2023  Alumni Excellence Award Winner

Preston was introduced to Steepletown shortly after he became a resident of Covenant House Grand Rapids, a transitional living center for young adults. At that time, Preston and the CHGR team were unable to find worksites that met Preston’s interests and abilities. So a meeting between Preston and the JobStart Case Manager was scheduled to discuss the intention and opportunities of enrolling into programming. Preston was immediately interested in the paid work experience offered through JobStart because the hands-on work of landscaping was something he felt very confident and familiar with doing. He  especially liked the fact that he could earn a paycheck while completing his High School Diploma and access other resources if and when needed.

“He is a joy to be around,” says Korey Anderson, JobStart Case Manager. “His initial reaction to Steepletown was to be a bit more reserved and timid. However, throughout his time with us Preston demonstrated a high level of consistency and dependability.” 

Preston experienced highs and lows throughout his time in programming – much like any young person navigating such significant barriers that he was experiencing.   However, he was able to continue to develop forward thinking and planning for his future in a safe space. After approximately 8 months after registering and working with JobStart and committing to his academics, Preston earned his High School Diploma. Preston was also able to save enough money from his checks through JobStart to move into his own apartment. Exactly 6 months after that milestone, Preston gained full-time employment at the Bridge Street Market. And now one year later, he remains employed and confident in how he approaches work each and every day. 

So what’s next for Preston? He explained that he will continue to live life with people he cares about and maintain his independence. He plans to travel more and play video games. Lastly, he feels as confident as ever to pursue higher education and will be enrolling in GRCC courses in the fall.

Picture of Dick Bulkowski

Dick Bulkowski

Leave a Replay