William’s enthusiasm and determination were evident from the first meeting with him. It was clear that he had a plan of action that he was determined to carry out. With his living circumstances always subject to change, William, who prefers to be called Billy, was nevertheless determined not to let anything get in the way of his success. Of course, our focus was on seeing that he had the tools and support he needed to do just that. We knew that working with Billy would be exciting because there was no holding him back.
When he began with Eckerd Kids’ Project Bridge, Billy’s first priority was to find employment. He submitted several applications to local businesses, but was not immediately contacted for an interview. Undiscouraged, Billy remained on task and a week into his job search he was hired at Cracker Barrel simply by sharing his story with the staff there. Impressed by his confidence and determination, Billy was given an impromptu interview with both the manager and general manager who were so impressed with his presentation they hired him on the spot. Despite taking over an hour to get to work by bus, Billy continued to maintain his work schedule and was never late for work. The Cracker Barrel staff was impressed with Billy, describing him, as being an amazing, respectful young man.
An example of Billy’s foresight and self-motivation was that within weeks after entering Project Bridge, Billy earned three certifications: OSHA Forklift, OSHA Back Safety, and OSHA Landscaping, passing each certification exam with 100 percent. Billy presented his philosophy of life as being to be prepared at all levels so that whatever the situation, he has everything he needs to succeed.
Billy pointed out, however, that his greatest ambition has been to go back to college. Billy expressed interest in a number of different fields, e.g., Microbiology, Biochemistry, Marine Biology or Nursing. Billy stated that his plan is to go into independent living in the summer he turns 18. Once settled, Billy stated that he will enroll at the Eastern Florida State College campus closest to him.
While at Project Bridge, Billy cooperated with his Transition Coordinator to address areas of deficit learning and/or experience by participating in life skill activities. Billy was able to relate the various subject areas to things he had experienced personally and to draw from them the understanding and knowledge he needs to move forward.
As a result of the difficult circumstances of his life, over time Billy has developed an attitude of stubborn determination. But, he also understands when to let things go. Billy’s ability to discern when best to use one approach or the other says a great deal about his level of maturity and resilience. Billy is willing to work hard for the things he wants and understands what is required to reach his goals. Those of us who have worked with Billy, cannot help but admire the way in which he approaches the various challenges of his life. There is no doubt that Billy will succeed at whatever he chooses to pursue.