How “Bridges” Has Created Change

Courtney WaggleHealth & Wellness

Three years ago Lisa was homeless living under a bridge in Muskogee, addicted to drugs, and not wanting help. One very cold night a Bridges trained Muskogee Police officer brought her a box of blankets and non-cook food. That is the moment she decided there was hope. She turned to the Bridges Certified Gospel Rescue Mission who introduced her to our Getting Ahead Class. Since then Lisa has taken the Getting Ahead and Boundaries classes, volunteered on our food team, kept a steady job at Taco Bell, and just recently accepted a new position at an office, graduated Drug Court, attends daily AA meetings, purchased a vehicle from Bridges, and now has visitation with her 12-year-old daughter for the first time. She is asking if we will incorporate a GED program into our classes.

“How has Bridges impacted your life?”

Lisa – I have learned how to manage my money by being more efficient, how to set goals that are obtainable and to achieve them, how to have boundaries with others as well as myself which, in turn I have developed healthy relationships. Opposite of addiction is connection! Bridges CONNECTS.

Megan G.- I get overwhelmed with gratitude when I think about all of the ways that Bridges has positively impacted our lives. Cody and I both have stable careers that were direct results of the program. We have both built social capital within the community. Cody’s credit has gone up 150 points after he was given the opportunity to rebuild it through the car donation program. We both have a network of strong individuals who we can reach out to for help. I was asked to serve on the Muskogee Transportation Authority Board. And possibly the most important thing that Bridges has done is given me a resource to share with others who are struggling to improve their lives. And having an emergency fund has prevented SOO much anxiety during an already uncertain time. Words can not describe how important that little bit of security has meant to us this year.

Blanca L. – I have learned how to start saving, how to have boundaries, how to organize my debts and pay them off. We were around $30,000 in debt and now I am around $2,500 in debt and our house and cars are paid off. We have an emergency fund and a savings account. We will be debt free by the end of this year. We are working on our goal which is to save to buy some land and a new house.

Judy P. – I learned poverty is more than lack of resources, it can be a state of mind too. A poverty mentality will keep you stuck even with sufficient resources. Greatly changed my perception.

Mary H. – Bridges taught me that it is ok to plan ahead, to write down your dreams, and aim high. Bridges helped me build the courage to be more by breaking down the impossible into easy steps. Bridges also taught me that poverty was not all my fault, and made me aware that there are ways to get ahead of the system and break free from habits and hold ups, both personal and community wise.

Ana J. – When I took the class it helped me identify my problem areas in my life and that, yes, sometimes family is toxic and it’s ok to stay away for a while. It’s has also helped me understand my finances and how to have an upper hand on them. It has also helped me now that I have my nieces and I’m putting into practice what I’ve learned on how to give a child options and explain the why so that they feel like they have some control. I have caught myself thanking GOD so many times for allowing me to be apart of this great program. Because He knew I needed it then, now and would be needing it in the future, I’m forever grateful.

Misty P. – It has helped me learn to save. Before I took these classes I would go to the food pantries, I know longer do that, and I am about to graduate college!

Anonymous – This pandemic has forced people to be uncomfortable, with job insecurity, mental health, and family function too. The racial injustice and the lack of resources don’t scare me, this has been my life. I feel comfortable in the instability, actually I have learned to thrive in it and make decisions that create stability for my family thanks to my Bridges classes.

Brandyann B.- My money was in savings when the pandemic hit. Bills were caught up or had credits in the account. NO CREDIT CARD DEBT AND CAR PAID FOR. It was also easy to switch into “no spend” mode since I was taught how to do it in Money Matters 101.

Keli M. – I had 22 credit cards when I started Bridges, now I have one, now I tell my money what to do. I was eating at home so there was no need to go out when Covid started. I also had a fully stocked kitchen so I wasn’t affected by all the panic buying. I was able to help bail out some younger family members who were not so fortunate, three years ago, that would not even be a considerable option. I tell many people that FPU has changed my life and I mean every word of it.

Trena – I learned how to steer clear of financal predators and save. I now know my rights and ask questions.