Sarah Conner is the VP of Programs at BridgeBuilders, including the BridgeBuilders WORK life skill and vocational training.
Vocational training meets a specific need…just in time.
The main thing for us at the VA is we don’t want them sitting idle. If they sit idle, it’s a great potential for relapse.
Marlon Bradford, Veterans Affairs' Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, has recently become a good friend of ours here at BridgeBuilders, working for the VA office and frequently helping those he works with find much-needed life skills and vocational training through BridgeBuilders WORK.
One such client at the VA is Charles Moore. While dealing with the stress of being deployed in Afghanistan, Charles turned to substances, reaching the point of addiction.
“I got introduced to a lot of drugs and alcohol when I was in the Army,” says Charles. “I got addicted and I couldn’t hold a job for a long time. I was always drinking and drugging.”
“Charles came to the VA a couple months ago, and has participated in all the programs to maintain his sobriety,” said Marlon of Charles’ improvement. “After completion of those programs, we began the process of looking for employment.”
Marlon asked Charles three questions: What do you like to do? What do you want to do? What do you have the skill set to do?
“He said, ‘I love cooking.’ And that he has a passion and a desire to be in the kitchen. We tried to get him in through some temporary agencies, but we found out how unprepared he was.”
Marlon had an idea, what about working at a hotel?
After suggesting the idea and explaining the program and the possibility of working in a hotel kitchen, Charles agreed to head to BridgeBuilders.
Upon completion of BridgeBuilders WORK, graduating just a few weeks ago, through our partnership with Community Staffing Services, he immediately went to work in the kitchen at the Omni Hotel in Dallas. Beginning as a steward, he has the opportunity to work his way up the ladder.
“The BridgeBuilders program has helped me be more confident. I was discouraged when I first came into the program,” Charles recalls. “I had a hard time finding a job, now I feel more encouraged, more confident in myself. I’ve learned how to be more successful, how to block out negative people, stay away from negative people, that aren’t looking out for my best interest.”
In addition to working in the Omni kitchen, Charles is also pursuing the next step in his journey, going to culinary school to pursue becoming a chef, and possibly working in hotel hospitality.
“I am very excited about his graduation, and the completion of the program,” says Marlon. “Everyone at the VA has noticed a change in his attitude, as well as his aptitude, and his willingness to be engaged.”
We're so thankful for partners like the VA and Community Staffing Services, which labor together with us to take individuals to the next level in their process of transformation.