In Her Shoes

As we are rapidly approaching Bridgehaven’s In Her Shoes 5k Run/Walk, on Saturday, September 30th, I am reflecting on the whole idea behind the title of this walk. Our clients’ faces, stories, and circumstances come to my mind, and I am incredibly humbled by what it means to really walk in her shoes.

When I think about the start of the route we will be traveling on, I can see in my mind on our clients who so bravely walk through our doors every day to start the beginning of their journey. Sometimes, this looks and seems paralyzing. There is no way to even think about taking another step because of the deep-seated fear and anxiety that pulses through someone’s body with even the thought of a potential pregnancy. Sometimes, it feels exciting and joyful to walk through those doors to hear the news of a long-awaited dream and desire that has been placed on their hearts coming true. Sometimes, it feels like this was the farthest thing from their mind, but here they are, at this place, at the start of their journey, and they are seeking someone to come alongside them to help empower and give them hope.
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Back to School

“Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.” — W.B. Yeats

For the past decade, a rich practical way of sharing the gospel has been available for families through the Back to School Supply Distribution program. This annual event offers support, encouragement and provision in the lives of parents and children in the Earn While You Learn program at Bridgehaven. Client Support will be accepting school supplies that will support our active clients in the Earn While You Learn program for this coming school year.

The goal and prayer for the Back to School Distribution is to ease the financial burden and stress for families, especially single-parent households, to promote community connectedness and establish Kingdom demonstrations of God’s goodness.

The Earn While You Learn program is a transformational model that promotes growth, learning, healthy relationships and accountable support. Clients earn material assistance and yearly benefits, such as school supplies by attending empowerment-focused classes (i.e. life skills, parenting, relationship, and Bible studies).
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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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Catching Love in Action

For most of us, Thanksgiving is a time of family, food and football. We anticipate a favorite dish, whether it be Aunt Nancy’s mashed potatoes or Cousin Andi’s Asian salad. Some are concerned about the outcome of the Cowboys game. Still others worry about cleaning their bathrooms for the in-laws who will be spending the weekend. But what if you were the Development Director at a local non-profit? This would mean you were planning a wonderful Giving Tuesday campaign for your beloved charity.

Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday…November 29th this year. Traditionally, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate philanthropy. Around the globe, social media lights up with wonderful stories about the valuable work of of non-profits, along with a call to financially support these great organizations. We, at Bridgehaven, happen to be pretty proud of the work we do and I can’t wait to share that with the world.
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Volunteers make a difference

At Bridgehaven, our volunteers are the life-blood of what we do and how much we accomplish. In just the first six months of 2016, our volunteers have put in an astounding 10,153 hours, which correlates to 10 full-time staff! We consider our volunteers an amazing gift for which we are very grateful.

Leanne Rezac welcomes and supports volunteers in her new role of Volunteer Relations Manager

Leanne Rezac welcomes and supports volunteers in her new role of Volunteer Relations Manager

In 2015, we began to notice the many changes in the organization affecting the volunteer experience. To get a better handle on this and to ensure our volunteers were well taken care of, Leanne Rezac, formerly Volunteer & Special Events Coordinator, was transitioned to the role of Volunteer Relations Manager.

As Volunteer Relations Manager, Leanne has three focus areas: Recruiting, Engagement and Retention. In addition, she is responsible for on-boarding, training, connecting with and organizing volunteers for various projects. Currently we have 218 active volunteers, working out of two locations (Treasures Quality Resale Shoppe moved to a new location on 8th Ave. SE in 2014). A network of this size needed full-time resources allocated to their care and support. We are blessed to be able to make this happen for our dedicated and loyal volunteers.

In an effort to stay connected with each other throughout the year, we recently launched Friends 4 Life. This new group will provide opportunities for staff and volunteers to come together periodically outside the walls of Bridgehaven and Treasures. We had a great turnout at our first event, a Backyard BBQ, held on June 24 at Bridgehaven which included food, fun, fellowship and some great music.

On behalf of all our dedicated staff and volunteers, I thank you for your support. Without you, we would not be able to make changes like these that benefit the operations of the entire ministry. These changes are strategic and in the end make for a life-changing experience for our clients.

Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Enlarging Our Territory

client support

“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me…”
1 Chronicles 4:10

We have been in our new Client Support area (former Treasures Store space) since the end of February 2016. One of our goals with this remodel was to improve our client experience. Now that we have several months in this new space and are settled, we asked our volunteers for feedback on the changes that have been made.

