A Bridge to Hope


*Photo by Adam Tomjack

In a recent story I posted, “From Rock Bottom to Mountain Top: An Inspirational Journey Through Life,” I briefly mentioned a newsletter begun by Jean Williamson, the subject of this story; the newsletter is called Eighth Street Bridge. I promised to post some articles that Jean submitted to me from this newsletter and it is time to do so. I would like to explain the Eighth Street Bridge in a little more detail so that you may gain a better understanding of how these posts came to be. Once again, I believe this provides a fascinating look inside human behavior, homelessness, and hope.

The following excerpt is from an issue of Nursing Science Quarterly, Vol. 16 No. X, Month 2004, 122-127

Eighth Street Bridge: A Dream of Human Becoming

Diane Josephson, RN; MA

Assistant Professor of Nursing, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sandra Schmidt Bunkers, RN; PhD; FAAN

Associate Professor Nursing, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Coming Together of the Story

The Eighth Street Bridge newsletter symbolizes the interconnectedness of community. It is a vehicle for collaborative efforts to present the stories of those struggling with community. The stories that appear in Eighth Street Bridge manifest connections persons are making with one another as they share their experiences.

Harnessing a Dream

Eighth Street Bridge started six years ago as a dream named Inner City Recovery. In imagining the dream, it was anticipated that Inner City Recovery would address homelessness in a way that would connect those homeless with others who would come to their aide. Those others were conceptualized as 100 members of a group named Inner City Circle of Friends. Jean said about her dream:

The thing that saved my sanity when I was living in my car was going to Augustana College and using the internet. It was a package deal—Inner City Recovery, Eighth Street Bridge, and Inner City Circle of Friends. The reason I started it then is still the same reason today. Someone needs to listen, someone needs to provide safety. Eighth Street Bridge is only the beginning. (personal communication, J. Williamson, October 23, 2003)

Friends, I present to you: Eighth Street Bridge

From the Sister’s Desk

We, as Presentation Sisters, took a public stand against the death penalty. We issued a statement as a Congregation in this regard in 2001. I am currently corresponding with three women on death row in a federal prison in California. They are spiritual persons who have great faith; such hope and deep trust in God.

My Life on the Row

Another day, another trial.

Judged by those who forever are in denial.

Ice cold sarcasm with unforgiving hearts

Being thrown with accuracy

By three or four with poison darts.

Constant talk of backstabbing and such

Gossiping in a corner and all in a bunch

Doing what they are accusing of others

Not bothering themselves to pull

Their own covers.

Instead of looking for goodness and

Light in those they speak

They would rather stay with the darkness for which they seek.

How they flatter themselves claiming

they are the ones being talked about

but sadly enough they are not even

that important to take that route

So being judged by those that are here.

Really no longer has me worried

For them I do not fear.

I will keep aiming for what is right

trying hard not to fall.

For I know it won’t be long before

I’m in front of the greatest judge of all.

Experienced by Mary Ellen Samuel


Perhaps I can take a look at those things I take for granted. It is relatively easy to be grateful when I sit still and think about those things and those people in my life. But then I have to ask myself how do I show my gratitude. I think some random acts of kindness would be the next right thing to do. Mary Ellen, please know that your sharing is making a difference. GJW

*Seeking Your Perspective

I write from beneath 8th Street Bridge. I write from my heart.

As the river overflows let it wash away our aches and pains. We can share many stories. These feelings we share are precious moments.

Sometimes life is like a teeter-totter built with its ups and downs. A broken relationship can shatter dreams and hope. Someone who cares can be a shelter from the rain.

Let us treasure our friends beneath the 8th Street Bridge. Sometimes we don’t understand our pains. Reach out and touch someone special today. We never walk alone. I travel with my friends in my back pocket. Ouch you’re sitting on me.

-Shared by Melissa Janise—Originally from Old Cheyenne River Agency at Eagle Butte, S.D. P.S. Always say I LOVE YOU.