Work of heart

Bridges

Posted: Monday, February 20, 2006

Work of Heart is a column devoted to spotlighting certain nonprofit organizations, the heart of area communities.

They just wanted to make quilts for people in need. The Funny River Quilters were making quilts for newborn babies, victims of burned homes and for food baskets.

Fulfilling the need for quilts was becoming expensive so the group had to find a way to raise funds to purchase materials required for quilt making. They wanted to have a quilt raffle but that required a gaming permit. That is when they turned to Bridges Community Resource Network. The quilters were able to use Bridges’ gaming permit for their raffle.

What is Bridges ? In 1993 a group of concerned citizens organized Bridges and in December opened the door to the central peninsula community. Bridges helps area individuals and groups get started as nonprofit organizations without the expense of starting from scratch.

Bridges is qualified to support grant applications and administer grants. Additionally, it files the extensive reports required from nonprofits by the state of Alaska and Internal Revenue Service. It is incorporated in the state of Alaska, has a business license and files a biennial Charitable Organization Registration.

Bridges has 501(c)(3) status, making donations tax-deductible. It makes available to qualified organizations its nonprofit mailing permit, its Alaska gaming raffle permit, and its borough nonprofit sales tax exemption.

It also shares with those nonprofits under their umbrella a computer, photocopier, post office box, bank accounts, withholding deposit accounts, insurance, credit card account, a bookkeeper, and free program and fundraiser publicity through the Web site and quarterly newsletter.

This means that a budding nonprofit can immediately begin raising money for its cause, rather than start-up costs. There are currently many nonprofit organizations under the Bridges umbrella, including Funny River Quilters, Healthy Communities/Healthy People, and Bob Summer Cancer Support Fund, to name a few.

Nonprofits that originally began under Bridges and are now on their own include After the Bell and Central Peninsula Health Centers- Cottonwood-Health Center and Aspen Dental Center.

Bridges has a small conference room available for use for a small fee. A variety of organizations meet for general use, board of directors meetings and hold workshops.

Funding for Bridges is by donations, space rental, grant fees and member dues. Dues are $25 per year (tax deductible), which includes a monthly newsletter. It is open to the public. There are currently 80 members.

A local volunteer board governs Bridges. Board members are: Jane Stein, Betty Harris, Annette Hakkinen, Kathy Gensel, Joan Crow-Epps, Judy Keck-Walsh, Stan Steadman, Vivian Swanson and Linda Tannehill. Helen Theriault is a board member and volunteer office coordinator. There is no paid employee at Bridges.

A favorite success story at Bridges is when, at a meeting of Healthy Communities/Healthy People, school nurses expressed concern regarding the dental needs of students.

This caused the group to look at grants that would assist it in doing surveys to find out who those in need were and if something could be done to address the issue. The state Department of Human and Social Services had a grant available and worked with Bridges.

Later, the state became aware of a federal grant that had money to address the need. Within months Bridges received the grant and now there are two health centers, one primary care and one dental, to meet these needs locally.

Bridges is at 44758 Sterling Highway, Soldotna. For more information on it or its services visit www.bridgesnetwork.org or call 260-3800.

This column is sponsored by Bridges Community Network and is written by Linda Tannehill, Bridges board member and Cooperative Extension home economist.



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