Thursday, June 20, 2024

Second Building Bridges meeting scheduled


BREWSTER – Last Jan. 30 more than two dozen representatives from cities, churches, and community service organizations met for a Building Bridges luncheon at the American Legion Columbia Post 97 in Brewster. The group discussed community needs in the Quad City coverage area, the resources to meet them, and how groups can combine their skills to greater effect.

Attendees completed a contact form with their particular services, and specialties so others would know who to call for what services at which location. 

The second Building Bridges luncheon, scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, from 1 to 3 p.m., will continue efforts to strengthen connections between community leaders, identify resources, and share insights. A leader-to-leader directory will be handed out individually, and business cards with various organizations listed for first responders and related services will be available.

Navy veteran and Legion member Edward Gossett organized the inaugural Building Bridges gathering. The meeting's initial goal was to address food banks and related groups in the Bridgeport, Brewster, and Pateros area and create a community list of those who can help. The primary aim, as stated in the initial flyer, is to ensure that “no one falls through the cracks by directing individuals, school counselors, and veterans requesting help to the right resources.”

An immediate need that just came to Gossett’s attention concerns families without green cards who arrived on a bus and urgently require assistance with jobs, food besides the food bank, transportation, and long-term housing. Medical and dental services are also needed.

Gossett is the Legion’s Public Outreach Coordinator and Financial Officer and a 22-year retired Navy submarine missile specialist. He now works with the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) site in Brewster, one in a network of 10 National Radio Astronomy sites spread across nearly 5,500 miles and controlled remotely from the Array Operations Center in Socorro, NM.

“We are just trying to coordinate all of our resources,” said Post Commander Greg Wagg. “Our three main areas of interest are clothes, food, and toys.”

As a result of that first meeting, Gossett said some groups quickly responded.

“The churches…are getting a group together to make monthly feminine hygiene kits. Many of the women won’t go to school because of that because they can’t afford to buy the products,” Gosset said.

Gossett said he hopes to host the community meetings at strategic times a year, once before winter and again after Christmas, to discuss the coming summer fire season and see where everybody is.

“The number one comment people emailed and texted me before the meeting was that nobody talks to each other anymore,” Gossett said.

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or


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