which pointed out maybe Noah’s response to God wasn’t as radical as we imagine it to be. Wait, what? Did she really just say building a huge ship on dry land and trying to convince people there would be a huge flood and the world would be wiped clean was not radical? Now, Beth is typically the voice of reason in the Development area but I was worried she might have hit her head or something. How could the idea of going against all his neighbors and convincing his sons to gather the animals of the Earth to get on a huge boat not crazy? Why did she think this was just a normal day for Noah?
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Teen Conversation

As the clients who walk through the doors of Bridgehaven get younger and my son gets older, I feel like my worlds will soon collide. Wait…that doesn’t sound right. What I mean is I have to start looking at my son, my baby, as a potential client. He hates when I call him my baby. I do it all the time on social media and he is like, “Stop, mom. I am not your baby.” Ah, buddy, you are absolutely wrong. Despite the fact that you grow taller than me daily, you will always be my baby…the one your dad and I prayed to God for for years and years. But you are right. You aren’t a baby. You are a young man. And that scares the crap out of me.

Parenting a teenager is not for the faint of heart. I say this like I know even though mine has only been an actual teenager for a few months. The facts are not pleasant to look at. According to the most recent CDC findings (cdc.gov) reported in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance 2015 report, nearly 10 million new STDs reported each year were among young people between the ages of 15-24; nearly 230,000 babies were born to teen girls aged 15-19 in 2015; 20% of surveyed students nationwide had ridden in a car or other vehicle one or more times with a driver who had been drinking alcohol; 41% of surveyed students had texted or emailed while driving a car; 22% of students surveyed had been in a physical fight one or more times; over 20% of students had been bullied on school property and 15.5% electronically bullied (email, chat rooms, social media); 14.6% of students nationwide had made a plan about how they would attempt suicide; 63% have tried alcohol and 44% had usually obtained the alcohol they drank by someone giving it to them; 21% were offered, sold or given an illegal drug. Kinda makes you feel sick, doesn’t it?
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Harold

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

Donor relations. Doesn’t it sound fancy and complicated? If you google it, there are books and seminars and discussion boards. It must be difficult. It must be impossible to make all your donors happy. Lucky for me, I had good teachers in my previous job (Huge thank you to Jean Johnson and Kelly Allen!). The key to having good donor relations is simply honoring those people who give to your organization. It isn’t rocket science to understand people want to feel valued. They want to feel like their gifts were important and that the organization appreciates what they have given.

Last week, we received a generous donation from a long-time supporter in memory of his wife and I noticed his address had changed to a care center in the area. It made me wonder how he was doing and if he would appreciate some visitors. In my past life as an assistant in the alumni relations department at Coe College, a wise woman showed me how to truly care for the people who are connected to your organization. She would take flowers to those with special birthdays and visit sick alums in the hospital. And it seemed like she was never too busy to attend a funeral of someone close to Coe. She instilled in me a belief that without loyal supporters, your organization will not thrive. People have chosen to support what you do when you work in a non-profit and they certainly don’t have to. They could easily donate to a different group or not at all. The love they have for what you do should be honored and celebrated. My passion for non-profit work started with Jean and I hope I am able to pass it on to someone else someday.
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Fishers of Men

Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men…Mark 1:17

Jesus commanded the disciples to drop everything and go out into the world…out into the big, scary world and fish for men. Wait, what? What does that even mean? I have tried online dating to “catch” a man but this message must mean something very different since it comes to us from the gospel of Mark. I have had some time to really sit with this verse for the last 9 months since I came to work at Bridgehaven. I swear that the 9 month thing is just a very cool coincidence…

As it turns out, this seemingly simple verse has such rich depth. When you really think about it, fishing is an act of faith. You throw your baited hook out into the water and hope for the best. You can’t see the fish but you hope they are there. Your success is dependent on so many things, most of which are outside of your control. So, you must believe.
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The Ring


I don’t like to share. Ask anyone and they will confirm that. I consider myself generous but try to take one of my Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs and you might think differently. One thing I never imagined sharing with another woman was my son. When I brought K home from the hospital, I thought I would be the only woman in his life until he started dating. God must have smiled at my dreams because He knew there was a lesson coming for me.

Divorce was also something I didn’t see happening to me. But like many people, it did and I survived probably the most painful time in my life. Not once during that time did I consider that my ex-husband would have a new wife…someone who would be a step-mom to my only child. It was enough to get through the days without adding another level of pain and confusion, I guess. When he let me know he was getting re-married, it put me into another tailspin I didn’t imagine. Even though I had put the relationship behind me and knew we were better off apart, it was more agonizing than I could have imagined. With the help of my faith, family and friends, I lived through a couple of really dark weeks.
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Stubborn Like Me

I think it’s safe to say I’m stubborn. My parents would totally back me up in that statement. If you ever meet my dad, you should ask him about the Green Bean Incident of like…1985ish. It wasn’t pretty. In some important ways, being stubborn is a great quality. I tend to work at something until it is finished. I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. And I think it naturally lends itself to being a loyal person. On the other hand, it also leads to some less than stellar things…like having a hard time letting go of things. Or even allowing other people to help me. It also causes me to think I can do everything by myself. It’s not that I am not a team player because I absolutely am. It is more that I don’t want to burden anyone else with my “stuff”, so I try to do it all alone.

As it turns out, this is not what Jesus wants…and it causes me to read books and books and books about having faith, learning to trust God and the latest idea, that I don’t have to prove myself to Him. In fact, I can’t prove myself because I am a broken person. There are so many ways that I find myself broken; it is actually pretty embarrassing. You learned in this blog about how I failed Client Advocate training and in this blog about how I have a hard time listening to God. Geez, I am a mess. The good news for me and for everyone is that God doesn’t care. In fact, he expects me to be a mess because it is when I admit that I am a mess and ask for help, he is able to show up in huge ways.
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Failing Client Advocate Training

I have to be honest. If it was a graded course, I would probably be failing. This is tough to admit for someone who fought against an A- in my master’s coursework at UNI. I pride myself on being someone who loves to study and always wants to be prepared. But this class…is kicking my butt.

Some of the newer staff members at Bridgehaven are participating in Client Advocate training with Haley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy. We feel it is important for all of our staff to understand what happens in the counseling rooms as it is truly the heart of our ministry. In my case, I also want to be able to talk to donors in an educated way about how we love on our clients. It seemed like such a good idea…it would be interesting and easy. That is absolutely not the case.
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What’s Your Mission?

It’s that time of year again. Do you have a list of resolutions you plan to embark on? Do you have to start on January 1 for them to count? Or could you start the 2nd because it is a Monday…but what if you have Monday off to observe the holiday and so the year “really” starts on Tuesday, January 3rd? Is your list filled with things like lose weight, save more money, read more books, spend time with the kids or quit smoking? What should our focus be in 2017? What is God calling us to do in this new year?

I will admit something to you. I am a planner girl. I mean a paper and colored pens and stickers kind of planner girl. Sometimes, I do things and then write them down in my planner so that I can cross them off and feel good about my day. So, I maybe should have said I am a crazy, fanatic…I mean serious planner girl. I spent days looking online this year at different planners and different reviews of planners and even blog posts about planners. It was a big year for me. I decided I was going to switch planners from the one I had been using for the last 5 years. This was a big deal. But I did it.
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