Guest Post from a Bridge Supporter

April 22nd, 2013

The following message was created by a friend of The Bridge in response to news of our great financial need. Please feel free to act on his suggestion of sharing it with your friends–Facebook and otherwise!

Take a moment to read this and give it some thought, as it will make a real impact in our community. We have a great opportunity to assist our neighbors who are in need. The Bridge is a nonprofit organization in St. Louis which provides sanctuary, meals and support services for homeless and at-risk men, women, and children in the region. Since 2006, it has served hundreds of thousands of meals to those in need. Its 750,000-th meal was served in July, 2012, as recognized by NPR, Providing day shelter and 3000 meals to displaced and hungry people is no small task. It takes effort and it takes money. Here is where YOU can assist in this worthy cause. But, to maximize your impact, action needs to occur NOW through April 30.
The Feinstein Foundation, a national nonprofit with a goal to eradicate hunger,, will make a donation to the Bridge based upon a comparison of donations received by participating hunger-fighting organizations. Between now and April 30, 2013, all donations of food and money given to The Bridge toward the Feinstein Challenge will be tallied, and the total value sent to the Feinstein Foundation. Totals from all participating hunger-fighting organizations will be compared, determining the percentage of $1 million that the Bridge will receive. Simply put, the more the Bridge receives from donors in this period, the greater the Bridge’s share of $1 million. Please take the Challenge!
The Bridge is a 501(c)(3) organization, and you can deduct this to the extent your personal tax situation permits.
You can make a donation ONLINE at /.
You can make a donation by CHECK, make it payable to The Bridge, with Feinstein Challenge in the memo line, to The Bridge, 1610 Olive Street St. Louis, Missouri 63103.
You can make a donation of FOOD to The Bridge, 1610 Olive Street St. Louis, Missouri 63103, which is located in Centenary United Methodist Church, two blocks west of the downtown library. Its hours are 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Friday.
For more information feel free to call (314) 421-3136.
We are all pulled in many directions, with time and financial resources. I know everyone is inundated with similar requests. This program, however, is essential to our community, in my estimation, and I hope that you consider making a tax-deductible donation. Furthermore, this is a great opportunity to leverage your charitable giving.
Feel free to copy and repost this information if you are inclined.
Regardless, thank you!

Feinstein Challenge Runs Through April 30

March 12th, 2013

Each year, philanthropist Alan Shawn Feinstein sets aside $1 million to be distributed among hunger-fighting organizations.  The total value of all  donations of funds and food received toward the Challenge, which runs from March 1 to April 30, is submitted to the Feinstein Foundation.  The totals from participating agencies are compared, and each receives a proportionate share of the million dollars.  Simply put, the more donations The Bridge receives during the two-month time period, the greater our share of the million dollars!

It’s always a great time to donate to The Bridge.  We currently serve 3000+ meals each week to people in St. Louis who are homeless and hungry.  We also provide day shelter and supportive social services.  During the Feinstein Challenge, however, your gift goes even further!  A check in any amount is welcome.  Please make it payable to The Bridge, write Feinstein Challenge in the memo line, and mail it to 1610 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO  63103.  (If you choose to donate online, please send an email to [email protected] with your name, check number and amount of your contribution so that it can be credited toward the Challenge.)  If you prefer to donate food, please consider the following items that are currently in short supply in the kitchen:  cooking oils, sugar, coffee creamer, dry beans and canned vegetables, oatmeal, grits and rice.  You may drop these by The Bridge anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and before 2:00 p.m. on Friday.  If you organize a food drive and have more items than you can transport, call Debra at 314-421-3136, ext. 107 and we’ll arrange a pick-up.

Thank you for accepting the Challenge.  There are a lot of hungry people in St. Louis, and we really appreciate your help in providing meals for them.

A Journey of Self-discovery–By Bicycle!

September 7th, 2012

For a lot of people, the quest for identity and self-fulfillment is an inner journey; one undertaken via deep thought and introspection.  For those like Cathie McCormack, however, it’s a real trip!

Three years ago, Cathie, a veteran of the US Army, lost her job.  As a result, she also lost her home and everything she owned.  She was able to find another job in a small town just outside Philadelphia(  “…a good job, with good people.”), but something was missing.  Cathie wasn’t happy.  Athletic in her youth, she was “overweight, unhealthy and unhappy with myself.  I needed a change; something that would help me to uncover who I am and why I’m here.”

