HOLMDEL, N.J. - On June 7 at 9A.M., Bell Works took advantage of a fantastic opportunity just launched through the Holmdel School District's STRIVE program.

STRIVE, originally designed in 2008 by Holmdel educators and community members, stands for Student Transition Readiness for Independent Vocational Experience. STRIVE was initially designed for work internships within the school. Now, they entered the business community in a big, 1.7 million square foot, way.

Children in the STRIVE program navigate their world with a grace and poise that few possess. Their proud parents see, every day, their exceptionalism. Bell Works does too.

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Bell Works immediately embraced  the vision, the opportunity and had the savvy to start three new teenage interns from the STRIVE program in their incoming mail logistics area and hospitality operations. "We are thrilled to be initiating this first partnership with Bell Works" said Holmdel Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert McGarry.

It's no surprise that cutting edge Bell Works partners with cutting edge Holmdel. It just required the extra touch in bringing them together. That was Township Committeeman Eric Hinds.

According to Holmdel School District Transition Coordinator Doreen Riegel, "What has been especially wonderful is how the township has embraced our goals and included us in their vision. Committeeman Eric Hinds has offered us assistance in making the necessary community contacts and has been dedicated to helping us achieve our goal. He brought in Robert Ward (Holmdel High School Alumni and Recreation Director) and others who have been instrumental in our community program development. Eric set up the initial meeting with Pat Garofalo, who is part of the management team at Bell Works.  We now have three students involved in job sampling experiences".

They expect to expand the opportunity moving forward by about another 10 students due the success, work ethic and the positivity brought to bear by three entrepreneurial teenagers who, with the advisors, are charting the path forward.

Doreen Riegal serves along with Meryl Gill and many other dedicated school staff. Said Riegal,   "We have expanded our learning to community settings for those students who learn best through hands-on experiences in natural settings. Many students with moderate level disabilities acquire skills best when they practice them in natural settings. These talented students will then have the skills necessary to be lifelong learners who have determination to reach their dreams", she stated.

The understatement of the year.

"Several of the new businesses at Bell Works have offered support and we are hoping to expand our opportunity to all of the businesses housed at Bell Works and beyond". Said Reigel. She continued, "Holmdel's Recreation Director, Robert Ward is working with us to design summer camp counselor positions as well as new fall programs where our students will be involved with programs at the Senior Center. Eric Hinds is also working on additional business contacts such as the new Sloan-Kettering facility and other local businesses. 

According to Committeeman Hinds, "We are more than a community. We are a family. These initiatives speak to the reason we are in public service. It's a wonderful obligation as a town official and a joy as a father to facilitate partnerships for the children with the business and school teams in town"

Bell Works and local talent are clearly a perfect combination.

The students were not available for a quote by press time. They were too busy working at Bell Works, doing homework like everyone else - and planning their next moves!