What is the Bridge to Hope?
What is the history of the Bridge to Hope?
What happens at a Bridge to Hope meeting?
What are the group guidelines?
What is the role of the facilitator?
Will my participation be confidential?
What is Beyond Bridge to Hope?

What is the Bridge to Hope?

The Bridge to HopeSM is an educational and support group for those impacted by the addiction of a loved one.  Our goal is to educate and support families confronted with substance abuse and addiction, so they will know they do not travel this journey alone.  As a refuge for families, we will provide hope, encouragement, support and education through the sharing of our experiences with the process of treatment and recovery of our loved ones. Through mutual sharing of our experiences, the members will learn the value of taking care of themselves.  Information, coping and problem-solving skills are shared. (More information about us can be found under the “About Us” tab on our home page).

What is the history of the Bridge to Hope?

The Bridge to Hope, originally known as the “Cranberry Family Support Group” was organized in 1999 by one mother who recognized the specific needs that families have when one of their loved ones has become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.  The most immediate need is for a safe, supportive and confidential environment in which to express their fears, concerns, emotions and questions.  This group met weekly and was open to anyone affected by substance abuse.  Experiences were shared, “lessons learned” were exchanged and family members could comfortably express emotions that might not be understood in other environments where the subject of addiction is not discussed.
In the fall of 2003, the building where the group had been meeting became unavailable.  A small group of people continued meeting weekly in a member’s home. This situation prevented growth, however, because they were unable to publish newspaper advertisements about a new location.

In the spring of 2004, these members attended a presentation entitled “Substance Abuse Awareness, given by the Passavant Hospital Foundation, UPMC Passavant/UPMC Passavant Cranberry and Gateway Rehabilitation Center.  It was the group’s shared hope that they would connect with other families at this community event.  However, apart from two other young adults, the group members were the only ones in attendances.  This was a disappointment to both those giving the presentation and those attending, each knowing that these few people were definitely not representative of the number of families affected by addiction.

Passavant Hospital Foundation took the initiative to begin an association with the Cranberry Family Support Group by organizing a “Substance Abuse Support Discussion Group” meeting with the Foundation, UPMC Passavant management and the Allegheny County Administration of the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services to discuss the needs of the support group.  Through this association with Passavant Hospital Foundation, the Bridge to HopeSM was formed, and a weekly meeting room was made available in January 2005.  A facilitator for the meetings was initially provided by the Parental Stress Center.  The Foundation also provides quarterly educational seminars that are open to the public.

Membership increases weekly, and the Bridge to HopeSM continues the service work that all began with one concerned mother . . . support for those who suffer the effects of a loved one’s addiction and sharing the knowledge that they are not alone in their journey.

What happens at a Bridge to Hope meeting?

The newcomer is the most important person at the meeting.  You will meet people who are caring and understanding, as most of us have been through the same situation that you are facing.  You will learn that you are not alone.

Our meeting guidelines are as follows:

Welcome to the Bridge to Hope Family Support Group

The purpose of this group is to:

*Provide hope, information, and to share successes and hardships
*Provide a safe place to express feelings openly in a non-judgmental environment
*To learn from each other and to know that you are not alone.

These are the guidelines of our group:

  • Everyone will have a chance to speak, but will not be obligated to do so. We ask that you refrain from cross talking.  We also ask that you try to be brief so that everyone has an opportunity to speak.  Please do not be offended if we find it necessary to interrupt you.
  • Everyone agrees that any and all information disclosed in this group is private and totally confidential.  What is said here stays here.
  • Please feel free to get up and move around during the course of the meeting.
  • We encourage you to exchange phone numbers and to call each other between meetings.
  • This is your group!  If any member has any suggestions or criticisms, they are encouraged to voice them to the facilitator.

What is the role of the facilitator?

The facilitator for this group is knowledgeable in the field of addiction, trauma response, general group structure and group development.  The facilitator is skilled in universalizing the information disclosed in the group in order to teach and practice coping and problem-solving skills.  The facilitator will recognize when an individual in the group needs more help than the group can provide and an appropriate referral to other resources
will be made.


  • Open the meeting promptly at 7:00 P.M.
  • Begin with the Serenity Prayer, review the guidelines for the meeting, conduct around-the-table brief introductions and solicit any announcements.
  • Call for any member to speak who may be “in crisis.”
  • Turn the program over to the Lead (member volunteer who presents the subject to be discussed at the meeting) or guest speaker.
  • Direct the meeting by intervening when discussion moves “off task” or when conversation is monopolized by any member, staying sensitive to the needs of the members and cognizant of the emotionally charged environment that is often present in the meetings (e.g., offer to take such a member aside with a few others for further discussion in a smaller group or offer to stay after the meeting to continue discussion).
  • Be vigilant in differentiating between members’ “advice giving” and “experience sharing.”  Our role is not to give advice, but to share experiences, both positive and negative, that contribute to the overall process of recovery.  When conversation moves toward “advice giving,” help the member restate the point so that it becomes more “experience sharing.”
  • Take the initiative to do some independent research on issues that come up in the meetings and report the results of such research at a subsequent meeting.
  • Offer suggestions for meeting topics, guest speakers, web sites, and other resources that would be beneficial to our members.
  • End the meeting with the Serenity Prayer, on time at 8:30 P.M.


Will my participation be confidential?

Members of the Bridge to Hope Support Group believe the anonymity of our members and the need for confidentiality is to be respected at all times.  The word, confidentiality, derives from the Latin meaning to keep faith with or to maintain “fidelity” with another person.  In order for families to feel free to share some of the most sensitive and fragile aspects of their lives without fear of judgment, they need to trust that members of the group will protect their information.  Only in this climate of safety can participants begin to unearth or admit the impact of addiction on their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

What is Beyond Bridge to Hope?

Beyond Bridge to HopeSM is a monthly Bereavement Support Group for adult family members who have experienced the death of a loved one due to drug or alcohol abuse. Meetings are held the second Wednesday of the month from 7:00-8:30 PM in the Conference Center of Cumberland Woods Village, an Independent Senior Living Community in McCandless Township. Current Covid protocols are in place:  Masks are required and temperatures are taken upon entrance. They are facilitated by a certified grief counselor, whose specialty has been in the area of bereavement for the past 24 years, Susan Wesner RN, MSN, CS, a retired, former psychiatric clinical nurse specialist at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC. The meetings are free of charge. Beyond Bridge to Hope Bereavement Support Group is an Outreach Program of the Passavant Hospital Foundation and as such is a support organization only and does not offer medical or psychological advice. No registration is necessary. For additional information call: (412) 748-5120.

Bridge to Hope is a support organization only and does not offer medical or psychological advice and is an outreach program the Passavant Hospital Foundation. Web design by Creative Courtney.

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