Disconnection and reconnection: The Bridge Builders story
After 23 years of living in the same central city neighborhood, founder Kurt Owens had decided he and his family would relocate to the beautiful suburb of Grafton, Wisconsin.
The block he lived on had taken a nosedive. People loitered on his property, throwing trash in front of his house on a daily basis. Some of the homeowners had moved away and were replaced by loud and rambunctious renters. Many landlords were absentee and their properties became a nuisance to the neighborhood.
After a while, Kurt gave up hope and disconnected.
When Kurt was asked to plant a church on the North Side of Milwaukee, his plan was to drive in from his new home in Grafton. During information sessions with residents, he was heckled by someone from the block – accusing Kurt of making empty promises and leaving the city like so many others. The constant heckling that evening was a wake-up call.
At that moment, my heart was opened to seek transformation on my block instead of chasing after a different life in the suburbs
The move to Grafton was canceled
After that night, Kurt and his wife began going door to door engaging the neighbors on his block. Over the next year Kurt organized block-cleanups and neighborhood improvement projects.
In April 2016, Bridge Builders, Inc was established as a 501 (c) 3 neighborhood improvement organization.
In 2018, Bridge Builders assembled an executive board and started looking at homes to purchase. We hosted over 250 missionaries who came and served the block of 40th and 41st street between Hampton and Courtland Avenue. With a target area of 140 city blocks, we’re just getting started.
In 2019 we expanded our board, hired two full-time staff, bought and rehabbed our first Hub House at 4642 N 40th St., hosted another 250+ missionaries and partnered with business, government and church groups during four Saturday Serve Days.
Join with us as we continue our missions of holistic transformation on the very blocks Kurt considered leaving five years ago.