by Debbonnaire Kovacs and Kathy Marson
By Kathy Marson
Upper Columbia Conference communications department administrative assistant
Reprinted by permission, with an introduction by Debbonnaire Kovacs
submitted January 16, 2014
Since my assignment here at Adventist Today is to look for Adventist individuals, groups, schools, churches, or other organizations who are working for God outside the sometimes narrowly perceived “Adventist box,” I am always particularly excited to find a congregation who are taking God’s commission seriously enough to actually work with their community, rather than remaining separate, as Adventist congregations sometimes do (and end up reinventing wheels that are already in place, sometimes.)
When I saw a slightly abridged version of the story below in the Dec, 2013 Gleaner, I immediately called Kathy Marson at Upper Columbia and spoke with her about it. She had this to say: "I was just mesmerized. I don’t always go out to see the things I write about; often people just send me the facts and I write it up. But I went to SonBridge myself. I took the tour, saw every nook and cranny, asked lots of questions, and I was just amazed. I love it when the Adventist church can run so smoothly with the community. They just try to meet people’s needs, whatever those needs are. What a nice thing to do for your community; just to help in any way you can! That’s the epitome of what God asks us to do!"
Below, read the complete version of the story Marson wrote, as it appeared on the UCC website. https://www.uccsda.org/News/2013-10-22
You can also go to www.gleanernow.com, type in SonBridge, and find other articles about this creative and caring place.
The first patient to the SonBridge dental clinic visits with the dentist, Ronald Will
Photo credit Norman Thiel, used by permission
College Place, Wash., October 22, 2013 – Recently SonBridge Community Center in College Place, (Wash.,) was awarded a $200,000 grant by the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust. This will be used to expand the SonBridge facility.
The main goal of SonBridge, created in 2004, is to connect people with resources and to find gaps where there is no resource. Then they create programs to fill these gaps. One big need will be met with this grant.
These funds will help them complete their Education Center for Better Living, hopefully by mid-2015. There were 3,200 visits to educational classes during 2012. The classes range in topic from healthy choices, marriage enrichment, financial planning, and more.
As I toured the facility with June Christensen recently, I noted that many small rooms are used for more than one purpose. The walls have shelves holding the supplies for two different groups to utilize the space. Other rooms are used by community groups who need an office from which to operate. The current classroom space is in use nearly every evening and afternoon.
The Education Center will alleviate the congestion and will contain additional space to hold classes and meetings which will translate into more people being helped. The new assembly space will include a large hall with folding partitions, so it will be an expandable multipurpose space.
Having many options for meetings is important for a ministry like SonBridge because it is multi-faceted in that it does not just fill one niche. It houses the SOS medical clinic, the SonBridge Dental Clinic, Blue Mountain Television, KLRF radio and a large thrift and gift store. They partner with the YWCA, Helpline, Children’s Home Society, Red Cross and other agencies. There are more than 18 other nonprofits that partner with SonBridge.
Eight Seventh-day Adventist churches in the community are sponsors of SonBridge. So over and above all the ministries housed within the building is the fact that SonBridge is the Adventist Community Services (ACS) for these churches.
The first phase of construction established a new wing, new parking and a more private waiting room for the medical and dental clinics. They upgraded the thrift store and doubled the parking so there is parking for both clients and shoppers.
The current renovations are to incorporate an emergency shelter with a kitchen and showers. Then the second phase of construction will build the new assembly space –The Educational Center for Better Living. And through all of this construction they are debt-free. The Thrift and Gift Store income covers their operating budget.
God's leading has been seen in many ways. Thanks to many volunteers, and to organizations who provide funding, SonBridge can continue to expand and fill in the gap for people of the Walla Walla Valley.