Building Bridges taking applicants

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


The Fellowship Cup is hosting its second Building Bridges out of Poverty class beginning Monday, Sept. 10, and adding an additional class in Wayland thanks to the leadership of Word of Life Christian Ministries.

Building Bridges is a community support program that provides students with concepts, workshops and products to help individuals address and reduce poverty in their own lives and in their community. The first Building Bridges class in Henry County graduated eight students, called Investigators, from the Fellowship Cup on April 9.

?It?s gone above and beyond what I thought, especially with this first class and how active more than half the class has been in getting the next class going,? said Ken Brown, director of the Fellowship Cup.

?What we hope is we shift our focus from treating the symptoms (of poverty) to being a place to build resources to rise above the need for our services,? Brown continued. ?Now that we have a proven program that directs people in doing that, a lot of our time and energy can be put into that.?

The class meets every Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. for 18 weeks. Incentives to attend include a free meal, child care, transportation to and from the class and a $20 stipend received at the end of each class.

While there are only 12 spots available per class, Brown said interested prospective students can be placed on a waiting list. There are no requirements to be able to apply for the class other than a desire to want to change and a commitment to the 18 weeks, Brown said.

?We know there are a number of individuals and families who struggle with poverty for various reasons,? said Ryan Dexter, director of Word of Life Christian Ministries in Wayland. ?Our intent is to help them experience and discover the resources and tools to identify where they?re at and how they can move ahead to a more prosperous way of living for themselves and their family.?

Dexter hopes through Building Bridges, people can break out of the bondage of poverty and get a hand up rather than a hand out.

In Wayland, Dexter will be joined by two facilitators who were graduates of the Building Bridges class in April.

One of leaders was living out of her car, technically homeless, when she arrived at that first Building Bridges class. On day one, one of her peers offered her a space to stay. ?Today, she has her own place, a job and it has impressed her so much she wants to turn around and help others experience the same kind of success stories,? Dexter said.

The other Building Bridges facilitator in Wayland, also a graduate from Building Bridges in April, was exiting a difficult marriage when she began her Building Bridges journey. Now, she also says she has changed and wants to share that experience with others.

Stories don?t have to be as radical as going from homeless to homeowner for someone to join a Building Bridges class, Dexter said, encouraging anyone who feels like they are living in ?survival mode? or paycheck to paycheck to inquire about Building Bridges.

As the class continues to grow throughout Henry County and graduate more Investigators, Brown said he hopes to see a change in each community.

?It can affect on so many different levels through education, jobs and lowering the crime rate,? Brown said. ?Just to have more productive citizens will help enhance the community.?

The class will have laughter, some tears and a lot of encouragement, Brown promised. The ups and downs, Investigators will go through together and know they are not alone.

Applications for the program are being accepted through Friday, Sept. 7. For more information regarding the Mt. Pleasant or Wayland Building Bridges class, contact the Fellowship Cup at 319-385-3242 or