BridgeMakers helps with healing process
by WILLIAM WRIGHT, Lifestyles Editor
Dec 16, 2010 | 1323 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BRIDGEMAKERS’ BOND — Left, Chari Buckner, business manager, and Linda Mayton, right, director of BridgeMakers in Cleveland, posed with 80-year-old Johnnie Humberd, a member of BridgeMakers since its beginning 12 years ago. Banner photo, WILLIAM WRIGHT
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When life must go on after the loss of loved ones but every step of the way seems distant, cold and alone, BridgeMakers in Cleveland is making each step feel closer to home with warm new friends who believe that in love, understanding and hope, you need not walk alone.

BridgeMakers is a local support group established by Ralph Buckner Funeral Home and Crematory in May 1998, and is open to anyone in the community who wishes to attend. Its mission is to provide an opportunity to build new relationships, meet new friends, and find continued meaning in life and living.

The group is directed by Linda Mayton, a Cleveland native who understands what the loss of loved ones feel like and is willing to help.

“BridgeMakers has been an inspiration to me and it’s been so gratifying to be able to work with such a dynamic program offered to the community,” she said.

“It is such a joy to see the healing process begin. Through faith, love and hope they can become an instrument of encouragement to others in the community.”

Dalphna Kuykendall and Doyle Mayton also assist with the program.

“About 20 people attended the first meeting. Now almost 200 people attend regularly,” said Chari Buckner, business manager. “There may be more than that on special events.”

According to Buckner, attending BridgeMakers has been a life-changing program that is both therapeutic and adventurous at the same time.

“I see joy on people’s faces,” Buckner said. “People are happy to become friends with people at BridgeMakers. These are friends and family who share in the loss of family members. But they also share the joy as life goes on. I see it as a way to build new relationships, new friendships, especially after a loss in your family.”

The program provides special speakers on healthy lifestyles, inspirational and motivational information, encouragement, fellowship and includes opportunities to enjoy entertainment together.

Buckner describes it as “a group of people in the same boat” which gives them all something profound in common.

“Anyone is welcome. People get involved because of a loss but they also have friends come with them,” said Buckner. “You don’t have to have a recent loss to join. As we all get older everyone experiences a loss or has baggage which they carry. That’s life. People are happy here to see each other and there’s room for a lot more.”

Last year in December, the group visited the Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville and enjoyed the stage play of Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” For 2011, the group promises several exciting trips and unforgettable journeys together.

Along with a variety of day trips, BridgeMakers will sponsor a trip to Virginia Beach, Va., in May 2011, a 13-day Alaska land and cruise trip in September 2011, and a trip to San Antonio, Texas, in December 2011.

BridgeMakers meets at the Mountain View Inn on the fourth Thursday of each month. The monthly meetings include fellowship, food, door prizes, special activities and exciting travel opportunities. The next meeting is Jan. 27, 2011. Membership is $50 annually or $5 per month.

The program is co-sponsored by Ralph Bucker Funeral Home and Crematory, Fike Funeral Home, McIntire & Associates and Higgins Funeral Home of Benton.

For more information or to make a meeting reservation, please call the BridgeMakers at 423-472-1969. Bridgemakers is located at 3000 Ralph Buckner Blvd. Cleveland, TN 37311.