FOUR STATES AREA — One woman has been a guiding light for people across our community as they pull themselves out of poverty.
The Building Bridges Organization touts so many success stories thanks to this evening’s remarkable woman nominee, Ellen Vogt — or as they call her — just Elle.
It’s a Monday morning and Elle Vogt is already sifting through the papers. She’s in charge of building bridges — an organization that helps people get out of poverty.
Ellen “Elle” Vogt, remarkable woman nominee, “we walk alongside. We’re not a hand up, we’re not a hand out, we are a hand across. So we take people who are 200% below the poverty line. You have to apply to the program. Not everybody gets in. You have to really want to change your life.”
The organization connects people in the program — who they call “leaders” — with resources like the job center so they can find a job, bankers so they can learn how to budget, and the community clinic so they can get proper healthcare. And she’s there for any leader who needs her at any time of day.
“This is giving back on a different kind of level. I mean, you can hear my phone, it’s an all day, every day being part of their continuous journey.”
In the past, Elle found fulfillment as a victim’s advocate at a prosecutor’s office and a social worker at a hospital, but this — this — is her purpose.
“They give back. That’s what changes, that’s what ends poverty. It’s those people that stay. They give back. They become the hero in somebody else’s story.”
When building bridges asked her to helm the ship back in 2019, she knew she could bring a unique perspective.
“Growing up the way that I did, I grew up in foster care and children’s homes and they don’t teach you how to be an adult. They don’t teach you how to budget or finance. They don’t teach you healthy relationships.”
As a mom at just 17 years old, Elle knew social capital — or the people around us — were the key to helping the community succeed.
“I had amazing, just phenomenal teachers, and people who stepped up in my life. I realized really early that that was so important. And that’s what this program is completely based on, social capital.”
And, in return, she works each and everyday to be a light to someone else.
“You know, I met the sweetest girl, the sweetest girl at a college career fair.”
Eliza Grace, friend, said, “I came upon her table and I was just immediately drawn to her. She was so kind and I just felt that immediately.”
Eliza grace met Elle that day and remembers how Elle’s passion changed her entire life — they’ve since had an unbreakable bond.
“When she walks into a room, you notice her, and you feel the love that she just emanates.”
“It just was one kind word, at the right moment at the right time, and it changed my world just as much as it changed hers,” said Vogt.
“She’s always the first one that anybody can call if they have any issues. She’s always got an answer,” said grace.
And, if she doesn’t have the answer, she refers back to one of her favorite quotes — “Just stand up.”
“You have food stamps, and you’re just, you feel miserable. And you’re sad, and you don’t want this life. All you gotta do is stand up,” said Vogt.