Feb. 2, 2014 – Since the Christian Assistance Bridge opened on November 11, the new service agency, which provides emergency aid to individuals and families in need, has been serving clients and has received significant support from the community. The agency, at 126 Blythewood Road, is a collaborative effort of Blythewood area churches, individuals and support organizations located.
• Volunteers have handled 99 inquiries and have met with 80 clients since the opening. Food and utilities (electric, water, sewer) have been the source of most assistance provided: 51 clients have received food and 35 received help with utilities. Eleven clients received rent and transportation assistance. As community awareness grows about the agency, organizers expect increased demand for the services and an expansion of the types of assistance and programs offered.
• Cold weather assistance increase – Because of the unusually cold weather this winter, a three-month increase in the amount of utility assistance available to clients was recently approved. The amount was increased to $250 per client.
• Volunteers honored – In January, Christian Assistance Bridge volunteers were invited to an appreciation luncheon with the agency’s board and organizing committee. At the luncheon, volunteers and board members discussed the mission and vision for the Christian Bridge and brainstormed ideas for taking the next steps in growing the organization such as possible new services that can be offered for clients, additional hours of operation and an expanded service area.
• Board of directors elected – A board of directors was recently elected for the Christian Assistance Bridge. Members of the board are President Dennis Brantley, Vice President Bill Sullivan, Treasurer John Covert, Secretary Beth Franco, the Rev. Cathy Jamieson-Ogg, Ken Trogdon, Carol Ward, Michelle Dubard, Sara Bailey and Joy Grainger. Board members represent these Blythewood churches: Bethel Baptist Church, Blythewood Presbyterian, Transfiguration Catholic Church and Trinity United Methodist Church. Two additional board members are yet to be elected.
• Event raises funds for CAB – An Evening at the Farm fundraiser in November raised an estimated $8,500 for the Christian Assistance Bridge, a collaborative effort of Blythewood area churches, individuals and support organizations located at 126 Blythewood Road. Blythewood area residents, pastors and church members, business owners and town government representatives were among the 185 who attended the event at The Farm in Ridgeway. Use of the venue was donated by owner and Blythewood businessman Larry Sharpe.
• May fundraiser planned – A second fundraising event is planned for May 2 at Doko Manor in Blythewood.
• High school students help out – In October, students from Westwood High School worked at the Christian Assistance Bridge for a community service project. Students painted, cleaned and reglazed windows, trimmed shrubs and cleaned mildew on the exterior of the building. The students plan to return for additional work throughout the year. Westwood High also conducted a food drive this winter and donated about 77,000 servings of food for the agency’s food pantry.
The mission of the Christian Assistance Bridge is to provide hope and support to those in need and to reach out to the poor by offering basic necessities and hand-up assistance. The agency offers emergency assistance, such as utilities, rent, food, medication, transportation and traveler’s aid to residents in Blythewood and the surrounding community.
Established as an independent agency in 2013, the Christian Assistance Bridge was previously affiliated with The Cooperative Ministry, with a 10-year history as a satellite office in Blythewood. The office is staffed by volunteers who screen clients and offer budget counseling.
The service area for The Christian Assistance Bridge includes ZIP codes 29016 (Blythewood), 29229 (in northeast Richland County) and 29130 (Ridgeway). Organizers hope to increase types of assistance and service area as more funding is secured through churches, grants and individual donors.
Any individual, church or organization wishing to support the mission of the agency may send contributions to Christian Assistance Bridge, P.O. Box 1026, Blythewood, SC 29016. Christian Assistance Bridge has applied for tax-exempt status as an entity described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Upon approval such exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service, all contributions made to Christian Assistance Bridge since the date of its formation (August 9, 2013) will be tax-deductible.