Wheelock Professor Credits Bridge Over Troubled Waters With Transforming Her Life

BOSTON (CBS) — For 47-year-old Wendy Williams, life has not been an easy journey, but she admits she’s certainly come a long way.

Williams went from being a 15-year-old pregnant high school dropout to an assistant professor of social work at Wheelock College. She says owes a lot to Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a program that found her in her most dire need.

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters sign (WBZ-TV)

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters sign (WBZ-TV)

“Bridge gave me hope and opportunity,” she told WBZ-TV.

The nonprofit organization is a continuum of care for some of the city’s most troubled youth, ages 14-to-24.

Executive Director Elisabeth Jackson says Bridge is a university of life skills for young men and women who are homeless, pregnant, battling mental health issues, or lack the education they need to succeed.

“We are teaching them all the life skills they need to make it on their own,” she says.

Wheelock Professor Wendy Williams (WBZ-TV)

Wheelock Professor Wendy Williams (WBZ-TV)

The organization also serves as an emergency shelter to those in need.

“We provide safety (so) they don’t have to worry where they sleep tonight,” Jackson says.

Bridge also provides dental and medical care, education classes, and full-time housing for young women like 18-year-old Zipporah Echevarria and her one-month-old son Zen.

Zipporah and her son Zen (WBZ-TV)

Zipporah Echevarria and her son Zen (WBZ-TV)

“If you’re pregnant and need stability and physical help, Bridge is there,” she says.

Zipporah battles depression, but thanks to Bridge she’s now back in school and getting the professional help she needs.

“With Bridge’s help, I’m not depressed. I’m extremely happy they are always there for me,” she said.

For Williams, Bridge was more than just a second chance.

“It gave me hope,” she said.

Williams has some advice to those facing adversity.

“Don’t give up,” she says. “Don’t see your present as your future and recognize you have potential.”

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