THE HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY
To understand our MOUNTAINS connection it's best start by understanding how it began. Dave started attending Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2015 where he was introduced to Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community. It was his first day, standing in the parking lot of the church waiting for service to begin when he met one of the neighbors and members who happened to be living on the street. A few minutes of listening to his story quickly turned into a conversation over a cup of coffee and a lasting friendship. He introduced Dave to some of his other friends and neighbors living on the streets and under a bridge in the Southside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. They began meeting and talking on a regular basis, forming close friendships, and realizing they all had much in common. One of those commonalities being a love for the outdoors.
In the summer of 2016, they decided to take a trip to Ohiopyle to bike the river trail and enjoyed it so much, made it a regular occurrence. Throughout the course of that summer they took many trips together— biking, hiking to Cucumber Falls, swimming in the river and the rock water slides, and enjoying one another’s company and community.
To mark the end of a great summer, they decided to plan a bigger trip and extend the invitation to more of their friends. They started a GoFundMe, quickly raised $1,200, and called the campaign Bridge to the Mountains because, quite simply, they were literally going from the bridge to the mountains. It was enough to embark on a whitewater rafting trip with twenty individuals— thirteen friends who lived on the street and seven or so friends who worked there with them.
“It was never about giving to people in need. We never saw it that way. It was about a group of friends trying to do something fun together. There was something very special about the shared experiences we had. It was fun, but more than that it was a bonding experience that brought us all closer together. It was something unique and adventurous that gave us all something to remember together”.
There were no social categories on the river. Those who worked in the streets walked away from the experience seeing those they worked with differently— it was the workers, “the professionals,” who had to listen, to learn to trust. That’s the unique gift of shared experience that started Bridge to the Mountains and the force that continues to drive it forward today.
Our organization continues to change and grow. We are expanding our daily presence on the streets and focusing our efforts on outreach and resource coordination to meet the current needs. We, of course, recognize the importance of mountain retreats, and continue the tradition with trips throughout the summer months.