Mission: The Bridge Ministry’s mission is to transform the lives of troubled men and their families by providing mentoring, vocational skills, education, and the relationships they need to bridge the gap from addiction to productive community and family life.
Community Need: Drug abuse both nationally and locally is a major problem when it comes to public safety and the burden it places on our health care system. There is a local and national heroin and opioid epidemic, as well as the rise of the use of meth-amphetamines, the use of cocaine, and the abuse of prescription medication. Their program also addresses the issue of homelessness and the indigent population in the community. The majority of the individuals they serve are homeless and have no financial resources whatsoever because those resources have been exhausted through destructive behaviors involving substance abuse. The program also addresses single parent families and one income households that are contributing to lower socioeconomic circumstances for children in the community growing up without their fathers who are incarcerated. In a recent study by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, more than 60% of children in single parent families in the City of Charlottesville live on or near the poverty line while only 20% of children in married families live on or near the poverty line. Not only do they provide individual counseling, but also counseling that involves the entire family. They also teach students financial literacy and workplace readiness skills that make them more employable.
Constituents Served: The Bridge Ministry accepts men over the age of 18 from throughout the state of Virginia with a focus on Central Virginia, including the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, as well as Augusta and Nelson County. In 2017, they served 36 students. Approximately 20% of the students are ages 18-25, 60% are ages 25-55, and 20% are over 55 years old. Also, approximately 20% of the students they serve are veterans and more than 50% of the students would otherwise be homeless. They have completed renovations to their dormitory and library on the campus in order to accommodate up to 45 students at a time, 10 of these beds reserved for students from the Central Blue Ridge area.
Primary Activities: The Bridge Ministry has a two-phase program which 1) receives men into an eighteen-month residential program in Buckingham County; and 2) allows certain men the opportunity to complete the last six months of the program in the Intern House in Charlottesville, Virginia.
While the students are in the program, they are able to participate in a variety of vocational training opportunities. These opportunities include training in auto mechanic work, body shop work, manufacturing and assembly, landscaping, gardening, onsite construction, heating and air conditioning, electrical work, and heavy machinery operation.
Students also participate in classes at five days per week where they learn how to communicate in a positive way, work with others, lead their families, manage their finances, and become a productive member of their communities. The Bridge is a certified GED testing location, so students are able to earn their GED while in the program.
Amount Requested: $10,000
Operating Budget: $600,000