NewBridge seeks to transform the lives of economically disadvantaged youth and adults in Greater Cleveland. For youth, NewBridge provides cutting-edge after-school arts programs in ceramics, digital photography, film, graphic design and music at no cost to those who qualify. For adults, NewBridge offers adult career training programs that prepare graduates for in-demand, market-based careers at no cost to those that qualify. Currently, new bridge offers a Pharmacy Technician Program (38 weeks) and a Phlebotomy Technician Training Program (14 weeks) for adults.
Tyeishia, 24 years old with a two year old daughter, had slept on a mattress at a different home every night for more than a year because she had no money for a place of her own. She felt hopeless, stuck earning $8 an hour at a local photo shop and barely paying her bills. Unfortunately, Tyeishia lacked the skills or experience to change the pattern of living paycheck to paycheck.
But then she heard about NewBridge. Finding about this opportunity “saved my life,” she said, adding that the fact our courses are free meant she could move toward a career without going into debt.
But her challenges did not end there. Tyeishia had trouble passing the basic skills test needed to become a student. But NewBridge made sure that she had the help she needed to overcome this obstacle. Using our free tutoring and refresher training, Tyeishia finally passed the test.
She made it clear, during the interview process, that NewBridge was a lifeline for her. “My life depends on this,” she said, as she could not support herself and her daughter on minimum wage jobs. “I need a career and I need it now.”
Unfortunately, even after acceptance into the program, she still faced other obstacles. Even though NewBridge is free, she still needed to work to pay her bills and support her daughter. But doing so, as well as taking classes and taking care of her toddler, left her exhausted. According to Tyeishia, she was so tired that she had trouble staying awake during class.
But that’s where NewBridge’s supportive, nurturing environment came into play as her classmates and teacher provided her with the support she needed to make it through to graduation. “We were a family. We all loved each other, looked out for each other, including bringing food when others didn’t have it,” Tyeishia says. Also, her teacher brought her free bus passes when her car broke down so that she could get to and from class.
Tyeishia learned now only how to be a phlebotomist, but also how to be a professional, using the technical skills and workplace skills that NewBridge makes a central part of our program. Her skills only increased during the externship that NewBridge provides as part of an agreement with University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth. “I became one with the needle,” Tyeishia joked. This training and experience put her in demand and she just landed a job with the Cleveland Clinic.
Now, not only is Tyeishia saving up money to get her own apartment, but she has the time to be a much greater part of her daughter’s life. Beforehand she only had the time to feed her daughter and put her to bed each night, but that’s no longer the case.
NewBridge changed her entire perspective, Tyeishia said. After our program, “I felt like I was going to be okay,” Tyeishia said, adding “I wasn’t drowning anymore.”