“My life was a mess. I was lost,” reflects 18 year old Bella. “I was caught up in my ways and was got into trouble.”
Bella was connected to Center For Family Services supportive workplace mentoring program through her probation officer. The STEP program connects youth with a working professional who provides the opportunity for learning based on practical experience. The working professional models behaviors, attitudes, and skills needed for transition from school to employment.
Bella quickly expressed her interest in joining the workforce but one crucial thing stood in her way. Her GED.
Bella had difficulties in school, mostly due to anxiety and stress that paired with her trouble with the law resulted in struggling grades. She needed to finish school but was seeking a nontraditional route.
With the help of Center For Family Services, Bella was paired with a mentor at Hopeworks ‘n Camden, a youth development organization that trains youth in web development, GIS, and Salesforce. In addition to offering solid workplace skills through their internship and training programs, Hopeworks also provides youth the opportunity to finish school.
Bella jumped at the opportunity.
Hopeworks provided her with a tutor from Camden County College who helped her prepare for her GED, at the same time she began interning in their GIS program, working on a team with other youth on a project for American Water.
Along the way, she developed strong relationships with her STEP mentor, Danyelle and several other staff who she also considers mentors. They’ve all helped her to learn, grow, and build confidence.
“My mentors taught me I can do anything I put my mind to. The only thing that holds me back from success is myself.”
Her mentors see a big change too.
“Bella has come a long way,” says one of her mentors, Dana. “Everyone’s journey is different. Bella is learning to own herself and her own strength. We’re all so proud of her.”
In addition to building strong relationships, Bella is building a resume and work experience that she otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
Bella will begin college in 2017 and hopes to pursue a degree in something that will allow her to help kids.
“Now, because of the people supporting me at Center For Family Services and Hopeworks, I believe that I am going somewhere. My change is a direct result of the experiences I’m getting and people who are encouraging me.”