Most days, the staff at The Bridge deals with the ongoing challenges faced by those who are currently homeless; feeding those who are hungry, referring to local shelters those with no place to spend the night, and helping obtain transportation those who have become stranded away from their families. Some days, though, the challenges faced by those who come to us for help far exceed even the need for food, shelter and family. Such was the case with Shelly.
When Shelly came to The Bridge, she was looking for help dealing with the traumatic aftermath of being kidnapped and assaulted. Kidnapped and assaulted. The stuff of made-for-TV movies; not the sort of thing that happens to people you meet–except it does. The Bridge social worker, who would normally meet with a guest in crisis, was out of the building when Shelly arrived. Fortunately, a member of St. Louis Department of Social Services was at The Bridge that day, and offered to help.
Working with another member of The Bridge staff, Shelly was connected to The YWCA Women’s Resource Center which offers confidential counseling and also coordinates SART (Sexual Assault Response Team). SART consists of a group of volunteers trained to provide crisis intervention to victims. Barbara, at the WRC, located a shelter that provides the kind of program Shelly needed, and that had an opening. Knowing that Shelly’s safety depended on them, two members of The Bridge staff now tackled the task of getting Shelly to the shelter by the daily deadline of 7:00 p.m.
There is one bus that would get her there, via a specific Metrolink station, but there wasn’t enough time to buy the ticket, get her to the station, etc. in time for her to make the connection. At one bus service, there was no answer to the phone call. Another service requires a 24-hour advance reservation. All this time, Shelly sat in an office at the church in which The Bridge is housed in the aftermath of being kidnapped and assaulted. Can you even imagine being at the mercy of others when you are in such a terrified, vulnerable state? I can’t. I don’t know where Shelly’s parents are–of if she even has parents–but if Shelly was my daughter, I would be always grateful that she had found her way to The Bridge, where there were people who would stop at nothing until they knew she was in a safe place.
Finally, The Bridge staff reached a taxi company that would make the trip to the shelter, and that could get Shelly there by 7:00. In the words of Pastor Kathleen, Executive Director of The Bridge, “Another one saved.”
Yes, Pastor Kath, on Thursday, thanks to the work of caring people, the cooperation of partnering agencies and the willingness of one taxi cab company to literally go the extra mile, another one was saved. And that, after all, is why we’re here.