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Pearls of Wisdom: Steffi Reyes-Thomas

February 28, 2018

More than 10 years ago, Steffi entered Bridge Communities as a teenager with her mom and younger brother, after becoming homeless. At the time, their family was recovering from the deportation of her father as well as the death of her grandmother.

“At a young age, I was jaded,” Steffi remembers. “Well before I had any bills in my name, I was worried about how we were going to pay them. I grew up understanding that nothing was free, and that everyone wanted to nickel and dime us.”

 But, when they came into the safety of their Bridge apartment, and were connected to their mentors, that’s when her perspective began to change. “They constantly helped with the tedious parts of life,” she says. “Our mentor Sally really taught my whole family how to be adults and handle the paperwork that goes on behind the scenes. What I learned was invaluable. And Bridge made it possible for me to trust again.”

 Having the stability of Bridge was key for Steffi. She excelled in high school and after graduating, went on to earn a BFA in Interior Architecture and Design from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. A decade after their time with Bridge Communities, Steffi’s mom is still living independently, and Steffi has gone on to embark on an amazing career. “Today, I am a Designer of Sustainable Interior Architecture in San Diego, California,” says Steffi. “We practice commercial design, and we recently picked up a new residential business. My job is the perfect balance of creativity and technical ability. I live very close to the beach and I just started surfing, too!”

 Steffi carries the lessons forward with her and appreciates all that Bridge supporters have made possible for her family. “Bridge Communities is absolutely changing how people bounce back from financial and emotional pitfalls. They do it in the most sustainable method in that they educate the participants every step of the way. They also provide day-to-day emotional support.  Bridge never asked for us to repay them for anything during the program, and I thank all the donors for their support. Without them, I don’t know where we would have ended up.”

 In 2017, Bridge Communities honored Steffi with the Life Transformed Award at our Celebrating Women, Transforming Lives Spring Luncheon, in honor of her strength and success. “I couldn’t get through the thank you section of my speech without waterworks. After the speech, many of the women thanked me for being true to myself despite my tears. It meant so much to me to be honored, and I can guarantee that momentum will stay with me forever.” 

 

Special thanks to 30th Anniversary Committee Members Lisa Sallwasser and Geoff Bevington, and to our 30th Anniversary Media Sponsor Compass Mortgage!

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