Bridges Winter 2021-2022 Update

December 17, 2021

Gratitude from a Bridges Participant

My representative from Bridges he was helping me out…

He gives me affirmations, letting me know ‘You have this interview on this day’ [and] to dress professional and all that.

He gave me all of my interview questions, so I can prepare for them, so whenever I go to the interview, I’m good.

Bridges Youth Spotlights

Ed P. of San Francisco

Meet Ed P., a recent graduate of Balboa High School in San Francisco. Earlier this year, Ed spent the baseball season working in guest services at Oracle Park for San Francisco Giants’ home games. As the Giants’ season wrapped up, he and his Bridges Employer Representative, Ria Santos, worked together to apply for another job, this one at the Tesla factory in Fremont, a business where Ed really wanted to work.

The commute to Fremont requires a driver’s license, which Ed applied for and got within two weeks. It was well worth the effort: He was hired on November 18th as a Tesla Production Associate. He earns an excellent wage in a job that he enjoys and looks forward to each day.

Ed P. of San Francisco giving the thumbs up sign outside of a Tesla dealership
Ed P. of San Francisco was hired on November 18th as a Tesla Production Associate

Traveon Benjamin of Dallas

As the Great Resignation continues to make headlines, let’s take a moment to celebrate a young man committed to a job he has held since finishing high school.

Traveon Benjamin of Dallas has worked with Aramark Uniform Services for over four years. Traveon’s Aramark tenure is especially impressive when you consider that young adults hold on average five or six different jobs between the ages of 18 and 24, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When Traveon was 20 and a student at Multiple Skills Magnet Center, a Dallas vocational school where he learned how to work in a commercial laundry, he enrolled in Bridges. Bridges personnel knew that Traveon would be an ideal candidate for a job at Aramark Uniform Services, where he would work as part of a large team that loads, sorts, washes, dries, and presses tons of laundry processed at the facility every day.

Dallas Bridges Director Rob Mollard says “Traveon is one of the best workers Aramark Uniform Services has ever seen. He uses DART public transit for his daily commutes to the Aramark facility near Love Field, and he never misses a day of work. He has accumulated so much paid time off that his supervisor recently made him take a vacation.”

Now 25, Traveon is a seasoned Aramark team member, working full-time with benefits and earning a competitive salary that makes a significant difference in his family’s overall household income. Traveon even helps train and orient new Aramark employees, showing them how to navigate the large warehouse facility that processes truckloads of laundry from area hospitals, universities, and cafeterias. “Traveon is such an asset that Aramark has recently hired another participant from the Bridges program,” says Mollard

Traveon Benjamin of Dallas smiling in his Aramark Uniform Services uniform
Traveon Benjamin of Dallas has worked with Aramark Uniform Services for over four years.

Demetrius Terrell of Philadelphia

It’s rare to find a 30-year-old who has worked with the same company for 11 years. One such young man is Demetrius Terrell, who enrolled in Bridges when he was a student at Murrell Dobbins High School in Philadelphia. He was in the culinary arts program there, but his real interest was fashion design, an ambition others didn’t encourage or take seriously.

Soon after Demetrius enrolled, Bridges helped him connect to—and prove himself—in two part-time retail jobs in high school, one in a grocery store and another in a sneaker shop. Neither came close to his vision of working at Saks Fifth Avenue, but he recognized the wisdom of his Bridges Employer Representative, who explained that he had to build a résumé with retail experience before he could compete for the types of jobs he really wanted.

After he graduated from high school in 2010, his Bridges Employer Representative helped him get a job stocking housekeeping supplies at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia’s Center City. Demetrius appreciated the job, but working behind the scenes in a hotel didn’t allow Demetrius’s personality to shine. Demetrius wanted to work in a customer-facing position, so he summoned his considerable ambition and tenacity to apply three times before he was selected for the full-time job he now holds as a Front Desk Agent at this historic property located in the heart of Philadelphia’s shopping and arts district.

When he’s not assisting hotel guests and getting rave reviews on Trip Advisor, he works as a designer and fashion stylist for photo shoots. His creations have appeared on the runways of Philadelphia Fashion Week and in major fashion magazines.

His “passion for fashion” came naturally, probably from the influence of his grandmother, a parental figure who inspired his drive to succeed. She was a skilled seamstress and role model, a stabilizing and positive force in his life.

Demetrius studied fashion design at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. He now sells a line of apparel and accessories on his very own website.

Demetrius says he gets encouragement from hotel colleagues and guests alike in his dream to be a famous designer. Lessons learned from his work with Ritz-Carlton have influenced his approach to starting his own business, including the importance of branding, image, and reputation. After more than a decade with Ritz-Carlton, his commitment to service, professionalism, and integrity are second nature to Demetrius. They imbue and inform his approach to establishing himself as a designer, stylist, and influencer.

Demetrius Terrell of Philadelphia smiling in a black suit and tie
Demetrius Terrell of Philadelphia has worked at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia’s Center City for over a decade and now holds a full-time job as a Front Desk Agent.

Our New Chicago Bridges Director

Aubree Weiley, our new Chicago Bridges director as of October 18th, brings an impressive domestic and international background in non-profit management, K-12 programming, fundraising, and program evaluation.

Aubree comes to us from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where she serves on the faculty of the Peabody Institute. Aubree was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa and a Sistema Fellow in Venezuela, Brazil, and Peru. In addition to her native English, she speaks Spanish, Sesotho, and German.

Aubree earned her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a graduate certificate in Arts and Social Development from the New England Conservatory. We are delighted to have Aubree as part of our Bridges leadership team.

Aubree Weiley
Aubree Weiley is our new Chicago Bridges director.

Did You Know?

What began in 1990 as a pilot program serving a handful of special education students in Montgomery County, MD is now in 12 major cities serving over 200
high schools every year. Bridges from School to Work (Bridges) has exceeded all expectations for sustainability, growth, and expansion.

Legacy funding from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, named for the founders of Marriott International, has been instrumental to our growth, expansion, and sustainability. But early Bridges support also came from another private funder, the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF). MEAF invests in innovative strategies to empower youth with disabilities to lead productive lives.

A current grant from MEAF is supporting Bridges from School to Work’s participation in a national study. This is the fifth grant that MEAF has awarded Bridges over the years. We are grateful to MEAF for believing in our work when Bridges first began and for continuing to believe in it today.

Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation