Bright Bridge Ministries is the new name of a local non-profit that for more than a decade has served Escambia County’s most vulnerable residents with food, transitional housing and other offerings.
The new name is part of a complete brand transformation that has given the organization a renewed sense of purpose.
For Bright Bridge Ministries, formerly Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries, their mission hasn’t really changed. That means meals continue to be served on most weekday mornings.
“This organization began in 2007, as a response to the need of the hungry in our community. They were knocking on our back door asking for food,” said Executive Director Robin Noble. It was the start of their first ministry, their Food Ministry Program.
“At first, it was brown bags handed out the back door. And, now we serve a hot meal every day, Tuesday through Friday.”
The brunch-time meal, served from 10-11:30am, currently feeds around 100 people, give or take, on any given day.
On the menu today is goulash, coleslaw, black-eyed peas and cobbler.
Seated at a table near her office, Noble says their organization has grown from just a food ministry to now include a mail service for residents who don’t have a street address. Individuals who volunteer can take part in their Earn A Bike program. Additionally, Learn to Read and life skills classes are offered.
In 2017, they opened “His Place,” a 50-bed men’s housing facility that provides a place for continued recovery and spiritual growth following completion of a rehabilitation program.
“We have AA meetings here. We have Celebrate Recovery here. We have a Grace group that meets four days a week,” proclaimed Noble. The staff was getting to know the people that were coming and invited them to stay with them in their renovated space upstairs. “We do random drug testing to hold them accountable. We help them find a job and will provide transportation to get them there. They pay a program fee to stay.”
“I’ve been in drug rehab programs, and the hardest thing to find coming out is support. You’ve lost your family, everything that you’ve owned,” said Jonathan Keith Cobb, whose own journey with addiction brought him to Bright Bridge Ministries a few years ago.
Now living at the facility full-time and working part-time, he is one of their success stories.
“I came through it and came in with nothing but a duffel bag full of clothes, and left here making $21/hour, vehicle, family back in my life and doing great. Unfortunately, I injured my shoulder and thanks to the graces of Ms. Robin came back here and been able to develop a career here at the church, working with them.”
But, while Noble and company were working to help individuals like Cobb rebuild their lives, there was a sense that the organization’s identity didn’t fully reflect the scope of their efforts.
Firstly, the non-profit rents space from Richards Memorial United Methodist Church at 2600 West Strong St. and its name was somewhat problematic.
“Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries was our name. It’s very hard to say, hard to remember,” Noble explained. “Because we’re housed here at Richards, it was very confusing as to what was the ministry area - and what was the church area. So, we all had a consensus that we needed to come up with a new name.”
After failing to come up with something on their own, Noble says they looked for help from idgroup’s Brand On Us initiative, which chooses one small non-profit each year to receive a comprehensive, integrated brand makeover.
“Going through the process, they shared who they were with our team and really got very vulnerable in what they do and who they are,” said Mariah Crawford, communications manager at idgroup. “So, we were really able to build not only a new brand for them, but a new campaign that will help them further their mission and grow in the community.”
For Bright Bridge Ministries, the reward for selection for the seven-month transformation is a package of goods and services from idgroup and partner organizations worth $100,000, much more than they could afford on their own. Benefits include a new logo, development and printing of new brochures and signage, a TV ad campaign, help with social media, and development of a new website.
“The new website is www.brightbridgeministries.org. It’s just reflective of their new brand identity,” Crawford said. “We have a great brand video that we encourage everybody to watch to really get an idea of what they’re doing and just how much they’re impacting the community.”
The video opens with the testimony from a former resident.
“A lot of us walked in the door with nothing, just the clothes we had our back. We have achieved so many things since we’ve been here.”
“There are people who come to this place physically, mentally and spiritually broken,” said board member Henry Roberts.
“Everywhere you go, you will begin to encounter people who are overwhelmed, and we want to be like a bridge over troubled waters...from what has been to what can be, from darkness to light.”
Thus, the new name Bright Bridge Ministries.
“I love the name. It’s easy to remember. It’s optimist,” said executive director Robin Noble.
“We want to be a bridge for people to help where they are to get to somewhere a little bit better. So, it’s a Bright Bridge. They thought the song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was very appropriate and we do, too.
With the new name and marketing exposure, thanks to idgroup, Bright Bridge Ministries is looking toward a brighter future, now well-positioned to help more individuals on their journey to rebuild and improve their lives.
Find out more about the organization by checking out their Facebook page, which you can link to at the new website, www.brightbridgeministries.org.