Michael is the second oldest of four children from a single parent house hold of Haitian decent. He had been in trouble with the law and was referred to Eckerd Connects Project Bridge as part of his probation. After speaking with Michael during their initial meeting, Eckerd Connects’ Transition Coordinator Derrell Hand could tell that this young man wanted nothing to do with the program and was even skeptical of the possibility of being successful.  Derrell knew it would take a lot of encouragement and patience to get Michael to change his point of view.

After multiple attempts of each staff member to get him engaged, Michael finally gave in and started to pay attention in class. After his first full week of engagement, the teen was surprised how much he liked learning from staff members at Project Bridge. Michael then altered his entire attitude and decided to make a positive life change for the sake of his family and himself.

While in Project Bridge, Michael was able to complete Vocational Training and obtain a certification in customer service. This led him to finding employment with Aeropostale, a teen retail clothing company.  Michael was able to take the skills he learned at Project Bridge and matched them with his winning personality; he blew the manager away during the interview and was hired less than a week later!

Michael’s confidence soared after that, and he decided he wanted to continue earning certifications. He started spending even more time at the Project Bridge facility. Michael was eventually discharged from the program after completing all his goals on his Individualized service plan, but the youth was not satisfied. Even though he no longer had to participate in any of the community service projects, Michael asked to be part of a volunteer community renovation project with The Missions Continues and an architectural design company called Trevi Design. While at the event, the owner of Trevi Design took the opportunity to get know the kids volunteering, and Michael again left a lasting impression.  Both the owner and manager of Trevi Design took an immediate interest in Michael’s future and they have offered him an opportunity to work for their company doing small projects.

Unfortunately, with this great news came what could have been a devastating blow to Michael’s confidence − his family was evicted from their apartment! However, Michael was determined to remain positive and was even able to help his mother and family put down a deposit on a new apartment.

Because of his great attitude and willingness to remain engage with the program, Project Bridge has offered to pay for his Driver’s License, which will help him commute to job sites. Staff will also help Michel identify new opportunities for himself as he prepares to graduate high school in the next three months. Derrell Hand commented that there is nothing that can hold this hardworking and optimistic young man back from success!