6th Annual Farm to Table – Remarks from Isabel
It is my great pleasure to be here with you – LIVE!
Thank you for joining us virtually. This is kind of fun! Isn’t it?
2020 has certainly been the year of the pivot – and this event is no exception.
A huge thanks goes to Christine. She has worked tirelessly and her team – especially Dan and Scott – have done a masterful job changing course and creating this evening to celebrate impact… online!
Many thanks to Chef John and the CTK team who have stepped up once again with incredible food. Thank you to our volunteers who pulled off the logistical mastery to get many of you dinner this evening.
It is because of you and our community partners that our programs thrive. Tonight’s event is on track to be our most successful yet! Thank you for being part of our solutions.
Last, but not least, I want to speak to our incredible staff – Every day you provide our continuum from the most basic of needs – food and a safe place to be – to our most structured opportunities of jobs and housing – because of you we change lives every day. I want to thank YOU personally and abundantly for all of your hard work. You have not skipped a beat in 2020. We have been open 24/7 despite all odds. Team – you are our frontline heros.
Tonight you have seen a glimpse into the many faces of homelessness. We have said for years that homelessness is a symptom of many things gone wrong. That faces of homelessness are diverse – from the incredible people you have met tonight – Mindy to Arthur, Justin to Darmena, Kurt to Stephan – and many others – you have seen a range of age, race, background and circumstance.
You have also seen a common resolve, a common commitment to seize the opportunities we provide to leave the streets behind. You have seen hope, you have seen humanity, and you have seen potential.
The scope of our challenge is great. Homelessness is at the nexus of many societal failings that are only being more exposed and exacerbated as we battle COVID-19, natural disasters caused by climate change, and racial tensions in our country.
Each of these catastrophes has a human toll, often resulting in the loss of a home, a job, a livelihood, displacement or worse.
Before the Pandemic
550,000 homeless, now estimated to rise by nearly 50% to more than 750,000.
Economic downtown turn as a result of the Pandemic has hit hard and exacerbated unemployment for people experiencing homelessness.
Our programs not only serve people of color and others with barriers such as criminal background but we focus on building their social capital so they may succeed not just with us but in future employment and housing.
Let’s face these realities head on.
2020 remains a year full of challenges – but not despair.
With these challenges we can find clarity in our purpose and translate that into concrete action.
You have heard that Bridge House is unstoppable in our resolve to get this right. We will not be satisfied until we can – for every person and community – have a balanced, right-sized, continuum of basic needs, housing, employment and services to eradicate street homelessness.
Now is the time to act. We have the attention of communities nationwide and here at home. We have not only an opportunity to adapt, expand and innovate, but the imperative to do so.
A cornerstone of our efforts at Bridge House and Ready to Work has been our core belief and founding premise that people experiencing homelessness are no different than you or me and all responses to addressing homelessness should be focused on integrating people back into the mainstream
So what are we, at Bridge House going to do?
First – Jobs – As part of the new landscape and economic recovery efforts, we will continue to work in our current industries while exploring partnerships with industries that are emerging during this unprecedented time to not only pursue training but career oriented jobs. These include health care, green jobs, and more.
Second – Housing – we have demonstrated a unique ability to create new housing stock out of commercial properties. Our Ready to Work House you see tonight was once an office building! Now with office buildings and other commercial properties vacant we hope to share this experience to develop more options along the housing spectrum.
Third – Support – We need to grow the social capital of those we serve. Provide important resources, relationships and access for those who have been disenfranchised. We will do this by leveraging our own resources and by connecting with others. We have also doubled down on our efforts to provide mental health and addiction recovery support as we know rates of addiction are rising with the incredible mental pressures we all face in 2020.
Today, right now – We are pursuing these efforts in the communities we call home – Boulder and Aurora.
We are providing technical assistance to other communities so that they too may enhance their efforts to include a “work-first” solution to homelessness, creative housing models that add to their housing stock. And, importantly, we are sharing our culture that truly prioritizes the health, well-being and humanity of those experiencing homelessness by empowering them through real access, to real opportunity.
We have so much more work to do and so many more lives to touch. In 2020 and beyond Bridge House will build upon our foundation of innovation.
With your support fueling the unflappable, unwavering, herculean resolve of our team we will keep moving forward.
During this pandemic and in the face of the many challenges we face we have one final thing to remember people experiencing homelessness are some of the most resilient, most flexible, most
Let’s follow their example. Let’s get it done.