Triumph Over Tragedy, At-Risk Youth Turn Their Lives Around and Share Lessons Learned with Peers

At nine years old, Jamie was breaking into homes to steal money. Anna was stealing cars and taking part in other illegal activity that would earn her fast money. They are just two of six youth who admittedly made mistakes when they were younger and have managed to turn their lives around thanks to Eckerd Connects’ Project Bridge, a program that helps troubled youth transition from the juvenile justice system back into their home communities.

On November 3, GTE Financial will recognize all six youth at a leadership banquet where they will speak to their peers about their past, and now, their much brighter future. The event takes place at 11:30 a.m. at GTE Financial (711 E Henderson Ave., Tampa).

“We’re so proud of these youth for not only learning from their past but making the right choice to get back on track with their lives and use their experiences to help others,” said Brian Best, CEO of GTE Financial. “We commend their efforts and the strength it takes to recover from a difficult past. We are especially honored to support Eckerd Connects and all it does for the families and children in our community.”

Project Bridge was developed in partnership with the State of Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to serve youth in Central and South Florida. At the event, Best will share advice and offer his personal insight about what it takes to be a leader and make a difference.

“These are young people who have worked extremely hard to leave the past behind and start a new chapter in their lives,” said Curtis Campogni, program manager for Eckerd Connects’ Project Bridge. “Eckerd Connects’ Project Bridge program strives to help them achieve stable and successful lives and reduce recidivism. We’re thrilled to partner with GTE Financial to spotlight some of the remarkable success stories that we see unfolding every single day.”

Watch the full story as it appeared on CBS Affiliate in St. Petersburg, Florida WTSP-TV.