Meet Jewel Collins-Smith, who has worked at BRIDGES at Riviera Beach since 2014 as a childwatch worker.

Jewel is the mother of 15 children, 9 boys and 6 girls and has been married for 19 years. Initially she came to BRIDGES in 2014 seeking childcare help and then started attending activities.

Before long, she was sharing her knowledge of the BRIDGES resources with others in the community.

She became an ambassador for BRIDGES.

(To be an ambassador, you must complete certain requirements and have a willingness to share the BRIDGES philosophy with the community. One of the things BRIDGES like to do is to empower our ambassadors to grow by setting personal goals.)

Like others attending BRIDGES program, Jewel got caught up in caring for her family that she was left out of the equation about caring for herself.

When asked, “what do you want to do?” Jewel had “aha moment” because she had been so caught up in the right now, that she couldn’t look ahead. She wanted more for her family and she lived vicariously through her children and just didn’t focus on her self-worth.

She dropped out of high school six months before graduation. She wanted a diploma for much of her life.

Then came an opportunity to get it.

Debra (OC) introduced her to Circles of Palm Beach County – an 18 month programed designed help individuals and families break out of poverty and become upward mobile through education, mentoring and personal resolve to succeed. While participating in Circles, a mentor challenged her to take the test.

She took him up on the offer and received her diploma.

Then came another opportunity.

Gwen (PC) told Jewel about TRIO program which serves to assist low-income individuals, first generation college students and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post baccalaureate programs.

Jewel got in the program and earned her Early Childhood Professional Certificate specializing in preschool.

She has always had a love for children and is now working to get the degree and certifications needed to fulfill her dreams and work in the field.

Because of BRIDGES, she feels empowered and a believer in her worth.

Now working at BRIDGES at Riviera Beach as a childwatch worker, Jewel wants to work in the mentorship program to help others reach their full potential. Her slogan is: “cultivating diamonds is the rough.”