Hope Bridges Society

Our Impact

Our impact is based on the personal, spiritual and creative growth of the people who take part in or attend our projects, workshops or events. Here are some of the stories of those who have benefited from Hope Bridges.

 Newer stories can be found on our blog here

 

Confidence for Curtis by Wanda Reinholdt

Winter 2015 launches Hope Bridges’ third year doing regular programming.  Since the beginning, they have had a very fun and engaging adult workshop called “Go Green Upcycling” which encourages participants to take something that could be recycled or thrown away and turn it into something that is useful and beautiful.  Pieces like a large mural called “Flight” made out of plastic gift cards mounted on an old doorframe, and the bench called “Belong”, a pew made into a beautiful community bench for the library, are now adorning the community of Strathmore.  In addition, many participants’ homes are blessed with pieces that they have made.

One of the participants in this Upcycling workshop is Curtis.  Curtis is a young man who has been coming to Hope Bridges workshops and events regularly for the past year.  He attends with a job coach from the AIM Society who gives him the support he needs to walk safely and also help him handle any details.  Curtis loves meeting with his friends at Upcycling and enjoys sharing his love for colour, shapes, and music.

Curtis began his journey creating at Upcycling with some nervousness and doubt about his ability to do this well.  In particular, he was concerned that the choices he was making would work and that they would look good.  Each time he was creating, he would ask Facilitator, Trish, and Creative Support, Heather, if what he was doing was ok.  They would simply encourage him in his exploration and help him feel at ease with his choices.  Recently, Trish reported that she realized that Curtis is no longer questioning his choices.  In fact, he seems to be confidently making decisions about what he is going to choose to do and is enjoying sharing what he has done with others.

 

Hope Bridges at Canada Day in Kinsmen Park by Pat Timmermans

Strathmore residents enjoy a celebration and Canada Day in Kinsmen Park is no exception! Along with local charities, groups and businesses, Hope Bridges was invited to represent their involvement in the community at Kinsmen Park. After some careful thought about how to show what Hope Bridges is about, Coordinator Wanda, Creative Support, Heather and Go Green Upcycling Workshop Facilitator Trisha decided to let the adults paint on the back of recycled wallpaper. This painting ‘class’ in the park wasn’t about brushes and canvas.  Passers by would be recruited to kick off their shoes and paint with their feet!

The first few onlookers were sceptical, some avoided eye contact, but when a few courageous individuals took off their shoes, others stopped to watch. The Hope Bridges Society serves adults of the community, which meant no pushing their kids into the spotlight for this activity! A few adult-sized feet stepped into mainly red paint, the color of Canada Day, then onto the canvas. An eclectic collage of footprints created by community feet was the result and today it hangs on the wall at FCSS.

To those who created it, like Joanne, seeing the collage is a permanent reminder of a pleasant Canada Day in the park with her grandchildren; and questions about this unique piece generally start the conversation of what it means to sign up for a workshop. The painters were inspired and others were excited to hear that Hope Bridges is here for all adults of Strathmore and Wheatland County who wish to become involved.

 

‘Artists Among Us’ Gala by Pat Timmermans

October 23, 2014 marked the 9th annual Hope Bridges ‘Artists Among Us’ Gala in Strathmore Alberta. The Gala is an evening of musical presentations and a Gallery display that highlights art created by our members and up-and-coming artists within the community.

Rachel along with her musical coach and companion Lisa, are among the regular Gala performers. As they take their place on stage, all who’ve heard the duo know that those who haven’t are about to be inspired. A standing ovation follows; it’s Rachel’s courage and Lisa’s support that inspires, even motivates others to become involved.

As stories of ‘Artists Among Us’ spread throughout the community, the numbers in attendance increase each year. The stirring performances and message of inclusivity that Hope Bridges conveys through the production allows artists and audience members alike to experience what a non-judgmental community would feel like. Word-of-mouth has a far-reaching effect and at the recent event, the Hope Community Church where the Gala is held was standing room only, and guests from out of province were in attendance.

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Jodyne

Imagine living in a community without having any real or personal connections. Certainly there’s the brief ‘hello’ across the fence to a neighbor, or a casual exchange of formalities with other ‘regulars’ at the grocery store. For many individuals there is nothing more, no friendships, only acquaintances, and no true feelings of belonging.

This described Strathmore resident Jodyne to a tee, but after seven years she decided to change things. She realized that if she wanted more than a few casual acquaintances, she would need to take the first steps, and that would mean getting involved. Jodyne mustered the courage and stepped outside her comfort zone. She found a job at a local retail store, involved herself in community sports and felt determined to find out where those first steps would take her.

Opportunities began to unfold and Jodyne became interested in caregiving for young women of the community, with special needs. A couple of the ladies closest to her introduced Jodyne to Hope Bridges Society. At Hope, people connect with each other through music and art, and Jodyne was about to find what she had been missing for too long.

Jodyne discovered her own inner artist in ‘upcycling classes’ alongside the friends that introduced her to the fascinating craft. She has found common bonds with other caregivers that share her interest in people and in art; and she’s surprised at how comfortable she feels about the artistic experience. But the icing on the cake, Jodyne has developed meaningful relationships that she would not have known had she not taken that step toward getting involved with her community.

Rhonda
Rhonda moved to the Strathmore region recently. Another friend of Hope Bridges told her about our programming and so she and her friend, Janine, came to check it out. She is so very glad that she did. Rhonda and Janine say that Hope Bridges has filled a void in their lives and has helped them connect to others in the community.
Adam
Adam came to Upcycling after being asked to cover the story about the workshop for the local paper. To his delight, as he participated, he found he relaxed and had a lot of fun creating a candle-holder out of an empty bottle. Adam says Upcycling got him thinking as to “why he doesn’t take time out of a busy schedule to just lose himself in a fun activity more often?”.
Sheila
Sheila loves music – especially the drumming program. When her family and friends mention to her that she is going to drumming, she lights up! This picture of herself and her friend, Sharon, made her smile. Drumming is a therapy that works for her.
Andrea Curry CMT, MTA
Andrea is so excited to be the facilitator for Sing Your High Notes. She says most individuals who attend the workshop leave smiling and feeling connected to those in the room. This workshop brings together a diverse group of people who have never met to learn and grow with each other. Each member participates in music they may not be familiar with because another group member chose it. Andrea observes that some participants who are not known to sing or engage in general, yet some individuals take on leadership roles. This class helps friendships form. Singing together is a beautiful thing!

 

To see pictures of your friends and neighbours in Hope Bridges classes visit our Flickr page.