Cathie first considered a bicycle trip through Maine.  While researching routes on the internet, she discovered the American Discovery Trail, a coast-to-coast, non-motorized recreational trail that stretches more than 6800 miles across 15 states.  At first, she didn’t mention the idea to anyone; learning about the ADT, thinking about it, returning to the American Discovery Trail website, and thinking about it some more.  Ultimately, she decided to do it!  First up, she needed something on which to take the very few personal possessions with which she would travel.  She and her friend Mike purchased a tiny trailer from an online resource, and then modified it with the addition of the back halves (frames and wheels) of two bicycles.  They made sure that this ”trailer” was no wider that the handlebars of her own bike, ensuring that it would be able to pass through any narrow passages she encountered.  Cathie quit her job, packed her essentials (“I read in a biking magazine what to take [tools, spare parts and a tire repair kit for her bicycle; a few changes of clothes, food and a cooler], and then I doubled up on the socks.”), then caught a ride to  Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware, the eastern terminus of the Trail.

On June 28, Cathie headed west on her “personal journey of discovery.”  She did not bring a cell phone, wanting to maintain the focus on herself and her personal growth without a lot of outside distraction.  She does have a tablet, and occasionally goes online (when a hot spot is available) to check her Facebook page and communicate with those who are following her journey.  The cross-country trek would be a challenge under any circumstances.  How was it during what was the hottest summer on record for many states?  “I did get a heat rash when I first started.  I hadn’t had one of those in years!  I kept the cooler filled with ice and water, and drank probably three to four gallons of water each day when I first started out.”

Cathie doesn’t have a specific time frame in mind, taking each day as it comes; stopping for as little or as long as seems right at the time.  Sometimes, the decision is made for her.  While traveling through West Virginia in the wake of a severe storm, she stopped at a tiny town for something to drink.  While there, some of the local residents asked her where she was headed.  When she replied, they told her she would never make it.  They didn’t mean to be discouraging; they just knew that the gravel road to Dolly Sods Scenic Area was a mess following the great storm.  Cathie’s response?  ”Well, I will–because I have to.”  Abandoning the trail–and her quest–was simply not an option.  Ascent to Dolly Sods, elevation 3955 feet, was, however quite a challenge.  It took Cathie seven hours on a gravel road to cover the same distance that takes about 45 minutes by vehicle.

In spite of the difficulties, Cathie’s journey seems to be paying off.  She has lost weight, and her arthritis “…doesn’t bother me as much; as long as I keep movin.’”  She has enjoyed seeing the country  ”…from a viewpoint other than a car,” and is finding great benefit in having lots of time for personal reflection.  She mentions often the wonderful communities she has encountered along the way, citing the town that allows bikers and hikers on the American Discovery Trail to sleep in their gazebo; the grocery clerk who, when she learned of Cathie’s journey, paid for her groceries (along with another store employee who made her a sandwich to go!); and the policeman who came up behind her, asked where she was going (Cathie:  “California.”  Police officer:   “No, I mean where are you going today?”), then alerted her to an upcoming storm and directed her to a rest area nearby, because he didn’t want her to be out in the bad weather.  Another favorite part of the journey so far was the time two dogs escorted her–one leading the way, the other right behind her–until she reached the edge of their home area.

Cathie stopped in St. Louis on the evening of Wednesday, September 5.  On Thursday morning, she came to The Bridge for breakfast.  (She also had the opportunity to shower and received some food for her journey.)  While in St. Louis, she planned to visit the VA hospital to have a prescription refilled, and then she’ll head west again.  Her ultimate destination is the western terminus of the ADT, San Francisco, a point she plans to reach sometime next summer.  Her current goal is to cross Kansas before cold weather hits and then, hopefully, get a job somewhere in Colorado for the winter.  When the passes over the mountains reopen in the spring, she’ll be on the trail again.  Asked if she has plans beyond the completion of her journey, Cathie said that she’s going to apply for a job with Google Maps.  “I love maps, and seeing where things are.  I used it (Google Maps) to see the topographical view of places.  I’d like to take photos for Google.”  If that doesn’t happen, she’s thinking of returning to West Virginia to help with a shelter in which she stayed while traveling through.  (Her comment about The Bridge?  “Great job.  You’ve got your hands full.”)

Wherever she ends up, she’ll arrive with a lot of good memories about her cross-country journey of discovery.  Summing it up, she says:  “All you hear about is the bad, but there’s a lot of good out there.  There are so many angels on earth.  You just don’t know until you run into them–or they find you.”  Godspeed, Cathie.  May you encounter many more angels on your way.     cheap Diflucan

Guest Post

August 31st, 2012

Today’s post is a version of an email message received from a wonderful supporter of The Bridge in response to a Facebook alert about serious shortages in our kitchen.  I couldn’t have said it better, myself; so I didn’t even try.  By the way, if you’d like to make a donation, all you have to do is click on the DONATE NOW button at the top of this page.  Thanks for the food, and for the suggestion, A.!


