By Megan Willman

I recently attended the Bridge Builders’ Breakfast, an annual event for Bridgehaven Mental Health Services. Perhaps it’s because I’m a former English teacher, but the first thing I noticed was the use of the word “members” whenever anyone talked about the individuals who benefit from Bridgehaven’s services. Bridgehaven provides personalized and holistic care for those in our community who suffer from severe and persistent mental illness.

Every member who comes through the door receives individual therapy based on his/her own aspirations. The focus is on hope and recovery. “We’re all about rehabilitation, recovery, and reintegration into the community,” says Ramona Johnson, CEO and president of Bridgehaven. “Every person has the capacity to live a meaningful life.”

At the breakfast, I was deeply moved by the personal stories a few members shared. Their lives had been filled with such struggle and turmoil. Before that day, I realized I had not given much thought to the effect that mental illness has on the individual suffering from it. The members spoke about feeling at home at Bridgehaven from the moment they walked through the door because each had found a place of true understanding. In group and individual therapy, they set accomplishable goals and made step-by-step plans to achieve them. Every time one of those steps found success, they built confidence. “Every step forward is a step toward building hope,” Ramona says.

These are members of the Peer Support Specialist staff at Bridgehaven.

At one point in our conversation, Stewart Bridgeman, director of program operations at Bridgehaven, mentioned that “change takes place in the context of relationships with other people.” It is in that context that Bridgehaven members make changes in their lives. And it is in the context of community that we can help Bridgehaven’s members find their path to recovery.

Bridgehaven offers many ways for volunteers to become involved in the organization’s mission. 

Volunteers can attend a Bridge Builder Luncheon, become a Bridgehaven Ambassador, sponsor a Bridgehaven event, help around campus with indoor and outdoor projects such as painting or landscaping, and assist with the annual Bridge Builder Breakfast. Donated items are also greatly appreciated. See the list below for current requests. For those who prefer to donate money, online donations can be made here. For volunteer or donation information, contact Donna Schuster or 502.585.9444.

Wish List
Contact Donna Schuster before donating.
502.585.9444 or
950 S. 1st Street, Louisville, KY 40203

  • Art supplies
  • Bulk office supplies
  • DVD players and DVDs
  • Gently used or new clothing (particularly larger sizes)
  • Gently used or new housewares
  • Karaoke CDs
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Paper folding machine
  • Podium
  • Televisions
  • Toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)