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LifeBridge Leader Brings Skill-Building Message To Westport Sunrise Rotary

Bill Hass speaks before the Westport Sunrise Rotary.
Bill Hass speaks before the Westport Sunrise Rotary. Photo Credit: Mark Mathias

WESTPORT, Conn. — Bill Hass, president and CEO of LifeBridge, a 165-year-old Bridgeport nonprofit that provides a breadth of social services to over 17,000 residents of that city and the surrounding community brought his message recently to Westport Sunrise Rotary.

Hass holds a doctorate in clinical psychology. He is a private practitioner who has long been associated with LifeBridge and its predecessor, Family Services Woodbridge.

Hass was executive director before being named to his current position in 2009.

LifeBridge is operating with a $10.6 million budget. But, as Hass said, with a decline in government funding, despite increasing need, has made private funding and volunteer engagement increasingly essential.

It has a staff of 191, two-thirds of whom are part-time employees. All are focused on “holistic service” to make a “positive impact on the quality of life and economic health of our region.”

Hass told the Rotary that LifeBridge provides four categories of services: Economic Empowerment, Youth Services, Behavioral Health and Social Enterprises.

Economic Empowerment programs are largely focused on WorkSkills services to aid clients in acquiring the “knowledge, skills and resources needed to achieve greater economic self-sufficiency.”

Youth Service programs address the needs of at-risk 14- to 23 -year-olds referred by the state. Clients receive life-skill and economic readiness training, remedial academic support and budget counseling, along with job coaching and access to internship or entry level employment opportunities.

Behavioral Health programs aid adults, children and families by providing tools that strengthen their ability to “cope, adapt, and overcome daily challenges,” including personal and family issues, loss, domestic violence, trauma and unemployment.

LifeBridge’s Social Enterprises include Deaf Outreach and Interpreting and Food Service for low income homebound seniors and disabled people.

In response to a question about volunteering opportunities, Hass said, “We never have enough mentors in our youth program.”

LifeBridge teaches vocational skills certificate programs such as customer service and Microsoft Office. Too often their clients’ academic deficiencies preclude them from beginning those courses, so volunteers provide academic remediation. Similarly, their Workshop in Business Opportunity — WIBO — a 16 week course that teaches people how to start and grow a small business. Here graduates welcome a professional mentor as a sounding board and counselor.

Those interested in learning more about LifeBridge can visit its website .

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