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Kathy Pross, Director
Morris/Sussex County, NJ
Bryan Almodovar was raised by his grandparents in a Sussex County home where Spanish is the primary language. Bryan had little contact with his father over the years. His mother, brother and sister lived in another part of the state and Bryan had a difficult, often distant relationship with them. It was difficult to be a dark skinned, Hispanic youth in a county with little diversity.
Like many adolescents, Bryan struggled to make sense of his world but he had the love and support of his grandparents, his church family at La Roca, an advocate from Morris Sussex Youth Advocate Program, as well as a YAP Behavioral Health Clinician. He blossomed into an amazing young man who no longer needed YAP services. What he wanted at that point was a job.
At a function I attended, a business owner asked about what I did for a living. She said I should keep their company in mind if I had a young person with some mechanical or mathematic aptitude who might be a good fit for them. Bryan came to mind almost instantly. He is bright, eager, and has a smile that can light up any space. More than that, he wanted to work. The rest is his story.
Bryan worked part time until he graduated high school in June . He started working full time the day after graduation. He turned 18 in July and that allowed him to begin operating machines doing machining operations that he may someday design himself as a mechanical engineer. His employers at Colinear Machine & Design are so impressed with this young man's potential that they have agreed to cover his engineering classes at County College of Morris (CCM).
Bryan will still have to pay tuition for his other classes, as well as purchase his books and supplies. He will continue to work at Colinear Machine while attending CCM, in pursuit of his engineering degree. I believe that he is deserving of consideration for a YAP Scholarship.
Dr. Teresa Fuentes Lesky
Bryan is a 17 year old African American/Hispanic male whom I have known since he was 10 years old receiving BA services and then, IIC services. He was raised by his grandparents as his parents were absent throughout his life. Working with Bryan has allowed me to see the positive growth he has made over the years while receiving the services. Bryan has benefited greatly from the services and has advocated to other youth and families about YAP services and how they helped him during his most difficult years. He continues to keep in touch with me over the years to inform me of his progress and accomplishments.
Bryan graduated high school last year and has expressed to me that he would like to attend County College of Morris for a degree in engineering. Bryan has held many part-time jobs over the years and has delivered quality work. His charismatic personality and hard work deserves to be recognized. Bryan will be the first in his family to attend college and will serve as a positive role model for his 14 year old younger sister and cousins. Although Bryan has not had many positive role models in his life, he is grateful to his grandparents for instilling in him high morals and values. Bryan has many times said that he will take care of his grandparents for all they have done for him.
On my behalf, please consider Mr. Bryan Almodovar for the $1,000.00 tuition scholarship towards his education expenses. He is an outstanding young man with a lot to offer and I believe he will do exceptionally well in his future endeavors. His hard work and perseverance has brought out his most endearing characteristics which are an asset to his future goals. Please feel free to contact me if you should need any additional information regarding Bryan.
Michele Natoli, Assistant Director
Morris/Sussex County, NJ
I met Brian Almodovar when he was about 12 yrs. He became involved with our local CART, which at the time provided services to youth and their families in Sussex County who were experiencing problems. I was working as a clinical therapist, for another local nonprofit organization when I began working with Brian and his Grandparents.
Brian had lived with his maternal grandparents for most of his life. His Mother lived in a distant county with Brian's older brother, younger sister, and step father. Brian had no contact with his Father. Even at a young age, Brian realized that his Grandparents could provide the emotional and physical stability that his Mother was unable to.
Brian faced multiple obstacles. First, he is biracial, Hispanic/African American, who lived in a predominantly white community. His Grandparents only spoke Spanish and there were minimal, if any, services for Hispanics in Sussex County. I did not speak Spanish and CART hired a translator to help me conduct family sessions with his Grandmother. Secondly, a cousin who also lived in the county and had multiple behavioral issues would often have to stay with their Grandparents due to his acting out behaviors at home. Brian was forced to share a room with this cousin, which led to turmoil in the home. Brian is a very neat, organized young man whose room even at 12 years old was always cleaned, bed made, toys and clothes put in their proper places, never on the floor. Unfortunately his cousin was just the opposite, and his disregard for Brian's room and belongings created a great deal of tension and fighting between the boys.
But Brian's most challenging issues revolved around the abandonment he felt from both parents. His Father's sporadic contact when he was younger eventually became no contact at all. This was a difficult hurdle for Brian to understand and accept. And his Mother, who suffered from her own mental illness, was never able to provide Brian with the consistency and support that children need to flourish and succeed. Although Brian did understand this on an intellectual level, emotionally he struggled with confusion and anger towards his Mother for not being able to be there for him. He relied on his Grandmother for the "mothering" his own Mother could not provide. Brian also did not want to live with his siblings as they were both experiencing severe behavioral and mental health issues that required a great deal of interventions for both children. His older brother had sometimes been physically aggressive towards Brian.
During my interventions with Brian and his Grandparents, I saw the strength of character that was innately part of who Brian is. He initially struggled with his anger but eventually learned and was able to utilize all the coping skills he was taught. He is an intelligent young man who recognized that he did not want to take the same paths that his brother and cousin were taking. He succeeded with hard work and was able to avoid the path they took.
I recently saw Brian at a community event and was so impressed with the young man he has become. I know that whatever path he chooses as an adult will be well thought out and as a result, successful. Brian has worked hard to meet his potential and triumph over adversity. He is a shining example of what YAP hopes to accomplish with the youth we work with.
All my life I was different to my Brother, Sister, and Cousin; who I grew up with, My brother, was diagnosed with manic Bipolar; My Sister was also Diagnosed with manic Bipolar, as well as my cousin. I was the only lucky one who came out with none of those sicknesses.
Compared to them I always liked to do things, such as working with tools. When I was young I remember getting a toy tool set for my birthday. And when I became older it grew with me, because I got an actual tool set to work with. I always work for what I want. I chase the things I want, and appreciate it more because I worked for it myself. When I was about 13 years old; I did a shoveling job for my neighbor. He asked me to shovel his two cars out and he'll pay me afterwards. I shoveled both cars out, and he gave me $150. Ever since then that made me happy, so I kept on doing it every winter.
When I was 15 my family and I moved to Sussex County New Jersey. I kept my shoveling business going. My grandma put me in the YAP program once we moved here. She wanted to make sure I wouldn't grow into having any anger problems which helped me with controlling my life. I didn't have any problems that I knew of. But the therapy helped me to control other problems, in the future, and controlling myself if someone else had problems.
Then comes my life as it is now. Kathy Pross knew of a job where they needed help in maintaining their company shop clean. I hopped on to that Job as quick as I could. They hired me to sweep the shop, and clean up. It grew into them liking the way I worked, and my maturity. From then on they moved me up to physically working with the parts in the shop, and now making them on a machine. The name of the shop I work for is Colinear Machine & Design, Inc.
I plan on furthering my education, I have been accepted into Morris County Community College in September 2011, where I plan on studying engineering. I would like to be considered for the scholarship that YAP offers, it will help me so much with my college payments.