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Bridges night: Pathway to progress

May 1, 2024 | By Emilie Jacques


This video highlights the participants and organizers of Copper Shores Bridges during one of their weekly meetings in April of 2024. 

The program is broken up into multiple courses, intended to teach people how to increase their income, decrease debt, become more self-sufficient, decrease social services assistance, and increase awareness of dental, vision, medical and financial services available in the Copper Country.

“We try to identify people who are at a point in their life where they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and they want to make some changes,” said Michael Steber, Copper Shores Bridges program director.

Copper Shores aims to eliminate as many barriers for attendance as possible, providing child care, a warm meal and transportation to class when needed, all at no cost to participants. The first portion of the class is called Getting Ahead, which is facilitated by Steber. Most often, investigators explore concepts themselves, and collaborate with each other as they each take a deep dive into their own lives. 

“It's been eye opening,” said Heather Forsman, a Getting Ahead investigator. “It feels rewarding to come to this class and share my story with other people.” 

Each class night, investigators are given the opportunity, encouragement, and support to focus on themselves and their needs. As investigators analyze their lives over the 16 week course and take a critical look at their wants and needs, they come up with a “future story,” for themselves. 

“I was struggling before this class,” said Forsman.

Bridges nightAfter finishing Getting Ahead, many of the investigators stick with Copper Shores Bridges to join the Money Matters course. That also meets once a week for 16 weeks. In the video we meet the facilitator of that program - Jill Lindenberg

Though Bridges is largely centered around the adults focusing on their lives, the program has also proven positive for the investigators’ children, many of whom have formed friendships with the other kids. Some investigators have found their children pushing them to go to class so they can see their friends, and some have received notice from school that their child’s behavior has improved. 

One of the key issues that the Bridges program brings to light on a regular basis is the trap that many people in poverty find themselves in. 

“There are people working their tails off to make ends meet, and they’re on assistance, and they need that assistance,” explained Steber. “But if they make too much more money, or they get a raise at work, sometimes they have to decline it because they may lose their health insurance, they may lose some assistance with their food, and so it takes a tremendous amount of courage to go without for a very long time.”

Steber works with community leaders, bringing someone in almost every week to help investigators build social capital. By meeting bankers, business owners, law enforcement and more, investigators are able to build a network of support right at home.

“We want all people to succeed,” said Steber. “We want to be a Bridges community where everybody in our community knows that we’re only as strong as the weakest person in our community.”

Learn more about Copper Shores Bridges at

Emilie Jacques

Emilie Jacques

"I graduated from Michigan Tech with a B.S. in Psychology, a minor in Communication Studies, and a minor in Media Production. I love the outdoors and DnD." You can reach Emilie at