Q. Share some personal insight on the new Client Support space.

  • “We certainly put our best foot forward for our clients and I believe that pleases God.”
  • “Clients love it, we love it! We love the look, decorations, and rooted tree.”
  • “Love the new improved space! Storage space is an improvement, room for more and ease of use.”
  • “I like the window for natural sunlight and to see the clients come so we can help at the door.”
  • “We do “let our little light shine” and we surely “don’t hide it under a bushel.”
  • “The more I make their shopping personable, the more they appreciate and give back smiles.”

Q. How do you see the expanded space has improved our ministry?

  • “Clients have more space to be able to shop for their families more effectively. Providing such a nice space shows the clients respect, which in turn promotes appreciation and more interest in what we have to offer.”
  • “All materials are easy to see and find.”
  • “It is more open and more accommodating for clients. We are able to stock more and provide more food options. All this and His loving care and education they receive from our support staff/instructors encourage them to invite their friends and family.”
  • “It looks more like a convenience store…come and see.”
  • “The positive feedback from staff, volunteers, and clients is a testimony of what God is doing thru Bridgehaven. For the staff and volunteers, the new space has allowed us to better serve the women.”
  • “Volunteers and clients don’t feel so cramped and it makes it so much easier to serve the clients. It is a more positive experience for them.”
  • “It has helped incredibly! We love the new space and extra room for storing all our food and specialty items.”
  • “More efficient, welcoming space, attractive, less stress for volunteers, staff, and clients. Clients don’t have to wait as long for their turn to shop, hence less time out of their day. We are able to receive more donations.”

Q. Where do you see God leading Client Support?

  • “He is using the ministry to reach more and more people. They learn from the classes and are helped with their needs.”
  • “Opening new doors, allowing Bridgehaven to expand our current outreach.”
  • “I see growth for clients and an increase of blessings on them and on Cedar Rapids. We are bathed in prayer and sustained by His people.”
  • “To support, influence, and partner with greater number of families in our community for healing (spiritually and physically) as we personally pray with clients each week. I believe God is touching hearts as He feeds them and their children, as He relieves financial stress from their lives, and as they feel our love for each of them; individually caring about them as a person not as a project.”
  • “I see no end to what God can do for Client Support. The ministry is genuine and I can see the clients from week to week grow in their spiritual lives and share stories of what is going on in their life.”

Q. What have you seen that has caused you to praise God?


  • “I’ve seen friendship and smiles among clients grow.”
  • “I’ve been blessed by the clients and it’s been my privilege to serve them. It was so neat when the new area was opened to see the reaction of the clients. It was like seeing “Disney” for the first time.”
  • “I helped a client pray for her father-in-law.”
  • “I love seeing how God provides so much for this ministry. Blessed to be a part of this!”
  • “Praise the Lord, a client mentioned a fellow classmate was having difficulty and was looking out for her!”
  • “It’s thrilling when an instructor lets us know a client has trusted Jesus. Her salvation and family being led by her is truly a blessing.”
  • “Clients tell us thank you over and over. They are happy for the things they receive and happy to see us each week. I was gone one week and they noticed it and said they missed me. It is amazing the donations we receive from stores and individuals.”
  • “I love being able to pray with clients…some have had accidents at work and need physical healing…some have worries and concerns about finances…some just want to feel others care about their family/situation and they aren’t alone…Jesus is healing them and I get to be a part of that…so cool!”
  • “I see the women conversing with each other more in this space then I did before. I have also been able to have conversations differently; feels more welcoming, inviting, and loving.”
  • “When moms who’ve recently had a baby and have been referred to Bridgehaven for a layette, arrive to pick it up, they are intrigued about the “store.” They will comment about it and that opens the door to explaining that they too can “shop” once a week, as they take classes. That leads them to ask questions about class topics/options which usually elicits an amazed response about the wide variety offered. And that is how God directs some of our clients to us!”

We praise God for this new area and the blessing it has been to both clients and volunteers. We thank our donors who have made this possible.

Dawn Michaels

Dawn Michael

Director of Client Support

Generosity and Surrender

Generosity and SurrenderRecently through conversations I have been having with others, the words “surrender” and “generosity” seem to keep arising. I started reflecting on these words through prayer. I thought about how they were applying to my life currently and what God was trying to tell me through these messages from others. Then last night, I opened up a book I have been reading, and the chapter was entitled, “Generosity: Freedom through Surrender”. Wow. Don’t you just love those God moments? Then, directly below the chapter title was a quote that stated, “The deepest longing of a woman’s heart is to give herself lovingly.” This got me thinking for a while. Was I living out this deepest longing and desire and giving myself lovingly to others? And if I was living it out, in what ways was I doing this?

