Bridges Outreach (www.bridgesoutreach.org) has been providing the necessities to people experiencing homelessness for almost 30 years. Reeves-Reed Arboretum has been transforming lives through nature-rich experiences for well over 40 years. This summer the Arboretum and Bridges have launched a remarkable partnership that brings together the best of both organizations and, potentially, can be modeled by similar organizations moving forward. This job readiness pilot program 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 RRA 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.”
Reeves-Reed Arboretum, in working together with Bridges Outreach, furthers the Arboretum’s vision and mission to create a legacy of service.
Celebrating over 40 years as an historic public garden, education resource, and non-profit conservancy, Reeves-Reed Arboretum engages, educates and enriches the public through horticulture and environmental education, and the care and utilization of the gardens and estate. Open 7 days a week from dawn till dusk, the Arboretum is listed on both the National and New Jersey State Historic Registers. Funding for RRA has been made possible in part by the NJ Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, through a grant administered by the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Dept. of Parks & Community Renewal. For more information about Reeves-Reed Arboretum, please go to www.reeves-reedarboretum.org.
Reeves-Reed Arboretum – a place to grow….for everyone!