Bob Auge is the warehouse supervisor for Bridging in Bloomington.Â
The first time Bob Auge came to Bridging was with his church youth group. â€œIt was one of the more fun volunteer jobs that we did,â€ he said. â€œI always wanted to go back. About 10 years later, I was working as the assistant warehouse manager at a pool chemical company. I had a newborn son, so I was looking for something cleaner and more rewarding. I found this place called Bridging, and I thought it sounded familiar.â€
He interviewed for a warehouse management job at Bridging, but lost to someone with more experience. They offered him a general warehouse position with the chance to move up. Auge took the job at a pay cut. â€œIt was a leap of faith, but it resonated that good people are getting together and doing good things on a daily basis. It was an easy choice to make,â€ he said. He moved quickly into a lead driver position, handling donation pickups and deliveries, and then into his current role.
â€œIt was really fortunate it happened like that,â€ Auge said. â€œIf Iâ€™d gotten the job right away, it would have been overwhelming. Itâ€™s not just inventory of things â€” itâ€™s things, people, places, time.â€
Bridging provides donated furniture and household items to people transitioning out of homelessness and poverty. â€œWe provide 75 bed sets a week at a bare-bones minimum,â€ Auge said. â€œWe provide 56 sofas. At the end of last year, we had served 70,000 families.â€
After two years at Bridging, Auge said, â€œIâ€™ve had jobs that I liked â€” either it was an easy job or I liked the people I worked with. This is the first job Iâ€™ve really loved. I used to say, â€˜A bad day fishing is always better than a good day at work.â€™ Thatâ€™s not really true any more. Theyâ€™re pretty even.â€
Whatâ€™s a typical day?
It all depends on the weather and the day of the week and how many people show up at the door. Weâ€™re accepting donations six days a week and delivering four of the six. I tell volunteers I never ask them to do things I havenâ€™t done or wouldnâ€™t do. Iâ€™m only behind my desk for a short period of time. I prefer to work hands on. I build better relationships that way. I like to stay in the warehouse, but when needed, I will do deliveries and pickups.
Whatâ€™s the best part of your job?
The greatest part about my job is the people I work with. We have over 700 regular scheduled returning volunteers and 2,000 individual group volunteers a year from churches and corporations. Thatâ€™s on top of eight staff members at my location right now.
Whatâ€™s the biggest challenge?
Juggling it all. When it starts getting cold a lot of volunteers move to Arizona and Florida. Intake moves down â€” you donâ€™t want to move a couch or furniture in December. We have to plan accordingly throughout the year. We always say we need three things: Money, muscle and your stuff. Everybody has at least one; some people have more.
Did you know you were suited for nonprofit work?
I grew up in a middle-income family. I was a little spoiled. But when I ventured out on my own, I realized thereâ€™s more than money and possessions. I didnâ€™t know that when I was in the church youth group â€” I wasnâ€™t there by choice.
Photo Credit: Tom Witta