FAQ: What is an Ally?


Today’s FAQ Blog is about Allies. As a part of BridgeBuilders WORK Life Skills and Employment Training, each student is paired with an ally to be an encouragement through the process. Laura Fechner, the director of our ally program, is helping us answer a few questions… What is an ally? An ally is an adult who walks alongside an employment training student for 4-5 weeks, to encourage and support them in this new endeavor in their life.

Valentino&KenWhat are the expectations of an ally? To meet with their student weekly for lunch, to form a friendship with them during that time. The desire and hope is that it becomes a lasting friendship that goes beyond the five-week training course. Also, allies should plan to attend volunteer orientation and the student’s graduation.

We also require allies to be like-minded in their beliefs with BridgeBuilders, because ultimately through this process we want to see these students find a relationship with the Lord. What do you say to the person who is nervous about becoming an ally? If you can befriend someone who is different than you and has a different lifestyle in a different culture, then you can be an ally. It’s simply walking alongside someone, in order to be an encourager.

Alice&AngelaTell me what an ally is NOT… An ally is not an evangelist, an ally is not a financial resource, an ally is not a professional counselor, and an ally is not a pastor. An ally is simply a friend and encourager.

What does this commitment entail? A new ally will attend a 90-minute volunteer orientation on the third Saturday of a month. After that you’ll be matched with a student in one of our classes according to a list of criteria on the application. For example, we match men with men, women with women, maybe we’ll match you based on shared characteristics like children or age, just so there is some sort of common bond.

After being matched, you would come to our West Dallas offices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday for an hour to have lunch once a week during the five-week course. If you come on a Tuesday or Thursday, BridgeBuilders provides lunch, otherwise you would need to bring lunch for both of you, or take your ally out to eat. On the last Friday of their curriculum you will definitely want to attend the graduation.

What is your ongoing need for allies? We need MANY allies. We are ramping up our training program and hoping to have more students than ever, so we need new and fresh allies who want to build these relationships. This is a very important service we provide for these students, many of whom simply need consistent encouragement.

If you have interest in becoming an ally or have more questions, email Laura at lfechner@hisbridgebuilders.org or click here.

FAQ: I Got Your Back


Today’s blog is part of a new series on Frequently Asked Questions. Stay tuned as we address some of the common questions asked of us: who BridgeBuilders is, what we do, our history, our future, and more. Today we are talking about I Got Your Back, our annual back-to-school bash and school supply drive, coming up on August 20.

What is “I Got Your Back”?

IGYB is an event geared towards helping parents equip their kids with the necessary materials for getting back in the classroom with confidence coupled with a back-to-school bash to kick off the school year with gusto. It was launched 8 years ago with BridgeBuilders’ co-founder, Velma Mitchell, and her desire to provide school supplies to the kids in the housing projects in Bonton.

Why is IGYB needed?

The average price of school supplies is skyrocketing. In 2014, the average cost to send a student to middle school with a backpack and the necessary school supplies would set someone back over $300.[1] Due to this, many families are unable to provide all the supplies needed for their kids. IGYB steps in the gap so that kids are able to have what they need to succeed in the classroom. This event also helps step in the gap for many teachers who are forced to pay for extra school supplies out of their own pocket in order to provide for kids who are unable to get all the supplies required.

Who benefits from IGYB?

Families in the Bonton community of South Dallas. Participants in BridgeBuilders’ programs. Local school teachers. And all those who get an opportunity to bless this community with what God has blessed them with.

How can you help?

* Volunteer to set up and pack school supply bags. * Serve at I Got Your Back on August 20. * Partner with us financially to cover the cost of backpacks and the back-to-school bash.

FAQ: What is urban missions?


What is the mission of BridgeBuilders? What does it mean to be an “urban missionary organization?” Let’s start with our mission statement: BridgeBuilders is an urban missionary organization that mobilizes the Body of Christ to alleviate poverty and promote flourishing communities.

There is a lot to unpack and digest from that, but let’s just tackle the beginning: BridgeBuilders is an urban missionary organization. So what does it mean to be an urban missionary organization?

From the Church’s earliest days, missionaries were sent into areas which needed the gospel, in order both to teach about Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins and address the issues which sin had created.

For instance, the missionary journeys of Paul resulted in the preaching of the gospel, churches being planted, as well as letters written to those churches instructing them how to operate and how to live in relationship with God and each other (which would later become part of the New Testament writings!).

Willie Charles
Willie Charles

Missionaries as we see them today do similar work in our modern context. Missionaries go into areas impacted by sin, proclaim the gospel, raise up leadership, train them, and leave them empowered to oversee the work of Christ in that area.

Now for me, someone who grew up in church, missionaries were always overseas. I remember annual visits from missionaries we supported in India, China, Guatemala, you get the idea.

But as I grew up and experienced more of the work of the Church, it became clear that missions don’t just occur internationally, but locally - right across the street or the city. And this is what BridgeBuilders specializes in: local missions in an urban setting.

Much like international missionaries, or even the missionaries of the New Testament, BridgeBuilders carries the gospel into areas broken by sin, presents the saving grace that comes through Jesus’ sacrifice, and then works to help repair that which has been broken by sin, all while raising up leadership who can continue the work well after the missionaries leave.

Our context for missions is poverty. We see the pervasive poverty in Dallas, and desire to bring the hope of the gospel of Jesus into these areas which, like all of us, desperately need forgiveness and reconciliation, with God, self, others, and creation.

This is what it means to be an urban missionary organization, and we are excited to say that we are just getting started!

What do y'all do?


Today’s blog is part 1 of a new series on Frequently Asked Questions. Stay tuned as we address some of the common questions asked of us: who BridgeBuilders is, what we do, our history, our future, and more. So what do y'all do? Let’s dive in head first. In the near future we will discuss our mission, what we believe, and more, but probably the most common question we get is simply: What does BridgeBuilders do? The answer is simple, yet very involved.

The short answer is poverty alleviation. We will address that term more at a later date, but really we are working to cure poverty. Everything we do is driven by the idea that we can cure poverty in our city, but it is a lot more complex than just building nice buildings, or throwing money at the problem. The problem is rooted in relationships. (For more on the relational view of poverty, read more here).

I know, I know, I still haven’t answered the question: what do y'all do?

Here goes: our programming is broken down into several categories, again always aimed at curing poverty. Below is a short description of each of those categories, but to really see what we do, you can see each category broken down into more detail by visiting hisbridgebuilders.org/what-we-do.

Urban Missions: Our Urban Missionaries live in the communities they serve, providing a relational presence in the impoverished neighborhoods of Dallas and serving as a tangible expression of the gospel in their communities.

Employment Services: Through our employment programs, participants receive training, support, and tools needed to get and keep a job. Completion of our life skills and employment training provides the possibility to be placed with one of our corporate partners

Youth Programs: Our youth programs provide positive support, academic assistance, life skills and spiritual understanding, and strive to draw parents into the life of their kids.

Redemptive Services: Our Kingdom-focused programs and services serve to restore the brokenness in all four of our foundational relationships: with God, self, others, and creation. Through education and mentoring, people learn the fundamental skills to create and maintain a life of self-sufficiency and begin to break the cycle of poverty.

Economic Development: The Good-Works Company, our engine for economic development, was established to create meaningful employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the communities we serve. The subsidiary companies, Bonton Motor-Works and Bonton Honey are for-profit businesses where employees share responsibility, knowledge, power and profit to create a God-honoring form of work.