SHORT HILLS, NJ - Bridges Outreach has been delivering food and provisions to the working poor and homeless people of New York City, Newark and Irvington for almost 26 years. They are assisted in their mission by over 70 organizations which include schools, houses of worship, clubs and friends and family.
These supporters help to get distributions ready by providing food and supplies, and by participating in runs where donations are handed out. The director of the organization, Lois Bhatt, has been working with Bridges for 11 years. TAP recently sat down with her to find out more about this group’s mission.
Bhatt says she first heard of Bridges when she was working at another organization in Summit. It seemed to have a good reputation in some of the surrounding areas. Board member Victoria Smith is from Short Hills, and has done multiple runs with the organization. She got her start about ten years ago, when she became involved with helping her daughters’ nursery school decorate lunch bags. From there, she started to go on outreach runs. She says that the most wonderful thing to see is when a group of high school kids has gone on a run, and looking at the impact that it has had on them personally.
Bridges works with all religious denominations in Millburn and Short Hills. Two of the many local congregations with which they collaborate are Christ Church and Temple B’nai Jeshrun in Short Hills.
Sarah Rosen of Christ Church said, “It’s not just about handing over food or clothing. It’s about building a connection between the housed and homeless. Our outreach runs give us a chance to know the people we are helping.”
Sarah Silversten of B’nai Jeshrun also agreed, saying, “It is extremely fulfilling to work with Bridges. Our congregation is firmly rooted in the value of Tikkun Olam (Social Justice). We believe it is our responsibility to help those in need.”
And when it comes to the summer time, a little extra help is needed. According to Bhatt, summer is a time when donations drop off, so supplies are especially desirable. During the summer, there is an increase in need for water, as well as sustainable lunches (food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated). And because many of the people benefitting from these runs are homeless, they have no way to wash their clothes. This means that clothing is always in demand and appreciated.
If you are looking to help out with the work that Bridges does, they are located at 120 Morris Avenue in Summit, NJ. You can call them Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm at (908) 273-0176. You can find them online at http://bridgesoutreach.org/ , and also get in touch with the executive director by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations and volunteers are always welcome.