Bridges to Housing Stability, a Howard County nonprofit focused on providing a path to self-sufficiency to prevent and end homelessness through affordable housing solutions and advocacy, has earned the Community Foundation of Howard County’s 2022 Casey & Pebble Willis “Making a Difference” Award. Bridges received the accolade for its “Circle of Support” program, and took home a $5,000 grant award at the foundation’s Annual Dinner & Celebration of Philanthropy on December 1.
The Willis Award celebrates some of the amazing work being done by nonprofits in our community, by showcasing an organization or particular program that directly impacted residents of Howard County and made a quantifiable difference in people’s lives over the past year. The award was established twenty years ago by the Willis Family to honor Casey Willis, a remarkable woman who was engaged in both civic and charitable institutions throughout Howard County.
Because she made a difference in so many people’s lives, and was so committed to and passionate about causes she believed in, Casey’s family established this award to recognize her contributions and support the wide variety of causes she considered so important to a thriving community. Her husband, Dr. Eugene “Pebble” Willis, was an orthopedic surgeon dedicated to providing excellent care and services to his patients and making a difference in our community. Pebble loved presenting this award in Casey’s memory on an annual basis. When Pebble passed away in 2009, the award was renamed to honor the memory of both Casey and Pebble and their legacy of “Making a Difference” in our community.
Every day, Bridges connects with individuals and families living in Howard County who face the threat of homelessness or lack access to safe, affordable housing. For these people, housing stability provides the foundation for moving forward in all aspects of their lives. In Bridges last fiscal year, Bridges assisted 955 individuals in 323 households. Most were women of color. They include women who were homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness, and working women employed as para-educators, service providers and office workers. These women and girls receive support from Bridges’ four housing programs, which operate under a Housing First approach and provide access to affordable housing and critical support services.
The Circle of Support is a program that provides supportive services and workshops offered quarterly to address client-centered interests such as financial management and health-related topics. In the last fiscal year, the Circle of Support was offered to 47 households in the Bridges to Housing Stability Alliance Program. Circle of Support program offerings include: Stress Management, Entrepreneurship, Youth Mentorship, Improving Financial Position and Credit Scores.
2022: Bridges to Housing Stability for the Circle of Support program
2020: Girls on Fire for its mentoring program for girls
2019: no award
2018: no award
2017: Humanim, Inc. for its Healthy Transitions Program
2016: Community Action Council for services in the aftermath of the Ellicott City Flood
2015: A-OK Mentoring and Tutoring
2014: Camp Attaway
2013: Domestic Violence Center of Howard County for its Sexual Assault Hospital Accompaniment Program (SAHAP)
2012: Neighbor Ride
2011: Linwood Center for its Linwood Center Boutique
2010: Community Action Council of Howard County for its One Month’s Rent initiative
2009: Chase Brexton for its Program for Dental Screenings & Health Promotion
2008: Rebuilding Together Howard County
2007: Howard County Autism Society
2006: FISH of Howard County, Inc.
2005: Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center
2004: The Health Alliance
2003: Christ Church Link Program