Every Wednesday morning, you’ll find Leveraged Finance Associate Hunter Foreman at The Bridge, helping to serve food and drinks to the homeless. “I wanted to find a place that I could go to regularly and a place where I felt I was making a meaningful contribution,” Hunter says.
And he found that place a few years ago at The Bridge, a homeless assistance center located in the Farmers Market district of downtown Dallas. This 24/7 facility serves breakfast, lunch and dinner almost daily, and also provides access to healthcare, income alternatives and long-term housing.
Just down the street from The Bridge is The Stewpot, a separate organization run through First Presbyterian Church. While The Stewpot provides a wealth of services to the homeless—everything from dental care and casework assistance to tuberculosis screenings and clothes—it’s also in charge of sending volunteers to run the meal services provided by The Bridge. The two organizations work together to address the needs of Dallas’ homeless population.
Added to the mix is ORIX, which has been sending employees once a month to serve meals at The Bridge for many years now. These days, the company’s designated volunteer time is the morning of the second Wednesday of each month, and any employee can sign up to take part through the intranet.
One of the employees who takes part in this partnership is Internal Audit Manager Bre Blazewicz, who has been with ORIX for four years and has been volunteering at The Bridge for about two years. For Bre, giving back to others helps her appreciate the everyday blessings in her own life—like having a loving family and a roof over her head. “Any way that I can help someone, I want to try,” Bre says.
Orchestrating ORIX’s monthly volunteer activities with The Bridge is Daniel Gillespie, an Associate Director in the Alternative Investments group. “I’ve always been impressed with how the individuals that come through every morning or afternoon for meals are all very grateful—they really appreciate the support and are very vocal about that.”
Undoubtedly, the city of Dallas—which runs The Bridge—is also grateful for the support, since homelessness—among those utilizing shelters and those who are unsheltered—has grown 24 percent over the past year to nearly 4,000 individuals.
“Without the commitment that each of our volunteers makes to us and those we serve, we wouldn’t be able to meet our mission,” says Ashlee Hueston, Meal and Volunteer Services Director for The Stewpot. “Daniel, Bre and Hunter are willing workers who make a commitment to serve the homeless adult men and women of downtown Dallas—and always do it with a smile on their face and compassion in their simple salutations to guests.”
One thing that’s interesting to Daniel: Over the years, the volunteer opportunity has evolved into a regular occurrence among many employees who visit The Bridge on their own time—people like Hunter, who make it a weekly ritual.
“The dining hall at The Bridge is a magical place where those who need service and those with a heart to serve come together for a meal,” Ashlee says. “We’re so thankful for all ORIX employees who have come to serve and those who may serve in the future.”
And ORIX employees are just as thankful for the opportunity to spend time with clients at The Bridge. “It’s easy to get caught up in my own life,” Hunter says. “Being able to go to The Bridge once a week gives me a lot of perspective on what I have and what others don’t have. You see people with pretty amazing outlooks and a great spirit for life—when they slept outside the night before. It’s amazing to be able to witness other people’s strength.”