Bridge Friends,

We were very distressed when our  friend sent out an appeal notifying us that your pantry levels were once again running low.  With this summer’s drought we know that food prices will only continue to rise for a while.

Suggestion:  On upcoming appeals, please place a link to your PayPal donation page.  I shared your appeal on my FB page, with a link to the PayPal page, and thus far two of my friends have made donations.  It’s just a thought.

Nonetheless, we are willing to help.

As Fate would have it, we were all supposed to go away this weekend, but Hurricane Isaac changed our plans.  Rather than pout about it, we’ve decided to use some of that money toward helping fill your pantries.  I will be dropping by the following items on the way to work tomorrow:

  • Five      (#10) cans of pineapple
  • Five      (#10) cans of whole tomatoes
  • Five      (#10) cans of green beans
  • Five      (#10) cans of corn
  • One      (#10) can of mandarin oranges
  • A      25 pound bag of white rice

Make no mistake!  We are NOT rich people; but, we know how blessed we are because all of us have jobs. And because we live a very simple life, we have the ability to help your guests.  You have our assurance that we will continue to help as long as God continues to bless us.  The only suggestion we have is that in future appeals, you offer a link to your PayPal donation page, to ensure you capture as many $5 and $10 donations as you can.  If everyone gave even a small amount, we could go a long way in eliminating hunger.  Once again, I’m preaching to the converted.



Why “10″ is Best

August 28th, 2012

“She’s/he’s/it’s a 10!” You’ve probably heard this said many times. Typically, it refers to someone or something being great, wonderful, better than the rest, as good as it’s possible to be. When I used 10 in my most recent posts to The Bridge Facebook and Twitter pages, however, I was referring to commercial size #10 cans (available at Sam’s Club and other bulk retailers). Are they greater, more wonderful and better than the smaller, family size cans you find in your local grocery store? Not necessarily–unless you serve hundreds of people at each meal and thousands of guests per week, which the kitchen at The Bridge does! When I ask for the large size cans, it’s in the interest of efficiency. In the time it takes to open the many regular cans necessary for just one meal at The Bridge, a handful of #10 cans can be opened and their contents set to simmering!
For The Bridge, that’s why 10 is best.
Oh, by the way, the kitchen is really low on canned vegetables; so if you happen to be shopping at a location that offers #10 cans, and would like to pick up a few green beans, corn, peas, etc., we’d really appreciate them! Thanks so much. Prednisolone 40mg

A Very Good Day

August 24th, 2012

Today’s blessings:

  • The Department of Corrections donated 1,500 pounds (fifteen hundred pounds!) of fresh produce to The Bridge; peaches, okra, cantaloupe and more.  Thanks to the DOC for helping us to provide fresh, healthy food to our guests.
  • Sara, The Bridge Volunteer Coordinator, is talking with Stealth Creative about The Bridge being the host site for the firm’s monthly “give back” event in September.  Go, Sara!
  • I just spoke with a member of the University City Women’s Chorale.  They present concerts targeted at increasing awareness of various organizations.  In November, in keeping with the theme of Fall Harvest/Thanksgiving, they’re focusing on hunger and homelessness, and they’d like to highlight The Bridge.  What a wonderful way to share information about our mission and what we do!

Have a good weekend, everyone—


Where do you go? To whom do you turn?

