Bridges Outreach, Inc.
1. Agency Description:
Since 1988, Bridges has reached out to the homeless and the near homeless in New York City, Newark and Irvington every week. Volunteers are an integral part of Bridges. Last year, more than 1,500 volunteers joined us on 221 outreach visits (referred to as a “Run”), which was a 5% increase over the previous year. Bridges made 75 Runs to New York City; 96 to Newark; and 50 to Irvington. Nearly 100,000 brown bag meals were delivered, in addition to 9,000 toiletry kits, 13,000 pairs of new socks, and 1,500 gallons of soup, hot chocolate and lemonade. The Bridges’ Run is at the core of our programs. On a typical street Run, our truck is loaded with food, soup, new underwear, socks, shoes, additional clothing, toiletries and other items, donated or purchased by Bridges. At the Run site, volunteers distribute goods with compassion and respect.
2. Program Description:
Engage: Bridges creates opportunities for volunteers to meet and interact with homeless individuals. The interaction between a volunteer and a homeless individual is frequently a life changing experience for both people. For our corporate volunteers, it is a chance to see the impact of their volunteer service. Our suburban high school volunteers have a chance to reach out of their comfort zone and learn the realities of life. For our homeless friends, a Run is a chance for them to see that people still care about them and reminds them that they have not been forgotten. Every Run is supervised by at least one Bridges’ Run Coordinator who oversees all aspects of the Run. Volunteers are scheduled and trained in advance by a part-time Volunteer Coordinator.
Duration: Bridges is now in its 25th year of reaching out to homeless lower Manhattan. In 25 years, Bridges has never missed a Friday Run to New York. In addition to the Friday night outreach, Bridges is on the streets at least once, mid-week, throughout the winter.
Target Population: Our goal is to aid the most vulnerable street homeless. At Battery Park, we meet about 70 to 100 people, predominately homeless men and some women, the majority of whom are chronically homeless. We often see smaller groups at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal or on various corners. Near the Brooklyn Bridge, we see about 60 people many of whom are living in unstable living situations.
Geographic Area Served. Our regular stops are Battery Park and one at the Brooklyn Bridge, although we stop at several smaller corners along the way. Bridges also serves homeless communities in Newark and Irvington, NJ.