Grassroots success: NewBridge Cleveland helps those who help themselves

This series of stories, "Grassroots Success: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods," explores how meaningful impact on our communities grows from the ground up. Support for "Grassroots Success" is provided by Neighborhood Connections and NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology.
This past Saturday at the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium, the NewBridge Cleveland Center for Art and Technology graduated 60 students from their Phlebotomy Technician, Pharmacy Technician and Hospital Nursing Assistant programs. While the event marked a promising new day for those students, Fresh Water took some time to meet former NewBridge student Tyeisha Long, whose story truly brings the organization's impact into sharp focus.

Mckinley Wiley took the photos included in this article during the May 20, 2017 NewBridge Cleveland graduation celebration.
Tyeisha Long was raising a small child alone, living with various relatives for short periods of time when she made a pivotal decision. She was going to move forward to a better position in life no matter how much sacrifice it involved. And then without looking back, she did.
Long was working part-time at a portrait studio when she noticed the phlebotomy book another passenger in an elevator was holding.

“I asked her where she was going to school, and she told me NewBridge,” she says. “That’s when I looked into the program. I was already a full-time student at community college, and I was looking to get into the medical field but I also needed a change. I needed to work and make a decent wage to support my daughter.”
Her daughter was a toddler at the time and the two of them had been staying with different family members and moving from house to house.
“I was living off different cousins — off their couches,” Long says. “All of my belongings were in my car. I was homeless, but I wasn’t on the street. I was living off people, basically trying to get it together."
After testing and an interview process, Long was accepted into NewBridge’s four-month phlebotomy program. Following three months of full-day classes and a four-week internship, she graduated in 2015.
“I felt like I accomplished something,” she says. “I’ve started a lot of things, but this was the first time I actually started and finished.

“It was hard trying to balance. My daughter was young at the time. It was a lot because I would go to school in the morning then still work my part-time job in the evening. Then I still had to take care of her. It was hard. It wasn’t extremely bad, though. It’s manageable; it’s something that you can do. It was stressful, though.”
Within a few months of working she was able to save up enough money for her rent deposit and the bare necessities to support herself and her daughter.
“It felt like a lifetime,” says Long.
Now for the past year and a half, she's been working for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction at a woman’s prison where she started out as a phlebotomist but now handles medical records and scheduling. Her daughter will turn five in September. 
Her goal is to become a registered nurse. She plans to start taking classes at a community college in the fall before transferring into a four-year program. Long recommends NewBridge's programs to anyone seeking full-time employment with benefits.

“It’s free education; it’s a free experience,” she says. Why not get the most you can get out of this free experience? If all else fails, at least you gave it a shot. I wouldn’t say stop at NewBridge, but I would definitely say start at NewBridge if you are looking to support yourself and get off the couch.”
Long is quick to add that graduating from NewBridge was no small feat, though. It required a significant amount of determination and dedication.
“A lot of people think just because it’s a trade school or it’s free that it’s going to be easy,” she says. “It definitely wasn’t easy. It took me doing my part — getting up on those bad days when I didn’t feel like it and I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"It took me to push through to get where I needed to go. The book work wasn’t really hard, it was the consistency and the getting up and going every day, dropping my daughter off at school and working through to get to where I need to be — so it wasn’t given. It was me knowing that I had no other choice. I couldn’t give up. I just had to keep going.”
Now Long says that her life is much less stressful. She is happy where she works and proud that she is able to take care of her daughter and herself. 
“Being a mom, period, is stressful, but it’s a different kind of stress because you’re not really worried about how you’re going to live,” she says. “I’m stable now, so it’s a total different kind of worry. It’s more exhaustion because you’ve got to be so many places at the same time and get all of it done. The worry I had before was not having the means to get it done.
"So working full-time and the education that I have and all the experience that I’m gaining has definitely lifted some of the burden and made life a lot, lot easier.”
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