BridgeBuilders WORK

Mr. Lee and Ms. Busse

Mom and Dad. That’s what the students, and our staff, like to call them.

One of the more unique aspects of BridgeBuilders is our training team. While the BridgeBuilders WORK program takes many moving parts to be successful, none are more important than William Lee and Julie Busse.

mrleeTogether William and Julie provide life skills training and support for many people who have rarely or never seen encouragement or support. Mr. Lee and Ms. Busse are unique, however, in how they perfectly complement one another.

Mr. Lee provides tough love. Without sacrificing encouragement, he tells students what they need to hear, messages to challenge them, to push them to achieve more than they’ve ever achieved.

His Army background apparent, Mr. Lee commands the respect of the room. But he’s not just a drill sergeant. He has developed a unique curriculum exclusive to BridgeBuilders, which teaches students the relationships vital to their lives: with God, self, others, and creation.

familyIn a near perfect complement, Ms. Busse takes a nurturing role with her students. Her background in special education perfectly suits her to provide the nurturing support students need. The vital needs of encouragement and support are met through Ms. Busse’s teaching and demeanor.

Together, Mr. Lee and Ms. Busse provide the opposite, yet complementary, needs of the students in our program: both the discipline and the encouragement, and together they are helping build a strong, holistic, successful life skills and vocational training course.


FAQ: What is an Ally?

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Today’s FAQ Blog is about Allies. As a part of BridgeBuilders WORK Life Skills and Employment Training, each student is paired with an ally to be an encouragement through the process. Laura Fechner, the director of our ally program, is helping us answer a few questions… What is an ally? An ally is an adult who walks alongside an employment training student for 4-5 weeks, to encourage and support them in this new endeavor in their life.

Valentino&KenWhat are the expectations of an ally? To meet with their student weekly for lunch, to form a friendship with them during that time. The desire and hope is that it becomes a lasting friendship that goes beyond the five-week training course. Also, allies should plan to attend volunteer orientation and the student’s graduation.

We also require allies to be like-minded in their beliefs with BridgeBuilders, because ultimately through this process we want to see these students find a relationship with the Lord. What do you say to the person who is nervous about becoming an ally? If you can befriend someone who is different than you and has a different lifestyle in a different culture, then you can be an ally. It’s simply walking alongside someone, in order to be an encourager.

Alice&AngelaTell me what an ally is NOT… An ally is not an evangelist, an ally is not a financial resource, an ally is not a professional counselor, and an ally is not a pastor. An ally is simply a friend and encourager.

What does this commitment entail? A new ally will attend a 90-minute volunteer orientation on the third Saturday of a month. After that you’ll be matched with a student in one of our classes according to a list of criteria on the application. For example, we match men with men, women with women, maybe we’ll match you based on shared characteristics like children or age, just so there is some sort of common bond.

After being matched, you would come to our West Dallas offices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday for an hour to have lunch once a week during the five-week course. If you come on a Tuesday or Thursday, BridgeBuilders provides lunch, otherwise you would need to bring lunch for both of you, or take your ally out to eat. On the last Friday of their curriculum you will definitely want to attend the graduation.

What is your ongoing need for allies? We need MANY allies. We are ramping up our training program and hoping to have more students than ever, so we need new and fresh allies who want to build these relationships. This is a very important service we provide for these students, many of whom simply need consistent encouragement.

If you have interest in becoming an ally or have more questions, email Laura at lfechner@hisbridgebuilders.org or click here.

BridgeBuilders WORK, Community Staffing, and the VA

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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 (right) with another recent BridgeBuilders WORK graduate

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.

Charles at graduation with one another friend from the VA

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.