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Bridge Opened the Door to a New Future

December 8, 2009

Written by: Margo Matthew

Not long ago Channel decided it was time to close the doors on a troubled home life and open new doors to hopefully a better future.  Growing up in a culture of drug abuse and the adults in her life making poor decisions, she never felt safe or secure.  Moving around with her parents until they divorced when she was 15, Channel had no sense of any home stability.

Channel always knew that an education was the route out of poverty; so even without the support of her family Channel went to a local community college and worked part-time.  Channel became a mother at the young age of only eighteen.  But she continued to attend college and work.  During this time her baby girl, Chanaya, and her lived with her mother.  But that situation was fraught with drug abuse and violence and Channel quickly realized that her baby and her had to move a more stable environment.

As a teenage mother, Channel qualified to enroll in the Wheaton Youth Outreach.  Channel looks back at this time as a positive experience as she was able to continue to go to school and learn basic parenting and independent living skills.  At the age of 22 Channel and Chanaya were graduated from the Wheaton Youth Outreach program, but she still had more schooling to complete and did not earn a wage that would adequately support the two of them.  So Channel was referred to Bridge Communities.

Channel entered the Bridge Program under-employed and with few support systems.  She had recently ended her relationship with Chanaya’s father and her own family continued their drug abuse and unstable life-style.  But Channel had hope and great determination that she could provide a bright future for her three year old daughter.

She never wanted her daughter, Chanaya to ever feel the way she did as a child growing up.  Channel has always strived to help Chanaya feel secure at home and teach that she can do anything she wants in life.

When Channel entered the Bridge program she began to work with mentors, Jennifer and Tom from Corpus Christie Church in Carol Stream.  They taught her to budget and learn to save, while at the same time they nurtured her self esteem and helped her with parenting tips for Chanaya.

Through the support and guidance of her mentors and the Program, Channel truly achieved self sufficiency. Channel saw what her mentors had achieved in their lives through hard work and a strong education.  She also learned that “even middle class people have to budget.” Her mentors encouraged her to begin saving through her 401(k) savings plan and helped her to set up a college savings for Chanaya. Channel is proud to share that, “My mentors even learned from me. They told me they admired my dedication and determination on meeting my goals.”

Bridge employment director, Patty Kelly encouraged Channel to take the Career Vision Aptitude and Assessment Tests, to determine her strengths and skills in order to pursue the best suited career direction.  Together they worked on her resume writing and interviewing skills.  Bridge also connected her to a tutor and at her request helped her become a better mother working one-on-one on parenting skills with education coordinator, Barbara Trczinski.

She continued attendance at the local community college and graduated with an Associate in Arts degree with a certificate in Criminal Justice. Channel now works full-time and recently received her second promotion to become a senior service representative.  She said it is stressful, but very rewarding.  She feels a great sense of accomplishment when she achieves her goals.  In her free time, she volunteers at a local police department.  Channel shares, “I started to believe in myself again, I began to have a little self confidence.  I can do things for myself I never thought possible.”

Karen Stewart, Channel’s case manager is so proud of her and how much she has overcome and accomplished.  Karen shares, “Channel was the first in her family to go to college.  She welcomed guidance and mentoring to learn how she could best live her life. She is now a young woman who has achieved her goal of self sufficiency and will move forward to a better life”

“Bridge Communities taught me that people do care and are always willing to help me. My mentors and case manager provided us with a sense of family,” Channel shares with sincerity and thankfulness, “I found Bridge and after that it was pretty much open doors.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 9, 2009 9:15 am

    This is a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it, and thanks for the work you do with families in our community.

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