For those of us whose mothers have gone to be with God, Mother’s Day is a poignant reminder of loss. It’s a day of prayer, reflection and thanksgiving for our mothers, for the love and nurture we received from them. And it can also still be a day of gift-giving, now in their memory rather than to them.
Some years ago I met the founder of what has become one of my favorite ministries. Bridge of Hope is a national ministry, now with affiliates it serves in seven states. Its model of service is to develop a partnership between a church-based mentoring group, professional staff, and a homeless or at-risk single mother and her children. The goal is to empower women to achieve housing, financial stability through employment, friendship and support, personal growth and wholeness. It’s an inspiring example of how the combination of loving, nurturing support coupled with material assistance can change lives. This past year, the network served 34 percent more families than the previous year and the need is still growing.
The original organization, now the oldest affiliate, is Bridge of Hope Lancaster & Chester Counties, Pennsylvania. Last year, the organization served 41 homeless mothers (64 percent of whom had experienced domestic violence or abusive relationships) and their 79 children. Since its founding in 1988, the program has assisted 262 women and 592 children. A number of years ago, it developed a Mother’s Day solicitation of donations in honor of or in memory of, mothers. I began making a gift “in honor of” my mother and mother-in-law, now it is “in memory of” both.
Once again this year, I’m offering a Mother’s Day gift to support this ministry with homeless, single mothers. And, once again, it is in memory of Anna Metzler Shank and Gladys Hershey Kennel. I give thanks for their love, and in this small way, can share it with other mothers. It is a way of keeping their memories alive.
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Adviser for Sojourners.