As 2021 comes to a close, we want to thank you for staying engaged with us as we work to solve this much needed and intricate housing puzzle. Bridge21 is an endeavor that is a grassroots, community wide calling and we need each other to build a hopeful future for our friends and family members with special needs. You may think this doesn’t concern you or you have nothing to offer but if you’re reading this let me assure you, YOU do!
B21 is all about housing and building and solving this puzzle for the future. Maybe you don’t think that’s your thing. I get it as I once did too. Five years ago I was on the board of the National Ability Center. They asked if I could attend a meeting of a group of parents who were coming together to address housing. I was astonished to find out there was NOTHING in the way of housing options for young adults graduating out of The Learning Center. After all the years of support and inclusion offered through the PCSD and NAC, these families were literally moving away to other states where there were more opportunities for their loved ones.
The saving grace for me was my son was only in 6th grade, I had witnessed a neurodiverse Co-Housing neighborhood be built from the ground up in NC and I had time to dedicate to this cause. That group became Park City Housing and Transition and a few years later we focused solely on housing and got our 501C3 status and a Board of dedicated Trustees.
Sometimes I wonder and worry if our Bridge21 mission is articulated well enough to the young people we are hoping to serve. My son recently protested dressing up (which means I asked him to wear a flannel shirt and jeans) for our B21 Holiday Party, he said, “What do I have to do with a housing project?!”
My husband looked at me and quietly said, ”EVERYTHING”.
When we are young, we don’t want to tackle the things that challenge us. I never enjoyed puzzles when I was a kid. I didn’t like Legos or Lincoln Logs either. Looking back, there were a few “housing projects” I enjoyed building. Growing up in NC I loved building sand castles. I was always hopeful my creation might last. Upon returning to the shore the following morning I’d find the tide had completely washed it away. No worries though, I could start over with my spade and bucket and little sister.
Another “housing project” I recall fondly happened after a big snow we got one February. We built a snow fort village and a few snow horses we could actually sit on. That fun lasted a few cold days before the whole village melted.
As a parent, my kids , my husband and I tried many times to construct gingerbread houses. We had visions of sugar plumbs and a storybook finish in mind. In reality, most of our gingerbread houses looked like a modern art experiment in a candy shop and left us with 4 kids on a sugar high. Really fun but WOW what a cost!
All of those “housing projects" are fleeting. Easy come easy go.
Bridge21 is working (and it is WORK-a labor of love actually) to put this complicated puzzle together. I’m still not a puzzle fan but many in my extended family love putting puzzles together. I’d say B21 has completed most of the outside edges of this housing puzzle with more connections this year than ever before. Thanks to our Board for the countless meetings held this year with developers, city and county leaders, we are much closer to reaching our dream of neurodiverse housing.
To all of you who have brought your puzzle pieces to us in 2021, thank you! To the Mama and Papa Bears holding out the priceless gift of hope and tenacity, the families and friends who came together week after week last summer for our B21 Buds&Blooms garden experience, the B21 leaders who shine brightly in the special needs community, our financial donors, awareness builders and community partners, we say YES to 2022 and the beautiful, solid foundation being laid for tangible housing solutions in Park City and Summit County. If you would like to contribute financially to Bridge21, all gifts will go towards matching the $50,000 gift from a very generous supporter. You can make your donations at our Donate page: https://www.bridge21parkcity.com/donations
Wishing you all many blessings this coming year. Let’s DREAM BIG TOGETHER and complete this housing puzzle!
- Written by Liza Howell, Parent Liaison, Bridge21 Board of Trustees