Freely Given

It’s achingly important to me to share the Good News to others that have not heard of the amazing love story of Jesus; His unfailing Love and Creative Authorship over our lives. It’s equally valuable to me to share those authorship stories of victory and personal walks with Jesus with the Body of Christ. I want to introduce you to a woman who is pursuing Jesus and allowing Jesus to pursue her wildly. In her own words, she briefly shares her journey with Jesus and Bridgehaven.

I pray her story edifies, exhorts, comforts you and brings endless glory to our King and Savior. For He is worthy!

Edify: to build up, to strengthen
Exhort: to stimulate, to encourage, to admonish
Comfort: to cheer up

(Dawn) Q: Will you share about your family?
(Client) A: “Our family of five consists of me, my significant other, our five-year old son, and our three-year-old and four-month-old daughters. We have one income so our budget is considerably tight. Bridgehaven helps us make ends meet.”

Through the Earn While You Learn program (EWYL), clients attend one class per week for one hour. Our transformational EWYL classes consist of 4 learning target areas: Parenting, Relationships, Life skills and Spiritual growth. As clients attend classes, with the purpose of learning and growing, they earn material assistance in our Care Clothes Closet and food/fresh produce pantry. Diapers, wipes, formula, household items, and personal hygiene products are included as well.

(Dawn) Q: How did you learn about Bridgehaven?
(Client) A: “I first learned of Bridgehaven in 2013 when I was pregnant with my second child. I returned to Bridgehaven in the fall of 2016 after learning I was pregnant with my third.”

Word of mouth is Bridgehaven’s greatest source of awareness for our clients. We often hear influential stories of new clients sharing that they learned about Bridgehaven through a friend, co-worker, or family member.

Many clients that come to Bridgehaven for a pregnancy test or ultrasound get connected into our EWYL program. As a part of the Bridghehaven community, we are granted the privilege to connect with the client in relationship through this program.

(Dawn) Q: What classes have you taken at Bridgehaven, in the Earn While You Learn program?
(Client) A: “During my time at Bridgehaven, I have taken two parenting classes. Most recently, Mighty Moms, a class designed specifically for mothers who face similar issues and share common goals.”

(Dawn) Q: What benefit have you and your family received from the EWYL program?
(Client) A: “Where should I start? The benefits my family and I have received from Bridgehaven are numerous. After learning I was pregnant, I was scared. I wasn’t at a place in my life where having another child was ideal. I wasn’t ready to bring another baby into the world. I mean I already had two under the age of four! I called Bridgehaven and almost immediately they squeezed me in for an appointment. After a pregnancy test I received an ultrasound (with pictures!) and medical advice from the sweetest nurse in the history of ever. Bridgehaven gave me the tools and confidence to prepare for those nine months of work. Believe me when I say it was my most difficult pregnancy. Bridgehaven was there for me through it all.

Since then, I’ve received diapers, pull-ups, clothing, child care, groceries, baby items, books, needed household items, prayers, and advice. I’ve developed friendships with my classmates, teachers and most importantly, Jesus, which is another story. I’ve received a sense of assurance and comfort knowing I’m not alone on this roller-coaster ride called motherhood and that there’s always someone to talk to–someone who can relate, understand, and care.”

A calling and initiative Bridgehaven is pursuing is connecting clients to local churches. We believe God has an overarching call upon Bridgehaven to be a “bridge” in the Cedar Rapids community. Being a “bridge” looks diverse and full of possibility. Imagine what this will look like: Ephesians 3:20 promises!

  • Bridging clients with the faith community.
  • Bridging the secular and faith communities with a common purpose: For the greater welfare of families and community.
  • Bridging families and women to knowledge, support and resources all within a loving environment and community.
  • Bridging men into a deeper knowledge, respect and power of fatherhood.

(Dawn) Q: Overall, what has your experience been with Bridgehaven?
(Client) A: “Honestly, I’m sad we only meet one hour a week. Sixty minutes goes by so quickly. Although diapers and pull-ups are my family’s greatest need, the need for a weekly refresher is even greater. I’m probably only half-way gathered because of those sixty minutes of therapy. Yes, it’s like spiritual therapy. I don’t even come for the diapers anymore. If Bridgehaven had a series of unfortunate events and was no longer able to provide them, I’d still come to class. That’s how important it has become. As moms with chaotic schedules, we need that kid-free hour to stop, breathe, pray, and regroup.”

In the EWYL program we offer free and safe child care for parents attending class. We have 14 children’s ministry volunteers that serve weekly alongside Natalie, our Children’s Ministry Coordinator. We serve, on average, 63 children each week. We are able to offer this unique gift only because we have volunteers who serve selflessly and love children. It is an opportunity to allow parents to join in a community of like-minded support and fellowship with other parents.

On average we provide 2,062 diapers or pull-ups a month to our EWYL clients. Wipes are included with a bundle of 6 diapers. Clients earn 1 bundle per week, as they attend class. We are able to provide this resource only through donations. Thank you for allowing us to continue this much needed resource and gift to parents.

The EWYL program offers 18-23 classes per week and 77 hours of instructional support weekly. That allows us to currently serve 107-122 clients per week in classes. Imagine the seeds, flow, and fruit of God-centered education going forth to so many families!

(Dawn) Q: Would you recommend Bridgehaven to others?
(Client) A: “Certainly. Especially to those in need and those looking to grow spiritually.”

(Dawn) Q: How would you describe Bridgehaven to someone else?
(Client) A: “An organization composed of people who make time to care for the women and children of our community. A group of people who love Jesus and by extension, others. Thank you Bridgehaven. Thank you teachers, staff, and volunteers. And, thanks to all those who donate in His name. Matthew 10:8b “…freely you have received; freely give.”

In closing, this class instructor would like to share her experience of having this client in her class:

“I have been an active volunteer at Bridgehaven for 10 years serving in various capacities as they have needed me. About 8 weeks ago, I started a study called Seamless.

This student would ask me many questions; so anxious and excited to ask questions about what she was reading. She was reading ahead in the book and just needed more and more of the Bible. It was amazing for me to see how quickly she came into desiring to know and share the Lord. And she has.

She has been an inspiration to me to continue instructing and mentoring these lovely ladies in the sphere of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What a privilege and honor to come along side and watch them grow, mature and lead their families in His path.

Blessings to all who call upon the Lord.” – Bible Study Instructor

Dawn Michaels

Dawn Michael

Director of Client Support

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