In our course, Gwendolyn had identified an ongoing basic need to reduce the barriers that many face due to lack of transportation. One underutilized service due to that barrier was access to the BRIDGE Women to Women (W2W) group. I started offering rides there in collaboration with Silvia and Stephanie, the W2W coordinators. From there my awareness was heightened and during some local crises I could see the need expand throughout our community. I volunteered to steward a volunteer ride service through BRIDGE for clients to make appointments for health and human services, school needs, legal support, grocery shopping, work and whatever else helps bring ease to these BRIDGE folks and their families.
This RIDEshare program supports access for individuals and also helps develop mutual relationships that support both the health and wellbeing of underserved members that are so often overlooked, muted or erased and those of us living blindly in our community. To show up, listen, and support folks advocating for themselves is imperative.
RIDEshare operates within an accountability framework that BRIDGE holds central to its culture. It is essential that we (I am speaking directly to white and other privileged folks here) are accountable to the leadership of People of color and underheard voices. I have learned and been humbled through this practice.
RIDEshare is never just a designated amount of time. It disrupts my life: work, schedule, income, and other priorities— as exactly it should.
I have felt myself change and grow as a person: it has fortified and built up my resilience, understanding, humanity, perspective, values, connectedness, relationships and trust.
Seeing how we, as white and/or privileged folks, so often perpetuate the exact behavior that we are claiming to want to dismantle has underscored how essential BRIDGE training is as a prerequisite for showing up for any and all underrepresented folks to minimize harm while gaining a deeper understanding of the intersections of class, race, poverty, privilege, and accessibility.
I have a deep sense of commitment and responsibility to the mission of BRIDGE. Collectively we must resource this work especially for generations to come.
I am grateful to Gwendolyn, my sister-in-law who is a persistent leader and resource, for encouraging me to open my eyes to what it really means to live and engage as an active member of our community.
Please join me in supporting BRIDGE with a contribution today.
Multicultural BRIDGE helps to improve the lives of community members throughout the Berkshires, and provides consultation and training to groups and businesses across the state and throughout the country.