Hoover Helps introduces Neighborhood Bridges

Published 3:04 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

HOOVER – Hoover Helps will officially launch in February a new program to better connect those in need with those willing to help, but founder Greg Bishop decided recently to go ahead and put the platform into action.

The Hoover community’s first opportunity to use the Neighborhood Bridges platform was following a fire at Riverchase Landing Apartment Homes on Jan. 20 that displaced at least nine families.

Hoover Helps was founded in 2015. Bishop and his family built on backpack feeding programs that were in place at four Hoover City School elementary schools, working with faith-based groups to make such a resource available for all HCS students.

The program expanded from providing food to providing other needed items including coats and shoes.

“Our mission was just to meet the basic needs of the children of Hoover,” Bishop said.

The new platform, Neighborhood Bridges, was founded near Columbus, Ohio.

Neighborhood Bridges allows needs to be posted in an online forum. Then, community members who have signed up receive an alert about new needs that are posted, and can select needs that they, or the group they represent, can meet.

“The people in the community are ready for something like this,” Bishop said. “It’s great to live in a place like Hoover where so many people want to give back.”

Hoover City Schools counselors will be trained on the software and will be the users who input needs based on their familiarity with their students.

“This new initiative is really going to empower them,” Bishop said about the counselors. “With a couple of keystrokes on a computer, [a need] will be out in the community.”

Users who “claim” a need after receiving an alert will then drop off donations at local fire stations to be transferred to the people in need.

The Hoover Neighborhood Bridges will officially launch Feb. 4, during what is recognized as Kindness Month.

But in the wake of the apartment fire, Bishop said he “felt it wouldn’t be appropriate to wait when people are hurting,” and needs were posted to Neighborhood Bridges, including shirts and shoes for residents who lost their belongings in the fire.

“You can’t imagine that degree of devastation,” he said. “It really is exciting to see it work first-hand.”

The website informs visitors that those needs have been met: “Kindness received!”

Registration on the site will be simple, Bishop said and added that individuals can sign up as well as representatives of churches and other organizations.

“I don’t know what the population is of Hoover, but that’s how many we want to sign up,” Bishop said.

Neighborhood Bridges can be accessed by visiting NeighborhoodBridges.org, then clicking “Hoover” under “Our Communities” on the left side of the home page.

For more information about Hoover Helps, visit HooverHelps.org.