A small but energetic group of staff and volunteers offer free and confidential services to homeless young people on the streets of Boston
Bridge's Mobile Medical Van and Street Outreach program become national models
Bridge becomes one of only nine service agencies in the nation to offer transitional living to its clients
Bridge develops the Transitional Day Program
Bridge opens Boston’s only emergency youth shelter, the West Street Residence
Bridge opens the Warming Center during the coldest months of the year, to provide emergency overnight accommodations to youth
In the late 1960’s, a dedicated group of women, teachers who were members of the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Boston, began reaching out to disaffected, troubled, and often drug-involved youth on the Boston Common and in Cambridge, which had become gathering places for young people who had no place else to go.
At first, the Bridge founders provided sandwiches, cold drinks, and non-judgmental conversations that turned into supportive counseling, referrals to health care, psychiatric services, a way back home if possible, and planning for alternatives when going home was not an option.
Yet, by 1970, it was clear that traditional services weren’t going to work for this new and growing homeless population. Bridge Over Troubled Waters was formed, under the pioneering leadership of Sister Barbara Whelan, Sister Marie Keough, and Sister Barbara Scanlon.
Collaborating with a group of physicians from Massachusetts General Hospital, Bridge organized a volunteer-run, mobile medical van to bring emergency and preventive health care to the streets. They were on the forefront of a national movement to develop innovative programs and practices to reach the most vulnerable, high-risk youth and provide the age-appropriate continuum of care that could enable them to transform their lives and grow into fulfilled, self-sufficient adulthood.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters became – and after more than 40 years remains – a national model and program incubator for youth development services which are effective in helping the most troubled and vulnerable homeless youth to turn their lives around.