Bridges of Faith starts nurse training initiative

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, July 31, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Bridges of Faith held a new pilot program this summer to provide nursing assistant training to Ukrainian orphans that are close to being too old to be adopted.

Bridges of Faith has brought orphans from Ukraine for a summer in Alabama for the past several years, leading to many of them being adopted.

This summer four female orphans took part in the pilot nursing focus program.

“Having a marketable skill could mean the difference between becoming a human trafficking statistic and having a meaningful life,” Bridges of Faith founder Rev. Tom Benz said.

Benz said he was “overwhelmed by the generosity of the community.”

Partners in the endeavor have included LeCroy Career Technical Center, St. Vincent’s Chilton hospital and a number of volunteers.

LeCroy Career Technical Center allowed the pilot program to use their nursing classroom. Nancy Hendrix, Bridges of Faith’s director of ministries, said this gave the girls experience using real-world equipment.

“The nursing program is staffed by volunteers,” Benz said. “A nurse practitioner from Maryland, a physical therapist from Kentucky, along with RNs and doctors from Central Alabama have selflessly given to the orphans.”

He said BOF was thankful for the help and support.

“When children graduate from high school and age out of the orphanage, they have little hope of a job,” Benz said. “Within a year, 10% commit suicide. Only 10% make a reasonable life. Human traffickers shop the orphanages — six of 10 girls are trafficked.”

Work has also been done in Ukraine to help these girls find employment.

“Several Ukrainian hospitals show strong interest and some commitment to hiring these kids,” Benz said. “Ukrainian churches are committing to providing mentor families.”

Hendrix said the pilot program could be a life-changing experience for the participants, ensuring they have tools for a good life.

The organization hopes to grow the program and add a similar program for boys in a traditionally male industry, such as auto mechanics, next year.

Benz said Poplar Springs Baptist Church youth group donated time to clean up the Bridges of Faith BridgeStone retreat center. The church also helped provide meals to the nursing program participants and the additional six orphans that came to BridgeStone.

“We will immerse these young people in God’s love. By His grace, they will leave with hope, with a future and knowing Him, and they will have a real skill with a prospect for a real job and a good, productive life,” Hendrix said.

Clanton Church of God also provided food and volunteered for a day of activities with the orphans.

More information about Bridges of Faith, headquartered in Billingsley, is at  www.bridgesoffaith.com.

Benz can be reached at 334-221-0385 or benz@bridgesoffaith.com