2018 Bridging Report to the Community

05/31/2019 by Rebecca Toews

Dear Friends,

I am honored to share a glimpse of the wonderful year of service and impact that Bridging made in 2018. We served 12,844 people who, because of your investment in our important work, had their homes furnished with hope. We are now partnering with more than 170 agencies in the community who refer clients for services.

Our revenue exceeded budget and expenses were prudently managed under budget. We achieved the top ranking in all three charity accountability evaluators: Charity Navigator, GuideStar and Charities Review Council.

Founder Fran is healthy, vibrant and a continued source of inspiration to us all as he joins us daily in fulfilling our mission.

At Bridging, we say that we are simply one stop on a person’s journey.

In my role, I am privy to the many stories that accompany all those who are brought together at Bridging. As we journey together to improve our community, we all have an important story to share. We have highlighted just a few of these stories for you in our annual Report to the Community.

As we move into 2019, we continue to focus on serving with dignity and respect. With your amazing support and partnership, we will be here for those who come to Bridging and assist them as they move forward on their journey. Thank you for all you do and for being such an important part of those journeys and those stories.

With sincere gratitude,

Mark Wilkening

Executive Director

View The Report:


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Volunteer Spotlight

Serving the Bridging mission would be impossible without the dedication and enthusiasm of volunteers.

In 2018, 4,376 volunteers donated 75,698 hours to serve people in need. The generosity of individual and group volunteers is truly inspiring and their efforts are truly appreciated.

Bridging volunteers of all ages enrich our programs, bring us together as a community and help our organization thrive.

Volunteers are integral to day-to-day operations and our ability to serve nearly 13,000 people a year; 765 individuals donated 83% of ALL volunteer hours in 2018. When surveyed, 84% of volunteers reported that their experience was “Excellent.” They had much more to share as well!

Read a few quotes from our annual volunteer survey:

“This is a joyful and uplifting place to volunteer… The focus on client dignity is so appropriate.”

“I enjoy being able to volunteer for an organization that believes in helping people from all walks of life and backgrounds and truly believes in making this world a better place.”

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Partner Spotlight

“Over the years, Donaldson Company has been one of Bridging’s staunchest supporters to help us in so many different ways.… It just blows me away!”
~ Founder Fran

Fran Heitzman would tell you that it all started with the ‘spoon story.’

At one of Bridging’s earliest galas, Fran told the story of a little girl who was shopping with her mother. When she got to the silverware section, she looked at her mother and exclaimed, “Just think Mom, now we don’t have to share spoons when we eat!”

That simple story inspired past Donaldson Company CEO, Bill Cook, to take action. Current CEO, Tod Carpenter, has continued to cultivate this relationship and build upon our rich history.

When Fran and the team call on Donaldson Company for their support, they deliver above and beyond all expectations! Their level of commitment is a shining example to all partner organizations.

How does Donaldson Company support Bridging? Let us count the ways!

  • Employee volunteerism
  • Enthusiastic Bedrace for Bridging participation and fundraising
  • Annual Essentials Drive
  • Annual donation of event and marketing materials
  • Annual Gala sponsorship participation and 2018 Gala Presenting Sponsor

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The Lives We Touch

Brad’s Story

Brad R. grew up in Fridley, MN and graduated from the University of Minnesota.

After spending 35 years in the financial services sector, he says his life took a turn and he wound up serving a 60-month sentence with the MN Department of Corrections.

“When I was released, I was able to start off on the right foot because I was able to use my time to better myself, but I still left prison with nothing. I didn’t want to have people come visit me, I didn’t want to be at home. Bridging helped give me the peace of mind to be able to entertain people again!”

From client, to Bridging staff member, Brad’s life is now one of service. While transitioning from prison back into the community, he has helped countless individuals navigate the system and help them start their lives fresh.

He has become familiar with the processes, how to connect people to housing and employment, and help them receive mentorship and support from the resources available to them.

Brad’s story is unique, but it is not isolated, he says.

“Anyone can have their life fall apart; I want to be there to help people put things back together.”

Read More Lives We Touch


The Agency Experience

In 2018, Bridging reached out into the community, working to bring in more clients who are in need of essential furniture and housewares. By expanding our agency network, we hope to reach unmet needs.

Through innovative partnerships, a reduction in fees and increased awareness of how Bridging lifts a burden for households, we have been able to grow our network of agencies to more than 170. These nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups and county human services programs are committed to helping us serve people who are in need. Bridging is one critical stop on a client’s path to healthy, stable and safe living.

One growing partnership is with Red Lake Nation Family and Children Services. The organization has been instrumental in helping us connect and serve the essential needs of people impacted by the opioid crisis in rural Minnesota, as well as those who had been residing in the “Wall of Forgotten Natives” camp near Hiawatha and Cedar Avenues in Minneapolis. After finding safe, reliable housing, Bridging steps in with support for furniture and household items.

“Having a sense of SOME control in my life is vital to mental health. Bridging helps do this,” said one client who responded to our survey after their shopping appointment.

Bridging continues to seek out these unique partnerships and offer solutions to organizations that work with limited funding.

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