Nonprofit that assists orphans and adoptive families to hold its first dinner fundraiser to raise awareness

Event set for April 21 in Lakewood Ranch

Image from the organization's website
Image from the organization’s website

Bridge a Life, a local nonprofit organization “that brings Christ-centered hope to orphans by supporting foster and adoptive families through awareness, training, outreach, and partnerships,” will host its first fundraiser on Thursday, April 21, at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch beginning at 6 p.m., it has announced.

The event will feature speakers who will highlight Bridge a Life’s local and global initiatives, a release says. Raffle and silent auction items will be available, along with authentic Ugandan food that can be sampled during the cocktail/meet and greet hour, followed by dinner, the release adds.

In the 12th Judicial Circuit (Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto counties), 1,288 children are in foster care, the release points out, but only 118 licensed foster homes are available. “Bridge a Life is passionate in [its] mission of helping recruit loving foster and adoptive homes to care for kids, and rallying volunteers who can support these families” so they can be successful in raising children who hail from “tough backgrounds,” the release explains.

“The 12th Circuit currently has 100 kids coming into care each month, and Manatee County has more intakes than any other county in Florida,” said Jody Jester, executive assistant of Bridge a Life, in the release. “The need is tremendous, but this is not just a local issue. Child abuse, neglect and abandonment are major issues that need to be addressed locally and globally.”

During the evening, representatives of Bridge a Life will share photos and stories about local outreach efforts as well as the organization’s initiatives to help children as part of the Ayinza project, located in Mpongo, Uganda, the release notes. Twice a year, Bridge a Life sends volunteers to assist villagers with community development projects, including a school lunch program, child sponsorship for quality education and educational initiatives focused on clean drinking water and hygiene, the release adds.

To purchase tickets or become a sponsor for the April 21 event, call Jody Jester at 306-8628 or go to

In Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties in 2015, Bridge a Life volunteers provided respite care for more than 200 foster and adopted children and prepared and delivered meals for more than 100 foster and adoptive families, “while providing much-needed emotional support,” the release says. “There are so many kids in need, and it’s so easy to make a difference,” adds Kaitlyn Leake, Bridge a Life board member, in the release. “We know not everyone is called to foster or adopt [youngsters], but we believe that everyone can play a part. That’s why we are so passionate about raising awareness, because we feel that so many more people would be compelled to help if they just knew the staggering need that lies in our own community and beyond,”

During the April 21 event, Bridge a Life also will salute its more than 75 local volunteers, the release notes. “We are excited to celebrate one family in particular, whose many years of service locally and globally have propelled Bridge a Life to where it is today,” says Danny Jones, founder and president of the nonprofit, in the release.