Website connects struggling Calgarians with help
Bridgemycommunity.org was started by Dylan Gallagher and his wife when they decided the existing network of social services and charity groups was not reaching some needy Calgarians.
"If you were destitute, there was lots of help available. But if you were anything other than that, there really wasn't a lot of options for you," Gallagher said.
The website lets people post a request for items such as food, diapers or baby clothes. People who offer help then drop off the requested items at community groups and churches, allowing the exchange to stay anonymous, Gallagher said.
"I kept my dignity," said Kelly McClintock, who discovered the website at a time when she had run out of money for food.
"I had accessed the food bank the total amount of times that you're allowed to in a year and I was becoming desperate for food," said McClintock, who has chronic health issues and receives the provincial government's Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped.
"I'm very grateful for the help I get through the government. But there are times where I'm only left with $60 for the month for food."
Leary at first that it could be a scam, McClintock posted a request for food. To her amazement, people offered to help, she said.
'It's just wonderful. It gave me hope.'—Kelly McClintock
"It's just wonderful. It gave me hope," she said.
"I've been quite isolated with my health issues for 10 years. And this was really the first time I've reached out, other than to the food bank," she said.
"To be treated in such a way did my heart very….just improved my life. Just gave me a boost."
More than 1,200 people have either been helped or made donations through the service since it went online in 2008.
The site's biggest donors tend to be former clients such as McClintock, Gallagher said.
McClintock is now working with Gallagher, coordinating the website from her home.
"It's just really changed my life," she said.