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Pay It Forward: Mona Ash is 'Building Bridges' to a better life

Mona Ash has helped hundreds of people get their life on track. This is why she is this week's Pay It Forward award winner.

BURLINGTON, Iowa — Breaking down barriers and building bridges is the mission of one Burlington, Iowa, woman, all in an effort to help those less fortunate.

Heidi Quinn said Mona Ash helped her find her voice in the world. 

"Mona is a walking angel in my eyes," said Quinn. "Everything that she does for everyone, for the less fortunate."

Mona is the program director at Building Bridges, an organization that works to better the lives of people who may otherwise be caught in the daily struggles of poverty. Organizers accomplish their goal through the partnerships with businesses, organizations, clubs, health care professionals, law enforcement and educators. 

A big center piece for keeping the mission going every day is the program director herself.

Mona teaches an 18-week course about everything from budgeting tools to social queues in conversations. It's part of what Building Bridges calls the 11 resources people need to live a sustainable life.

Those resources include:

  • Financial.
  • Emotional.
  • Mental.
  • Spiritual.
  • Physical.
  • Social (networking).
  • Knowledge of hidden rules.
  • Relationships/role models.
  • Language.
  • Motivation and persistence.
  • Integrity and trust.

Mona and her team do everything they can to remove the barriers so nothing stands in the way of bettering their life. That includes offering transportation, meals and child care when needed.

"She gives me the push. You know, she gives me the confidence and she cares … no judgement," said Quinn.

❤️ Bridges is community working together to come alongside our neighbors who are struggling. ❤️We break down barriers...

Posted by Building Bridges A Southeast Iowa Initiative on Tuesday, February 8, 2022

To date, Mona and her team have helped hundreds of people as young as 18 and as old as 80. She is giving a voice to hundreds of people by building bridges to a brighter future.

The end goal is to help people get ahead, and stay ahead in a "just getting by" world. The people at Building Bridges say, "Building Bridges is not a program. It focuses on getting to know one another as we work together to create a sustainable community in which all people get to write their future stories."

Mona said she plans to donate the $300 Pay It Forward reward to the Building Bridges Benevolent fund to keep paying it forward to people in need.

News 8 and Ascentra Credit Union are looking for the next Pay It Forward award winner. If you know someone who is going above and beyond in their community, nominate them here