ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Bridge on 7th shelter seeks volunteers for year 2

The shelter on South Seventh Street is open each night from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Warming Shelter exterior.
Last year, the warming shelter on South Seventh Street in Brainerd provided 76 different adults with a warm place to sleep.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
We are part of The Trust Project.

BRAINERD — Community members stepped up to make Brainerd’s warming shelter a success in its second year, but there is still room for those who want to serve their neighbors.

The Bridge on 7th opened Sept. 15 this year and has already had almost as many unique guests as during the 147 nights it operated last winter.

“The homeless problem, even from what I thought when I took this job, is bigger than we all imagined,” shelter director Ann Hunnicutt said Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Last year, the shelter provided 76 different adults with a warm place to sleep. As of Tuesday, it had already served 72 people this year.

Open from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m., Bridge on 7th is located on South Seventh Street and has 20 beds and 10 overflow mats available for 30 adults to sleep each night.

ADVERTISEMENT

The nonprofit Bridges of Hope spearheaded the effort to open the shelter last year, working alongside several organizations, churches and other community partners.

More by Theresa Bourke
The ordinance will now go back to the Planning Commission and must go through two readings and a public hearing at the council level before it can be approved.
The performances are set for Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Chalberg Theatre at Central Lakes College.
The curling tournament is set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-4.
Downtown Brainerd businesses will decorate their windows for the holidays and run special promotions.
This week's Nonfiction November feature is "Hundred Miles to Nowhere" by local author Elisa Korenne.
The Brainerd City Council will set the final levy in December.
Choosing a theme can help make exchanging gifts even more fun this year.
The city will use $35,000 of its COVID-19 relief funds for a feasibility study for the bridge.
Hallmark has 40 new original holiday movies this year, mixed with favorites from years past for a full slate of films through the rest of the year.
The Renaissance-inspired show is set for Dec. 1-3 at Cragun's Legacy Clubhouse.
Dispatch reporters Theresa Bourke and Sara Guymon share their takeaways from a five-week self-defense course at Team Ascension.
The new Lincoln Education Center is housed in the remodeled south campus building at Brainerd High School.
Elementary students from schools in Nisswa, Baxter and Brainerd wrote out their instructions for this year's Thanksgiving meal.
This week's Nonfiction November feature is "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer.
The joint concert is set for Monday, Nov. 28 in Little Falls.
The City Council approved the first reading of a new ordinance that would prohibit the demolition of dwelling units in most of Brainerd's residential neighborhoods, with few exceptions.
The last of the 2018 referendum building projects is underway and set to wrap up next August.
Brainerd has six members on its School Board right now but could increase to seven with a ballot question.
The council will have its final budget workshop at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28.
Brainerd School Board members will hear presentations from the Minnesota School Boards Association and PartnerED next month before choosing one firm to lead the strategic planning efforts.
This week's Nonfiction November read is the 2022 memoir "Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard" by Tom Felton.
Four showings of the play will take place Friday-Sunday, Nov. 18-20.
Board members and district staff discussed the pros and cons of e-learning days versus snow days.
Brainerd City Council members approved several measures last week to further a housing project in west Brainerd.
The grants could provide funding for projects on Washington Street and South Sixth Street, along with a segment of the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail.
After 16 candidates competed for the five seats on this year's ballot for Brainerd School Board, some brought up the idea of a primary.
City council members decided to keep the downtown's special services district in tact for this coming winter but agreed to explore alternative assessment methods for the future.
Self-defense classes have not only taught me defensive techniques. They've also boosted by self-confidence.
This week's featured author is Crosby writer Joan Hasskamp and her memoir "We Don't Care Who Wins as Long as Joan Loses."
DJ Dondelinger, Randy Heidmann and Sarah Speer were the top three vote-getters out of a pool of seven.

“There was large support from the community that came together, came up with ideas of how they wanted the shelter to look, what would be successful, what would make the biggest impact,” Hunnicutt said. “And what this group envisioned is actually turning out to be super, super rewarding and super needed in this community. And we couldn’t do it without all the support from everybody.”

While the shelter has some paid employees, like Hunnicutt, volunteers are imperative to allow it to function as it does. This year, Hunnicutt is asking for groups — such as churches, business or other organizations — to sign up for a week of volunteering at a time to fill the shelter’s needs.

Each group is responsible for covering 14 shifts — one each night and one each morning — for the week. A lead person from each group coordinates with Hunnicutt and communicates with the rest of the volunteers to ease the director’s workload.

“That lead volunteer can be one person that comes to me with all the questions,” Hunnicutt said.

They’re all human beings. And they all have a story.
Ann Hunnicutt, shelter director.

The system has worked out well so far, and Hunnicutt said she enjoys seeing the wide breadth of volunteers who come to the shelter.

“Every volunteer is so different,” she said. “You have some that want to work with the people and visit. You have some that just want to come and help with the computer end of things or to clean, or they don’t want that social aspect. You have some that can do it all pretty easily. So it’s fun to see each volunteer and what role they fill the best.”

Hunnicutt said she hopes every volunteer and every person who has donated to the shelter — whether it be time, money, coffee or even prayers — understands the impact they have on their community. The vast majority of those who use Bridge on 7th already live in the area and aren’t coming into Brainerd from elsewhere, which was one of the concerns brought up before the shelter opened.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some guests might be out-of-towners who need a place to stay after being released from jail or a treatment program, but they typically just spend one night and then move on.

The guests are no different than anyone else in the community, Hunnicutt said, and are in a position where so many others could find themselves after just one injury or missed paycheck.

“They’re all human beings,” she said. “And they all have a story.”

Anyone who wants to be a part of that story through volunteering or donations can call Bridges of Hope at 218-825-7682 and ask for Hunnicutt or visit bridgesofhopemn.org/warmingshelter .

Beginning Dec. 7, donations for Bridge on 7th can be dropped off from 1-3 p.m. every Wednesday at the shelter, 1926 S. Seventh St., Brainerd.

Guests looking to stay at the shelter can walk in from 7-11 p.m. each night and will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. There is no limit to the number of times a person can use the shelter.

“It’s been an absolute blessing for this community,” Hunnicutt said.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
What to read next
“Bones and All” is the feature film adaptation of the 2015 novel of the same name by Camille DeAngelis. The road film is about the romance between two young cannibals who are searching to find their place in the world while dealing with the emotions of all-consuming first love.
A car inspection can provide peace of mind when preparing to travel this winter season.
Conner Erickson's family is inviting the community to give the 17-year-old a warm welcome as he returns to Brainerd for the first time since Sept. 9, 2022.
Subscribe and listen to the Brainerd Dispatch Minute at brainerddispatch.com, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.