MORRIS COUNTY — The director of NewBridge Services’ highly successful alternative education and career program was honored last month by the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA). Amy Sheppard, who runs NewBridge Jobs Plus, was among nine professionals in the state to receive the Workforce Partners in Advocacy Award. All participated in NJAMHAA’s “Diverse Faces: Partners in Care,” a campaign highlighting the impact of mental health and substance use programs at the individual level.
“We at NewBridge are incredibly proud of the work Amy and her staff do to connect with young adults and help them develop the academic and life skills necessary to build satisfying personal and professional lives,” NewBridge CEO Michelle Borden said.
Celebrating 40 Years
In its 40th year, NewBridge Jobs Plus is the longest-serving program of its kind in Morris County. The program is free to area young adults, and NewBridge provides transportation to Morris County residents. Participants learn at their own pace and receive academic support, life and professional skills training, career and college coaching, and counseling to overcome emotional challenges.
“It has been my honor to work alongside these incredible young people and share in their journey of self-discovery and growth,” said Sheppard, a licensed clinical social worker. “They truly inspire me and validate my commitment to our work at [NewBridge] Jobs Plus.” Sheppard was hired by NewBridge as a social worker in 1996 and became the program’s director a few years later.
Sheppard and 2022 NewBridge Jobs Plus graduate Favio Jasso were featured in NJAMHAA’s “Diverse Faces: Partners in Care” brochure and video. NJAMHAA President and CEO Deborah Wentz said the campaign succeeded in increasing the state’s investment in mental health and addiction services.
Counselor and Mentor
Jasso, who left traditional high school after failing two 10th-grade classes, described how Sheppard helped him learn to manage depression. Sheppard provided Jasso with weekly supportive counseling sessions while in the program, and he received employment skills training and college and career planning through the program.
“If it weren’t for my counselor Amy, I would never have had the courage to apply for the business administration courses I’m currently taking,” Jasso said. He plans to transfer from the County College of Morris to Rutgers Business School in Newark.
Sheppard called Jasso “an intelligent, motivated young man ready to take on the world. His openness and willingness to share his mental health journey has inspired everyone who has heard his story,” she said. Click here to learn more about NewBridge Jobs Plus.