Today’s FAQ Blog is about Allies. As a part of BridgeBuilders WORK Life Skills and Employment Training, each student is paired with an ally to be an encouragement through the process. Laura Fechner, the director of our ally program, is helping us answer a few questions… What is an ally? An ally is an adult who walks alongside an employment training student for 4-5 weeks, to encourage and support them in this new endeavor in their life.
What are the expectations of an ally? To meet with their student weekly for lunch, to form a friendship with them during that time. The desire and hope is that it becomes a lasting friendship that goes beyond the five-week training course. Also, allies should plan to attend volunteer orientation and the student’s graduation.
We also require allies to be like-minded in their beliefs with BridgeBuilders, because ultimately through this process we want to see these students find a relationship with the Lord. What do you say to the person who is nervous about becoming an ally? If you can befriend someone who is different than you and has a different lifestyle in a different culture, then you can be an ally. It’s simply walking alongside someone, in order to be an encourager.
Tell me what an ally is NOT… An ally is not an evangelist, an ally is not a financial resource, an ally is not a professional counselor, and an ally is not a pastor. An ally is simply a friend and encourager.
What does this commitment entail? A new ally will attend a 90-minute volunteer orientation on the third Saturday of a month. After that you’ll be matched with a student in one of our classes according to a list of criteria on the application. For example, we match men with men, women with women, maybe we’ll match you based on shared characteristics like children or age, just so there is some sort of common bond.
After being matched, you would come to our West Dallas offices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday for an hour to have lunch once a week during the five-week course. If you come on a Tuesday or Thursday, BridgeBuilders provides lunch, otherwise you would need to bring lunch for both of you, or take your ally out to eat. On the last Friday of their curriculum you will definitely want to attend the graduation.
What is your ongoing need for allies? We need MANY allies. We are ramping up our training program and hoping to have more students than ever, so we need new and fresh allies who want to build these relationships. This is a very important service we provide for these students, many of whom simply need consistent encouragement.