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If you give someone hope, you give them dignity and a change of mindset. HOPE = Healing = Wholeness.

Roman 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

The Christian Caring Center became an affiliate of the National Bridge of Hope Program 15 years ago. Our vision is to prevent and end homelessness for families with children across the United States and Canada by calling churches into action. A unique model: a three-way partnership among families facing homelessness, Church-based Neighboring Volunteers trained to provide practical support and encouragement, and professional staff. Rather than offering short-term solutions, the Bridge of Hope Neighborhood of Support is designed to last 12 to 24 months to give families the time and opportunities necessary for long-term change. Typically, it is a single woman or man and now 2 parent families and their children that are facing homelessness. The family, with the support of their Case Manager and Neighboring Volunteers, works toward goals of acquiring safe and sustainable housing, building strong and resilient families and creating supportive relationships with their Neighboring Volunteers. Our Bridge of Hope offers weekly case management meetings with a social worker, and we provide a decreasing rental subsidy along with the neighboring volunteers. The family picks out the safe affordable rental and within 12 months of the decreasing rental assistance, they are fully sustainable and stay in that rental. ● According to the National Traumatic Stress Network Families now make up 40 percent of the country’s homeless population. Within these families, more than 1.3 million children are homeless at some time each year. On any given day, at least 800,000 Americans, including about 200,000 children, find themselves without a home. Many of these families and children have experienced trauma prior to becoming homeless and homelessness can exacerbate the consequences of trauma or retraumatize a child, resulting in a cycle that is tragically damaging and costly to both individuals and communities.

● All year long we all listened to news reports on how children are in a mental crisis in our schools. This crisis is primarily with

children who have a home, a safe space to retreat to. Can you imagine school to be your only safe environment?

● More than 90 percent of sheltered and low-income mothers have experienced physical and sexual assault over their lifespan.

● Research points to some stark realities for children in poverty. “Parents who are struggling to maintain steady employment and cover the cost of housing are not the only ones carrying the stress of living in poverty. Their children experience it too—in ways that can harm their development.” (2022 Kids Count Data Book, p. 4) ● Children bear the brunt of homelessness.

• Homeless children are sick at twice the rate of other children. They suffer twice as many ear infections, have four times the rate of asthma, and have five times more diarrhea and stomach problems.

• Homeless children go hungry twice as often as non-homeless children.

• More than one-fifth of homeless preschoolers have emotional problems serious enough to require professional care but less than one-third receive any treatment.

• Homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade compared to non-homeless children.

• Homeless children have twice the rate of learning disabilities and three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems of non-homeless children.

• Half of school-age homeless children experience anxiety, depression, or withdrawal compared to 18 percent of non-homeless children.

• By the time homeless children are eight years old, one in three has a major mental disorder. These are not only challenges in themselves but may act as “secondary adversities” putting a child at greater risk for trauma reactions and making recovery difficult.

Our Bridge of Hope program focuses on the mental, spiritual, and physical wellness of our consumers. This case management compliments the Christian Caring Center’s other high-quality services offered for vulnerable individuals with a history of housing insecurity and low-income persons at-risk of housing insecurity. Our objective is to offer support and resources that contribute to stable and productive mental health and increase participants’ awareness about balancing the body, mind, emotions, and spirit for overall personal well-being.

Mental Health Wellness options include an evaluation of a consumer’s current and past mental health, holistic therapies, referrals to collaborating mental health agencies, weekly case management follow up, and monthly activities with a collaborating church of volunteers (neighboring volunteers). Neighboring volunteers are a group of 6 to 10 people from within a

Christian faith community (Church, Bible study, small group, etc.) who answer the call of Jesus to “love your neighbor.” With the Strangers to Neighbors® volunteer training curriculum from Bridge of Hope, these volunteers simply do life with a family facing homelessness by offering tangible and emotional support and encouragement as they engage with the family in faith and life.

This is the most important part of the ministry, sharing the Gospel, showing love through the Word of God, and welcoming them into the body of Christ! We spend a lot of time giving and, but this is the best gift. If you would like to donate or volunteer, our volunteer application and donate button is online on our website or stop by the Christian Caring Center or the Village Thrift Shop. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you can have Jesus in your life. You don’t need extraordinary qualifications or a lot of money; He accepts you as you are. Thank you for sharing your prayers, time, and financial gifts to spread this wonderful Gospel to the people we serve at the Christian Caring Center.

Abiding in Him,

Madelyn Sutton

Executive Director


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