Elisabeth Jackson, Executive Director of Bridge Over Troubled Waters, spoke with over 40 SheGives members and their guests on Monday night about the life-changing services that Bridge provides. Bridge, a new non-profit on the SheGives slate for this year, serves 3,000 homeless young people each year. They offer a free mobile medical van, transitional housing, a winter shelter, and many other services for homeless youth in the Greater Boston Area.
Jackson began our discussion with the stories of June and Arlene. They were only two of the many homeless youths in Boston, but when they came to Bridge they were treated as unique individuals. Their program is “Very individual,” says Jackson. “We don’t have to cookie-cut them.” She emphasized the important connections that the adults at Bridge make with the kids to help them transition into independent living, with a particular stress on learning life skills.
For Jackson, a vital part of the operation is their youth shelter that is open from November to April. Adult shelters can be dangerous, she says, for young people, so it is important that they have a safe place to go. “The first thing I want to do is keep you safe,” says Jackson. 135 youths used the shelter last year, and, when asked what she would do for her organization if she had more funds, she did not hesitate: “more beds.” The shelter was a lifesaver for those youths who needed a warm bed during last year’s brutal winter.
The most visible service that Bridge provides is the mobile medical van that you may have seen in the Boston area. You can read more about the van here.
Jackson left us with the most important lesson that they teach the kids they serve: self-worth. Bridge Over Troubled Waters strives to help give homeless youths the ability to take good care of themselves, and puts no other priority before the kids. “We’re not tied to the child welfare system,” says Jackson, “we’re not tied to the court system, we’re not tied to anyone but our individual donors that support us and want us to make sure each kid gets the individual attention they need.”
Check out even more photos from the evening by scrolling through the gallery below.
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All photos courtesy of SLY Photography
You can also learn more about BOTW at their web site.