SUMMIT, NJ - Two Summit-based institutions -- Bridges Outreach and Reeves-Reed Arboretum -- with a combined history spanning more than 70 years, have partnered this summer to create a 'job readiness pilot program' that trains vetted homeless candidates in basic gardening and facilities management skills at the Arboretum.
Upon successful completion of the program, the Arboretum vendors will work together in seeking job interviews and possible placement as the ultimate goal.
“Reeves-Reed Arboretum is honored to partner with this extraordinary organization, and to use horticulture and nature to help people seeking second-chance opportunities,” says Reeves-Reed Arboretum Executive Director, Frank Juliano. Currently, the Arboretum staff is working with Stanley Simms.
According to Lois Bhatt, Executive Director of Bridges Outreach, “The reasons for his (Stanley) current situation aren’t as important as his willingness to learn to work on a team. The obvious intent of this program is to foster employment, to ‘cultivate people’, and to act as a ‘Bridge’ to a new life. Mr. Simms is a wonderful fit for the Arboretum. He has already proven himself to be invaluable to the staff and helpful to the visitors.”
In Stanley’s own words, “I am so grateful for the opportunity and I’m very, very happy here (at Reeves-Reed Arboretum). The staff came out to greet me on my first day and that made me feel very special. I planted a patch of flowers and the next day, as I walked past them, I felt a true sense of belonging – like I might be part of a new family.”