We frequently hear about the importance of generosity and the positive impact it can have on all those involved. We may hear of the different ways we can be generous through individual time, talent, or treasure. However, do we stop to sit with these thoughts about how generosity is truly lived out through us before dismissing them as just another lecture about giving? Have you thought about the ways you abundantly give of yourself, and maybe the ways you don’t give as frequently? What do you think makes one more frequently lived out than the others? What are some of the motives or desires for the ways in which you give of yourself? How does surrendering tie into the ways in which your generosity is lived out? Do we perhaps need to spend some time in prayer reflecting on how generosity could potentially play a bigger role in our everyday lives?

These are all different questions we can ponder and take straight to God to help make the answers more clear to us. I challenge you during this upcoming Christmas season to really spend time in prayer thinking about the ways in which God is calling you to become a stronger version of your generous self. If we surrender ourselves, we trust God will provide the time we need to allow our generosity to be lived out. People tend to worry they won’t have enough time to give of themselves in various ways, but God always has a way of opening up the time necessary to be generous people.

We don’t have to look far at all to figure out the very clear signs God is placing in front of us. It could be lovingly giving of ourselves through volunteering at a local organization you are passionate about, helping an elderly woman take out her groceries from the store, reaching out to a family member who you haven’t had contact with in years, allowing a listening ear and shoulder to cry on for a friend who is grieving a recent loss, or even purchasing and delivering gifts for a family you know who is struggling financially this Christmas season.

God is calling us to give of ourselves and surrender to His will in so many extraordinary ways. We must be willing to open our eyes, ears, hearts and minds to what He is trying to share with us. My prayer for all of you is that you may allow God to transform your heart and mind so you may have a deep longing and desire to give of yourselves lovingly in the ways He has planned for your life.

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

Buy 1 Give 10

Stuck or Positioned...It's Your Choice

“Stuck or Positioned; It’s Your Choice”. This is the title of the new book by Gail McWilliams, the keynote speaker from our banquet in May. This title intrigues me, while at the same time, terrifies me. In presenting two options – stuck or positioned – it leaves the decision up to you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be stuck!

When I think of being stuck, I think of the time I drove to Six Flags near Chicago and got stuck in traffic for two hours. Not only did it slow me down, but it took precious time away from a fun, enjoyable day at the park. Being stuck means we are here when we really want to be there, and we seem to have no control over our placement.

I’m reminded of Esther’s story in the Bible. She was a young woman who lost her parents and was adopted by her cousin, Mordecai. When she was older, she was chosen to go to the palace of King Xerxes with other young, beautiful, and single women from all over the kingdom. After months of preparation and pampering, Esther appeared before the king and was chosen from all the other women to become queen. Esther was a Jew, but she had concealed her heritage from the king. When a plot was made to destroy the Jewish people, Mordecai encouraged Esther to approach the king in order to save her people, even though doing so would endanger her own life. Mordecai sent Esther these words:

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Mordecai’s words contained a warning and a promise. The warning was to Esther: if she remained stuck and did not act, she would perish. But the promise was twofold: God would deliver the Jews AND he had chosen Esther to do this. Esther felt stuck, but she was actually positioned.

If you read Esther’s story, you will discover that she did approach the king, and the Jewish people were saved. Esther decided to not let fear control her and to believe that she was positioned. It made all the difference.

Where have you found yourself stuck? Although I can’t tell you an amazing story about a hidden purpose behind my two hours stuck in traffic on the way to Six Flags, I do have other moments where I know I was in the right place at the right time. What if we viewed our entire life this way, choosing to see our here and now as where we are positioned to be?

Reading “Stuck or Positioned…It’s Your Choice” is one way to stay encouraged and to encourage others. Use our special code (life101) when ordering online, and for every one book sold, Gail will give $10 to Bridgehaven! This Buy 1 Give 10 offer is good until September 30.

Visit gailmcwilliams.com/giveback to be inspired and support life with your purchase today. Use Code: life101

Jessica Bass

Development Director

Planting Seeds of Hope and Education

“The smallest act of giving makes you a true apprentice” – Matthew 10:42

School Supply Drive

Have you ever started a project and realized you didn’t have all the supplies needed to complete it? Have you felt the financial strain for resources? Are you looking for a way to help children locally?

Bridgehaven has a legacy of compassion, love, and support through ministry and acts focused on meeting families’ needs. Last year Bridgehaven was able to help 100 kids receive supplies for school. What an amazing way to inspire and model generosity for the younger generation.

