Our Response During COVID-19

April 8, 2020

Dear Bridges’ Community,
Thank you to you, our #BridgeBuilder community, for checking in on our families. We have been busy these last three weeks pivoting on services to our families, on the ways in which volunteers can support our mission virtually, and on events.
For services to our families in our housing program, we have moved communications to phone, video, email, and regular postal mail. Our team has been working tirelessly to identify as many online services as possible for them. For families in shelter, while many of them chose to stay in their rooms, our essential staff check on them daily, and we continue to operate 24/7.
For our youth, our Youth Development Manager has created educational “Anti-boredom Bundles” to keep them occupied while at home. You can get involved by emailing volunteer@bridges2.org for more details.
We know at this point that approximately 85% of our families are unemployed. To support them, Bridges took a risk to hire an Employment Services Specialist to help our families navigate unemployment benefits, to enroll them with online certifications these next few weeks, and to help them apply for industries that are hiring.
For volunteers, we moved tutoring and mentoring online, which has its challenges that we are still navigating. We will be participating in the Arlington Chamber’s virtual Volunteer Day and continue to provide Volunteer Arlington with a list of updated needs. We launched “social distance friendly” drop-off bins last week at the shelter. To see a current list of our needs, click on the links below, and email volunteer@bridges2.org for questions and receipts.
For events, we will move our annual fundraiser and anniversary celebration, the Bridges’ Bash, to a virtual community update with Arlington County Board Member, Matt de Ferranti. Instead, we will hope to see you in the summer for Kickball or in the fall for an Anniversary Breakfast and update on our families. More details to come.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Bridges Board of Directors. They have provided strong leadership, strong connections, and strong investments, during a very challenging time. Please join me in sharing their special message in the video below.
As a reminder, this year marks 35 years of Bridges to Independence (formerly the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless) working with you in our community to make a difference. Please take care of you and your networks first, and if you are able to help our families in need, we welcome your support.
Thank you,
Samuel L. Kelly, Jr.
CEO
Bridges to Independence

 

 

 

 

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March 16, 2020

Dear Bridges’ Community,
As you are aware, federal, state, county, and local governments are responding to the recent pandemic by providing up-to-the-minute guidance with regards to operational best practices for COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Bridges is following recommended best practices while simultaneously ensuring the continued care for our homeless families. I care more about the safety and well-being of our families, staff, and you, our #BridgeBuilder community, than anything else, and as such, taking preventive measures is the only way to move forward.
Thus, Bridges has decided to suspend group volunteer activities until further notice. Volunteer committees will be asked to meet virtually. To care for our youth, individual tutoring and individual Youth Leadership Academy mentoring may continue and will be coordinated through Alex Gavin. Other individual volunteer activities will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis through Christina Armstrong. Our non-essential staff will work remotely. We are carefully assessing a way to continue our mission to serve our families at a time when they need us most, while simultaneously protecting our staff, volunteers, and families during an otherwise alarming international event.
At the shelter, we are taking additional preventative measures. Every family was given extra hand sanitizer and soap. We also ordered masks, bleach, new sponges, and gloves, among other items. We will continue to deep clean common areas and provide families with cleaning supplies.
However, we need your help in addressing other short term and longer term impacts to our families. In the short term, as you know, many products in the stores are running low, some shelves are emptied, and a few online products are on back order. If you would like to help our families, please consider donating:
  • small denomination gift cards (such as Visa and Mastercard) so our families can use online or in local neighborhood businesses,
  • sanitizers or non-toxic cleaning supplies,
  • bottled water,
  • packaged food, dried goods, healthy kids’ snacks, or frozen packaged meals. No open, prepared, or leftover food will be accepted at this time.
As we take precautions as a community, we invite you to consider donating money to our programs and services so that we may rapidly respond to the changing needs of our families and the community. This includes:
  • families losing wages due to businesses losing revenue and cutting hours;
  • families struggling to feed their children due to school closures and the lost benefit of free lunches and breakfasts;
  • families being unable to work from home or take leave without pay, this due to most of them being in hourly jobs;
  • families struggling to balance work and child care needs, this given the aforementioned school closures.
All to say, our families need your help.
To coordinate deliveries, get more details on how you can help, or make financial donations, please contact Christina Armstrong (carmstrong@bridges2.org) or (703) 525-7177 x127.
This year marks 35 years of Bridges to Independence (formerly the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless) working with you in our community to make a difference. We encourage you to take care of you and your networks first, and if you are able to help our families in need, we invite your support.
Thank you,
Samuel L. Kelly, Jr.
CEO
Bridges to Independence