Sycamore Bridges helps families in need

   “…To see the smiles on [my children’s] faces, it just broke my heart with happy tears that there are still people out there that care about others.” This quote embodies the mission of Sycamore Bridges, a new program that aims to help Sycamore families in need.


   Sycamore Bridges is a subsidiary of Neighborhood Bridges, which launched in Columbus in January of 2017. Karen Naber, the assistant superintendent, learned about Neighborhood Bridges at an educational conference and was encouraged to implement the program at Sycamore. Sycamore Bridges is the first branch of the program in Southwest Ohio.


   Sycamore Bridges is an anonymous, advocate-based program. There are designated advocates throughout the district who have a relationship with the demographic of the community that may be in need. These advocates include counselors, nurses, administrators, local clergy, and representatives at Operation Give Back and Matthew 25 Ministries. 


   When someone has a need, advocates can post it on the Sycamore Bridges website. Then, Lori Drasnin, the area director for Sycamore Bridges, can reach out to the community for help in filling the request. The family receives the donation requested through the advocate, keeping the system completely anonymous.


   “The whole idea is to…bridge the gap between those who have and those who need something, without really identifying who those people are,” Drasnin said.


   The demographics of the Sycamore district are ideal to help the program run effectively. Drasnin said that the community “has the ability to give, way more on the giving side than on the need-based side,” which helps to lessen the discrepancy between these families and families in need. 


   In only three months, the program has already had a major impact on the community. As of Sept. 4, 14 needs have been filled and Bridges has given away close to ten thousand dollars worth of goods and/or services. 


“I love being a small part of this much larger movement.  I’ve been amazed to see how quickly people jump in to help fill a need that someone else has,” said Ann Delehanty-Koenig, the Sycamore Bridges advocate for SHS.


   Some of the donations have included back-to-school clothing, shoes, gas, grocery, and clothing gift cards, and a washer and dryer. Sycamore Bridges has also paid football and cheerleading registration fees, ordered a birth certificate so that a child could register for kindergarten, and helped pay rent.


   In the future, Drasnin hopes to increase the donor base in order to extend the program to the entire community rather than just the school district. She also said she would like to see more services offered, such as providing rides to activities or doctor’s appointments and offering translation services to families who move to Sycamore from another country.


“I think it’s nice to find the bright spot, you know, it’s nice to see the kindness, whether you’re the one giving or the one recieving. I just think in this day and age, the news isn’t always about good things, but this program really is,” Drasnin said.


   To help, you can subscribe on the Neighborhood Bridges website to receive an email if there is an open need. Needs are also posted on the Sycamore Bridges Facebook page. Fundraisers can help spread the word about Sycamore Bridges and raise money to help fill needs.