Neighborhood Bridges is a program in place to help children and families in our community. Gateway to Kindness is the official name of the program.
Rick Banister founded the program in Ohio and branched out to other places such as Alabama. Greg Bishop is the contact person who oversees the program in Alabama. Mr. Bishop lives in Hoover, AL.
The Ardmore branch of the program is the only site that borders a state and serves two states.
Ardmore High School Counselor Autumn Rowe approached the Chamber about starting the program for the students in need at the school after she heard about it on a radio program. Chamber Director Yolandia Eubanks contacted Mr. Bishop about the program.
When a child needs an item, such as a coat, an advocate can post the need on the website. Anyone who has subscribed to the site can see the need and click on “I Can Help,” purchase the item and drop it off at one of the three designated drop-off sites in Ardmore: The Rustic Willow, Ardmore Telephone Company, and Berry Animal Hospital.
Donors can bring their receipt with them to one of the three donation centers when they bring the item they purchased and they will receive a receipt there for their taxes when they turn in the item they are donating. One of the area directors, Elizabeth Hodges Silcox, Yolandia Eubanks, or Terry Shannon will pick up the item and deliver it to the school and the advocate makes sure the student receives the item.
No names are listed, and the student remains anonymous. If a family loses items in a fire, natural disaster, or due to a job loss and needs furniture or household items they can be listed on the website. If new furniture is purchased, the furniture store can deliver it directly to the family.
In the case of abuse, the police may be asked to deliver items to the family or children.
Monetary donations can be made on the website and that money is put into a fund to help pay for camp for students or help pay for a student to take an ACT test if they do not have the funds to pay for the test.
A $2,000.00 commitment had to be met to launch the program. This money is used for the maintenance of the technology and software of the program and publications used in facilitating the program. KODA Cares, a company located in Huntsville, AL. donated $1,000.00. Julie Whitt Schumacher, originally from Ardmore, is the CEO of KODA Cares. The Greater Ardmore Chamber of Commerce donated $500.00, the Town of Ardmore donated $250.00, and the City of Ardmore donated $250.00.
There is a requirement for 200 people to be subscribed to the website also. Charities can subscribe, to businesses, anyone can subscribe to the site and help at any time.
A steering committee has been formed to make sure the money and items are used properly and the program is not misused.
The schools participating are Cedar Hill Elementary, Ardmore Middle and High School, and Johnson Elementary. Area directors and key contacts are Yolandia Eubanks, Elizabeth Hodges Silcox, and Terry Shannon. Steering Committee members are Mary Hobbs, Martie Norman, Ben Whitt, Joe Rush, Shane Emerson, Jessica Magnusson, Steve Hargrove, Mike Magnusson, and Billy Shannon. Advocates, individuals who can post needs are Matt Taylor, Johnson Elementary School principal; Wendy Yeager, Johnson Elementary Parent Liaison; Kristen Bates, Cedar Hill Counselor; Nona Adams, Cedar Hill principal; Kristin Dorning, Cedar Hill School Nurse, Paige Betterton and Patricia Tribble, Ardmore Middle School Counselors; Autumn Rowe, Ardmore High School Counselor; Tiffany Rolin and Sherri Graviet, Ardmore High School secretary and registrar and Yolandia Eubanks, Greater Ardmore Chamber Director.
If you are donating furniture or anything larger than a small box, someone will be in contact with you to set up a pickup time.
The website is www.neighborhoodbridges.org/community/Ardmore-al. When you subscribe make sure to verify your email when you receive an email requesting verification.
The program’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/nbardmore.
For further information contact Yolandia Eubanks at 256-423-6177.