Markell Bridges is familiar with the hardships many of UCAN’s youth face as they maneuver through adolescence into adulthood.
“I was them,” he explains. “Myself – having grown up similar to the clients of UCAN – I’m very fortunate I’ve had people in my life journey, to coach, mentor and guide me.”
Bridges has been a long-time supporter of UCAN, offering his time, talent and treasure year after year. He began as a volunteer and mentor, before joining the Board of Directors in 2008, Advisory Board and the Governing Board, the latter of which recently named Bridges as chairman.
“I’ve always seen UCAN as a way to give back to my community,” Bridges explains. “It’s a way to do something meaningful in the areas I’m passionate about, which is helping our youth navigate through the journey of life, giving them coaching and mentoring and nurturing that they need in order to be successful.”
In 2015, Bridges began mentoring a youth named Deshawn from UCAN’s Project Visible Man program, who wanted to attended college, but didn’t know where to start. Bridges was familiar with that feeling. Though he graduated fourth in his high school class, he never considered college in his future.
“I didn’t grow up with a father,” he recalled in an interview in 2015,” and no one in my family had gone to college. My friends were all going to college but I didn’t know what that meant.”
Bridges assisted Deshawn in finding appropriate ACT prep courses and helped him travel for college tours. Two years later, Deshawn is entering his sophomore year of college at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he is studying engineering.
In the past, Bridges has mentored with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, among others, and continues to mentor and coach UCAN youth. He recently retired from his position with Mondelēz International as director of Information Technology and Solutions, and currently serves as chairman of UCAN’s Technology Committee. He also is a member of our 1869 Society, a group that honors donors who have included UCAN in their estate plans.
“I’ve always been honored to be a part of the [Governing] Board,” Bridges notes -. “I’ve always been impressed with the Governing Board at UCAN, so to be the chair of this board is exciting but it is also humbling. We’ve had some extraordinary leaders. It’s an honor to take on this role.”
By: Carly Hanson