ROBERTSDALE — Neighborhood Bridges, a nonprofit that has been helping connect students to community services, has opened in Robertsdale.The organization, which launched in Ohio on Martin Luther …
ROBERTSDALE — Neighborhood Bridges, a nonprofit that has been helping connect students to community services, has opened in Robertsdale.
The organization, which launched in Ohio on Martin Luther King Day in 2017, is currently serving in 40 communities in both Alabama and Ohio.
Andy Burton, one of the area directors for the organization, said Neighborhood Bridges made the jump from Ohio to Alabama when the brother of founder, Rick Bannister, moved to Hoover and noticed the need in his community.
"The need is everywhere," Burton said. "Hoover was just the first community for the Alabama expansion. We also just recently announced the location of our next expansion, which will be in Moss Point, Mississippi."
As previously reported by Gulf Coast Media, Neighborhood Bridges began serving Fairhope schools in 2019 and expanded to include other Eastern Shore schools in the spring of 2022.
Eight additional schools in the Robertsdale High School feeder pattern have just been added with the long-range goal of serving all Baldwin County Public Schools. The expansion includes adding services to Robertsdale Elementary School, Loxley Elementary School, Silverhill Elementary School, Elsanor Elementary School, Rosinton Elementary, Central Baldwin Middle School, Robertsdale High School and CF Taylor Alternative School.
The nonprofit focuses on providing basic needs to K-12 students and families by working closely with school counselors and the community to fill whatever is needed in the community.
"Our goal is to raise up children who are in situations where they feel less than other children because they lack necessities," Burton said.
Burton said the nonprofit works to rectify the non-cognitive barriers to learning, which would be any outside obstacle that could hinder learning. They then engage the community to provide those needs through direct local giving.
Since expanding to Baldwin County in 2019, the nonprofit has filled 314 needs and directly impacted 6,247 students and families, according to Burton.
These needs can range from clothes, shoes and personal care products to car repairs, housing assistance and school supplies.
"The mission of Neighborhood Bridges is to raise up kids who are in situations where they may feel 'less than' because they don't have shoes without holes, a warm jacket or whatever may be needed," Burton said. "We rely on the counselors and school personnel to be the eyes and ears for students in the school. The students remain anonymous; a counselor posts the need on our secure website. Once the donation is delivered, it is distributed to the student or family by the counselor."
Posted needs are broadcast to the community through email and social media posts. An email newsletter is sent once daily at 9 a.m. if a new need has been posted.
To sign up for email newsletters, visit the official website at bit.ly/baldwincommunity.
"There are so many families hanging on by threads," Burton said, "right on the cusp, who need the help of Neighborhood Bridges and our community."