After two years of prayer, task forces, putting together an advisory board, grant writing, and being led by the Holy Spirit, Heart River Bridges of Hope and Community of Hope are in motion. A special thank you to our partners across the state of North Dakota who have made this ministry possible.
This past fall and winter, we have been focusing on recruiting and training mentors, getting the word out about the Bridges program to the youth at the correctional facility, and planning and implementing worship services at the Bismarck YMCA for Community of Hope.
During worship at Heart River, we give quilts to youth being released from YCC to show them God’s love and how the Church keeps praying for them. In 2012, we received 100 quilts from congregations and gave them to 62 boys and 21 girls.
Mark Heinert, a Youthworks employee who has worked with out-of-home placement youth for over 20 years, Pastor Renee, and Diaconal Minister Shera Nesheim developed the curriculum for the mentor training.
Four times a year, Pastor Renee and Shera talk with YCC students and staff about the Heart River Bridges of Hope. Students have shared how they view church, what their faith is
like, and if they think Bridges of Hope is for them. Many have articulated how meaningful it is to participate in worship with Heart River, hear Scripture read, help in leadership roles, sing hymns, and not feel judged, but rather a part of something. These conversations have been very insightful and sincere and affirm everything we are working towards with the Bridges program and Community of Hope.
Mentor Program Stats As of Spring 2013
- Five trainings offered since July 2012 with 43 trained (potential) mentors
- Seventeen available mentors
- Seven mentor-student matches made since November 2012, with one active mentor/student relationship
- Twelve student applicants and two current YCC students (still at YCC)
- Nine non-active students