Lauren Corso is the Director of Operations for Bridges of Hope in New Haven, CT. Here are her thoughts when it comes to the successes, challenges, and memories in leading city movement work on the east coast.
Bridges of Hope is a collaborative of New Haven area churches whose mission is to mobilize ministry and to transform the city of New Haven for the glory of God and the common good of its people.
We do this via a radical and sustainable partnership of Christ-centered churches, word-and-deed ministries, and private foundations, cooperating with individuals and institutions of all faiths and none for the common good when consistent with Christ’s values.
Organization Focus Areas:
City-Wide Day of Service; After-School Mentoring (Grades K-9)
One of our greatest successes has been…
Building relationships with church members within the context of sharing planning responsibilities for large events and also working together for a common goal/purpose. Some great friendships have formed among mentors from different churches!
When we spoke with Lauren, she said:
One year a pastor announced that his church was doing to 5 projects with 100 volunteers. Now this has expanded to over 70 projects and tons of churches. This annual citywide serve day is called I Heart New Haven. We had 1,200 people come out for first I Heart New Haven day when we purposefully served collaboratively with other churches.
We focus on relationship building. In the focus on initiatives, it’s easy to lose focus on friendships. The 9+ pastors involved with Bridges of Hope got together with their wives at one of the pastor’s home after I Heart New Haven day. This was the first time pastors’ wives met each other and a great way to build off of the citywide service day.
One thing we would not do again…
Try to plan an event with less than 3 months lead time or without a promotional timeline. With multiple churches involved in the coordination of so many elements that take time to develop and build, it hasn’t worked well to plan events “on the fly” or in a hurried manner. Creating clear promotional timelines has also proved to be very helpful so each church knows when to roll out and share the print materials, sign-ups, announcements, etc.
One moment when I thought: “This is why I do what I do” was…
In 2015, at our first I Heart New Haven Day event, I was standing in the middle of the New Haven Green with over 1,000 volunteers standing with their team leaders ready to pray for the city and head out to serve and I was just overwhelmed with the energy, excitement, and the Presence of God in that place.
Watch this video to hear from the pastors involved in Bridges of Hope and get a feel for I Heart New Haven Day: