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May 13. 2013 8:28PM

Endowment established for Milford support organization Bridges

MILFORD - For people who have been traumatized by abuse, Bridges has been the place to turn for help in the Milford area, but budget cuts in recent years have jeopardized the organization's ability to stay afloat.

In order to ensure the doors to Bridges stay open, the organization has partnered with the Rotary Club to establish a new endowment.

"Bridges' impact in our community is immeasurable and their story and their efforts go largely unnoticed," said Ryan Hansen, president of the Milford Rotary Club. "Ask any area cop how devastating the loss of the Milford office would be. Bridges is where they turn in all of their domestic and sexual violence cases for victim support."

Bridges provides resources and services to those who have suffered from trauma, including rape, sexual abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence, said Hansen. State and federal budget cuts nearly forced Bridges to close two years ago, but individuals and organizations in the area stepped in to raise $50,000 to keep the office open to serve the people who need them most.

"They are there for the victims and also for the families when these crimes occur," said Hansen. "They get the victims out of harm's way. They help jail the perpetrators. They provide long-term assistance in healing. Bottom line is they break the cycle and work to prevent this behavior from becoming generational."

Funding cuts continue to be a challenge for organizations like Bridges, but Hansen said an effort is underway to establish the Rosebush endowment, a $500,000 rainy day fund that would support Bridges during any future financial crisis.

Thus far, Rotary has donated $30,000 to build up the Rosebush Fund.

"Our Rotary club is asked to support lots of great charities trying to solve problems in our community: poverty, substance abuse, illiteracy, health issues, self-esteem," said Hansen. "The prevention that Bridges provides gets to the root, the cause, of many of these."

To help bring other individuals and organizations on board to raise funds for the endowment, Milford Rotary and Bridges will host an informational cocktail and fundraising reception at the Amato Theater at the Boys and Girls Club of the Souhegan Valley on May 22 at 6:30 p.m.

During the free event, clients from Bridges will share their experiences of survival and of the impact of Bridges in their personal situations.

"We are very excited to bring this event to Milford and help tell Bridges' story while raising money for our Milford office," said Pam Auer, development director for Bridges, which also has an office in Nashua.

For more information visit www.bridgesnh.org.

nfoster@newstote.com


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