MISSION: The mission of Bridging the Gap is to help people meet their basic needs and improve their lives by connecting them to community resources and by providing opportunities for meaningful volunteerism and social connection.
VISION: The vision of Bridging the Gap is a community in which everyone is given the opportunity to thrive and live with dignity.
- Dignity: All people have the right to essential dignity.
- Inclusivity: Everyone is welcome and is valuable.
- Love: Loving one another means doing what is in the other’s best interest. Sometimes this means creating limits and saying “no”.
- Empowerment: We encourage interdependence over dependence. In the long run, lending a hand up is more effective than giving a hand out. Although sometimes a person needs a hand out in order to receive a hand up.
- Acceptance: Seeing beyond fear– our own and other’s– is part of a healthy community.
- Safety: A welcoming, safe and inclusive environment is key to our vision and mission.
- Social Connection: Healthy social connection supports growth and change.
- Community Engagement: Being involved in community builds trust and understanding and leads to a more vibrant society.
- Collaboration: Building partnerships and sharing resources generates community growth.
Bridging the Gap (BTG) is a community initiative of The Church at 209 (the combined congregations of St. Mark’s Episcopal and Prince of Peace Lutheran). BTG is not starting something new but rather working towards unifying three existing programs at the administrative and operational levels with the ultimate goal of establishing a year-round community resource center.
Those three services are: The Augusta Community Warming Center, Addie’s Attic Clothing Bank and Everyday Basics Essentials Pantry. Separately, they have reached a significant number of people and have helped make a positive impact on the lives of those experiencing homelessness, joblessness, resettlement, re-entry after imprisonment, food insecurity, addiction and hard times. Together, they will be able to broaden their reach and collaborate more effectively with other community organizations. Coincidentally, these three services have operated out of the same facility for two years and already work with overlapping populations and supporters. The formal unification will result in combined resources, expanded staffing and increased operational efficiency which will lead to stronger programming and ultimately a more pronounced positive impact on those we serve and on the community at large.
While Addie’s Attic and Everyday Basics have been overseen by St. Mark’s and now by the Church at 209 since they were started, the Warming Center is the newcomer. Earlier in 2017, the United Way of Kennebec Valley asked us if we wanted to adopt the Warming Center. We said, “yes!”
Brief Overview of Services Addie’s Attic and Everyday Basics have been overseen by The Church at 209 since they were started in 1998 and 2009, respectively. Addie’s Attic is a free clothing bank run by volunteers from the congregation and the greater community. People are generous in sharing their gently used clothes with the Attic and these are sorted and arranged so that guests (clients) can “shop”.
Everyday Basics is a toiletries and household essentials pantry, providing items such as toilet paper, soap, shampoo and diapers to those in need. It is open twice a month and serves well over 350 individuals each time.
The Augusta Community Warming Center (AWC) was initiated by the United Way of Kennebec Valley (UWKV) in 2009 and has been fostered into a well-recognized seasonal community resource. Historically open 7 days a week from December through March, the AWC works with guests looking to connect with resources such as housing, employment and literacy skills. Guests often arrive at the AWC homeless and staff guide individuals through a resource list of shelters and other housing options, provide winter boots if needed and then address employment and any other guest-driven concerns. Meaningful volunteerism is another cornerstone of the AWC as many of the guests seek opportunities to volunteer which not only builds skills and job readiness but also boosts self-esteem. In addition, guests, staff and volunteers form valuable relationships with one another and together promote an atmosphere of social connection. During the 2016-2017 season there were 3776 guest sign-ins and 3678 recorded volunteer hours.
Who supports the programming? While Bridging the Gap is overseen and administered by the Church at 209, a significant amount of support comes from beyond the congregation. Individuals, businesses and other congregations contribute monetarily and also with their time. Many contributions come via the United Way of Kennebec Valley and next year Bridging the Gap will be able to receive UWKV funding as a partner program. The BTG programs have also received grants from various foundations including the Elsie & William Viles Foundation, Maine Community Foundation and the Unity Foundation. Without all this diverse support, BTG would not be able to serve in the capacity that it does. THANK YOU.
What’s in store? For the remainder of the summer and into the fall, the services overseen by BTG will operate without much visible change and the Warming Center will open per usual in December. At some point we will be leaving the current location (the St. Mark’s Parish Hall) for our “starter home” (TBD). Once we secure that location and move in, any and all changes will be implemented and made known.
The long-term goal of BTG is to transition the Warming Center into a year-round drop-in resource center that does everything the seasonal center did, operates the clothing bank and essentials pantry and is able to connect people with vital resources and volunteer opportunities all year round.
Steering and Advisory Committee Members: Elizabeth Burgess, Pastor Justin Frank, Rebecca Grant, Santa Havener, Pastor Erik Karas, Dan Lau, Deidrah Stanchfield
Project Director: Sarah Miller
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 207-248-1782