July 5th, 2012

Yesterday, July 4th, I put out a large piece of butcher paper on a table in the dining room, and guests were invited to contribute drawings or comments, or to just sign their names. During this time, three young children came to the table to add to the design of the banner. These children were lovely; friendly, polite and very well-behaved. After lunch, we played Bingo in the dining room until closing time. The same three children were there. Two of them helped me to distribute playing pieces, and then sat down to play. Afterwards, their mother–who was with them the whole time–thanked me for allowing them to help. I commented on how well-behaved and polite her children were and then, because I didn’t recognize her, asked if she had been at The Bridge before. “No,” she replied. “This is new to us.” The this to which she was referring was the state of homelessness; a young mom and three young children (who looked to be about ages 9, 6 and 3) homeless… in 100+-degree weather… on a holiday. It broke my heart.
It’s not that it isn’t heartbreaking that anyone is homeless, because it is. It’s just that being newly homeless means that you don’t know where to go or who to ask for help. The woman appeared calm, but I can only imagine that she must have been hiding great anxiety. What would I, would any of us, do if we found ourselves suddenly and unexpectedly homeless with our children? I come here every day–and I never get used to this tragedy.
I spoke to our social worker (who had been working with a couple of youth who had gotten stranded in St. Louis) about the situation. Unfortunately, she told me that all the shelters in St. Louis are full. ALL THE SHELTERS ARE FULL. That’s more information that it’s hard for me to process–and accept. How can there be no place for people to go when they’re in need? What can you do when the emergency locations can’t help you in your time of emergency? What is going to happen to this mother and her children?
I’m asking a lot of questions; questions to which I don’t have answers. I’m not a politician, so I can’t pass legislation on behalf of those who need help. I don’t have a lot of money, so I can’t establish a Ronald McDonald-like home for people who are in crisis. I’m not even a social worker, so I don’t have a working knowledge of what to do in cases like this. But I was blessed with loving parents who always looked after my siblings and me, and who were able to provide us with a safe, happy home. There are many children in my life, and they are so precious to me. The economy is still rather fragile, and their parents’ jobs are no more guaranteed than anyone’s; but thanks to their extended families, I don’t imagine that any of them will find themselves without a place to live. It just isn’t right for people to be homeless. Intellectually, I knew this before yesterday, of course. But there was just something about that mother’s words yesterday that struck me–and have stayed with me. By the time she returns to The Bridge, I hope a spot in a family shelter will have opened up so that this family will have a safe place to stay while their situation–whatever it is–gets sorted out and they can get into a home of their own. In the meantime, I shall pray for them. I hope you’ll join me in this prayer for a young mother and her three children–and for everyone everywhere who is currently living life without a place to call home.

The Value of Generosity

June 22nd, 2012

This evening, The Bridge is hosting an appreciation dinner for donors. Chef Al, Prentice and the kitchen crew are preparing a wonderful meal. L’Ecole Culinaire extern Jackie created beautiful, eye-catching arrangements of fruits and flowers to grace the serving tables; and Patrick, as usual, exercised his flair for decorating to pull everything together to change the multi-purpose room at CUMC into an oasis of fine dining. It will be great–but it won’t really be able to convey the value of our donors and their gifts.

Thanks to our donors (and our volunteers, who will be officially acclaimed at next week’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner), services at The Bridge have grown from a meals program to include restrooms and showers for our guests; US Mail and telephone service; and computers with internet access so that people can look for jobs, housing and programs and services for which they may qualify.

Through partnership with other agencies in the City’s Continuum of Care, guests receive nursing care from Grace Hill; HIV testing and education from St. Louis Effort for AIDS; help getting new and replacement IDs; and assistance navigating the VA.

The Family Room provides a place exclusively for families with young children. Our staff social worker helps guests navigate their road to self-sufficiency, and our resident OT works with them to build skills that will help them to maintain their independence.

When Ms. Gladys runs out of breakfast meats, she knows that she can count on JV to show up with bacon and sausage. When we need hygiene items for the guest pantry, JB comes through with boxes of soap, shampoo, lotion, etc. When the Event Coordinator is wondering how to provide Christmas presents for the little ones who may not otherwise have any, GK calls to ask what is needed to make the holidays good for our guests.

Big and (seemingly) small, the gifts given by donors to The Bridge are great blessings–as are the donors, themselves. If you’re joining us for dinner this evening, we hope you have a wonderful time. If you can’t make it, please know that you are greatly appreciated–for helping us to do what we do, and, most importantly, for the difference your support makes in the lives of the guests we serve. THANK YOU.

More Than We Can Imagine

June 4th, 2012

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.

In Memory of Johnny Lee Purcell

May 31st, 2012

In this week of many blessings, there has been sorrow, too. On Wednesday, our social worker received a phone call from the Medical Examiner’s Office saying that a Johnny Lee Purcell had died over the weekend, and listed our address. He had no family contacts listed. This loss is compounded by the fact that, in spite of having proper identification, Johnny Lee was still relatively anonymous; “…a Johnny Lee Purcell,” as if to say, one of many Johnny Lees—but not one known to us. The address he listed is that of a day shelter in a local church. While it’s true that the staff at The Bridge work to supply the everyday needs of those who are currently homeless, it isn’t “home,” and it isn’t meant to be. It’s our ultimate goal to help our guests secure independence and to get a home of their own. Though we’re glad that we could help and support you, Johnny, we’re sorry that The Bridge was the only place you had to call home. “He had no family contacts listed.” This, perhaps, is the true tragedy of Johnny’s life; that when it ended, there was no record of anyone that he believed would care enough to want to be notified of his death. All that we know of Johnny Lee Purcell comes from Peter, our front desk volunteer, who said: “He was a young man, probably in his thirties. We didn’t really talk much, but when he came in for his mail, we did exchange pleasantries.” Goodbye, Johnny Lee Purcell. Our prayer is that your passing was peaceful and that you’re now at rest—and, finally, home.