project bridge beach picnic
Eddie (second to left) at a Project Bridge beach picnic. 
Faces of other Project Bridge participants are obscured to protect privacy.

Eckerd Kids is the first name in second chances, and for Eddie that is exactly what he needed. Eddie was a re-admit to Eckerd Kids’ Project Bridge transitions program after quickly obtaining a new charge during his first two weeks of enrollment. However, Eddie was determined to take full advantage of his second chance and prove to not only his family but most importantly to himself that regardless of the obstacles in front of him success was in his future.

While initially resistant and quiet, Eddie actively participated in all events and community service projects. Eddie attended two Project Bridge BBQ’s, a Ray’s game, sports night at the Tampa office, Grady’s MMA and The Ultimate Stomping Ground. With each event, Eddie began to open up with staff and discuss his past and desire to learn from mistakes while becoming a better man. At only 16, Eddie has lived on his own in an abandoned house, seen his friends get arrested and been committed to two juvenile justice programs.  This withstanding, when asked what about the potential of returning back to his old ways and the pressure from peers to do so Eddie said, “they know if they come at me with that stuff we are going to have to fade.” Fortunately, Eddie’s desire to change was apparent to all, and there was significant support in place to help him reach his goals.

During his time with Project Bridge, Eddie enrolled his community school and currently maintains a 2.5 GPA and his on track to obtain a high school diploma. Eddie also obtained employment and earned a SafeStaff® certification. Eddie’s determination and leadership was also recognized by Grady’s MMA who awarded the youth a $50 gift certificate to their clothing store for completing the Project Bridge program. Eddie proudly wore a Grady’s sweatshirt home that night.

Eddie is the perfect representation of a young man that needed support and a second chance; luckily, Project Bridge was there to provide both. In fact, during the Project Bridge Back to School BBQ Eddie decided to give a speech to close the day where he discussed his past, present and future and the role Project Bridge played during this process. All the staff at Project Bridge is so proud of Eddie and look forward to his continued success in the community and achievement of all his goals.