As ambassadors of Christ, we are able to demonstrate unconditional love, planting seeds of hope and education for local children, through Bridgehaven’s Back to School Supply Drive.


Imagine the students you are helping, offering hope and resources that will aid in launching them into their destiny!

When I think about the privilege of teaching the younger generation by modeling the gift of giving, a few examples stand out from the Word of God. These Scriptures demonstrate the profound depth of God’s love, gift of giving and adoration for His little children.

“We are intimately linked in this harvest work…This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.” Matthew 10:42 (MSG)

“Then, gathering the children up in His arms, He laid His hands of blessing on them.” – Mark 10:14 (MSG)

We can be an extension of Jesus’ arm by gathering provisions and blessing our local children in their education. One donation can go farther and mean more then we may think.

In Matthew 2:1-12, we learn about the wise men bringing gifts to Jesus. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were not only for Jesus but were also a blessing for his parents; perhaps it helped fund their journey to Egypt.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

We can be “present-day wise men” who present gifts to a younger generation to help them focus on their education. These gifts aid in diminishing financial burdens.

The financial burden for parents can be stressful. Last year, TODAY NEWS reported that the average American family spent $100 per child on back to school supplies, “And school supplies are just part of the back-to-school tab. Add in clothing, shoes and electronics, and the average cost of sending a child back to class this year is $669.”

If you feel the call to aid in donating school supplies for local children, please bring donations into Bridgehaven by Friday, August 7, 2015 (701 Center Point Road NE).

We will need the following items: Loose leaf paper, Notebooks (wide and college ruled), 1 in. binders, Folders, Markers, Crayons, Colored pencils, Pens (red, black, blue), Highlighters, Erasers, Notecards, Glue, Glue sticks, Rulers, Protractors, Tissues, Hand Sanitizer, Clorox Wipes, Backpacks (all ages for boys and girls).

Many blessings to our families and students beginning to prepare and think about the 2015-2016 school year. May this year be a year of educational advancements and opportunity for all!

Dawn Michael

Director of Client Support

Many vs. One

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world! Dr. Seuss

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world!

This quote hangs on my laundry room door, and as I passed by it the other morning, it reminded me of a few other famous quotes:

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” Mother Teresa

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 (Jesus)

Dr. Seuss. Mother Teresa. Jesus. These are individuals who have had an enormous impact on the world. Their reach was great, and their legacy enduring. But their words stand in stark contrast to what our world values today. In our world, more is better. The larger the number of people affected, the higher the importance. The more startling the statistic, the more immediate the response. In a world where the number of people served equals the impact of the work, consider these statistics…

In Linn County, there are:

  • 5,230 people served by shelters; 52% of them are children (UWECI, FY2011)
  • 29% of children living in single-parent households (www.countyhealthrankings.org, 2014)
  • 1,401 teen births (www.countyhealthrankings.org, 2014)

In the world, there are:

  • 769 million people without water access (www.water.org)
  • 20.9 million people being trafficked (www.polarisproject.org)
  • 3.1 million children under five dying each year due to poor nutrition (www.wfp.org)

The needs in our community, let alone in our world, are big and overwhelming. It’s understandable that we feel the need to do more, to give more, to help more. But does the focus on the whole blind us to the need of the one?

Looking further into Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, we see a detailed picture of what he is talking about: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me… Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:35-36, 40) As we reflect on Jesus’ words, a few things are evident:

  1. The acts Jesus shares are simple. Giving someone food to eat or water to drink is not spectacular, but it is essential for life. Giving clothes or visiting a person in prison does not take special skills, but it shows compassion. These examples are possible for each of us.
  2. Our pride hinders us. It’s tempting to think we don’t have the time to stop for one person. If we are going to use our valuable time or resources, shouldn’t we be impacting at least a dozen if not hundreds of people? We must humble ourselves to meet the need of one. Here are a few ways to help one person or family through Bridgehaven:
    For other ideas, visit Bridgehaven’s website or look at the person next to you.

  3. Jesus realizes we are just one person. You won’t be able to provide water to the 769 million people in the world who are without, but you can provide a meal to one single mom who is struggling to manage work, home, and her children alone. You won’t be able to rescue 20.9 million people enslaved by trafficking, but you can open your home to one young girl who is homeless and unable to pay rent. You won’t be able to feed 3.1 million children, but you can bring one expecting mother to Bridgehaven to find encouragement and resources.

New worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.

If we are always looking at what we have left undone, we will miss the one thing that we can do.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

What one person can you help today?

Jessica Bass

Development Director