Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 23, 2014
Picayune’s Bridgeway Apartments is home to 24 intellectually and developmentally disabled adults.
Executive Director Darryl Bruno said the facility’s staff provides supervised living and supported employment services to their residents so they can live as independently as possible.
Staff aid residents with job training, shopping and other day-to-day activities.
Bruno became director about three years ago and he said there was no mascot for the facility.
Thus, Bridgeway S.E.A.L.S. was born.
S.E.A.L.S. stands for safety, empathy, attitude, love and superstars, Bruno said.
“We encourage them to keep each other safe, empathize with others, be successful in the community, love God and be superstars,” Bruno said.
Becoming a superstar means successfully completing a daily checklist, using good manners, exercising, practicing good hygiene, respecting others, taking responsibility for their actions and above all maintain a superstar attitude, Bruno said.
Three of the superstar residents said the Bridgeway staff has done a good job helping them to live an independent life.
Thirty-five-year old Robert Carl Jones was born in Washington, Indiana.
“I’m a Yankee,” Jones said.
Jones moved to South Mississippi in 1993 and lived in Bay St. Louis until 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
After Hurricane Katrina, Jones lived with family in Carriere until he moved into Bridgeway eight years ago.
Jones has worked at Home Depot for the past eight years.
“I’m a cart pusher, forklift spotter and lumberjack because I stack the flat wood,” Jones said. “I like stacking the wood, but I have to be careful and try not to pull any muscles.”
In his free time, Jones enjoys playing video games on his computer and X-Box 360. He said his favorites are airplane and farm games.
Jones also said he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, fellow resident Stephanie Pegram.
“We’ve been seeing each other for about six years,” Jones said. “We like to watch movies together. Our favorites are ‘Smokey and the Bandit’, ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ and ‘Home Alone’.
Jones said the Bridgeway Apartments are a good place to live.
He said the staff is remarkable and one needs to respect them to get respect.
“They help me every day to become more independent, I pretty much grew up here,” Jones said. “They have helped me mature.”
The Domestic Goddess
Thirty-five year old Stephanie Pegram was born and raised in Laurel, Miss.
She moved into Bridgeway about six years ago.
Pegram cleans houses, office buildings and local businesses for a living.
“I’m so good at cleaning,” Pegram said. “I clean the law offices of Buddy McDonald and Tara Tebo and I clean both of the Picayune Drug stores.”
Pegram said she enjoys interacting with the employees at the businesses where she works.
Recently, Pegram said she has discussed with other residents the possibility of starting a cleaning, dog walking or shopping business.
“I like being here with my boyfriend, Robert and my friend Peggy,” Pegram said.
In her free time, she enjoys shopping and looking at all the clothes.
Pegram said she likes the Bridgeway staff.
“They have helped me become more independent. They let us do things on our own and helped us to get jobs,” Pegram said. “That’s nice.”
The Netflix Buff
Thirty-one year old Bret Mitchell was born and raised in Picayune.
He has lived at Bridgeway for about five years.
Mitchell has worked at Winn-Dixie for the past five years as a bagger and buggy pusher.
“Even though it’s really hot, I like pushing the buggies the best,” Mitchell said.
In his free time, Mitchell said he loves watching “anything he can get his hands on” on Netflix.
He is a lover of superhero movies. His favorite superhero is Captain America and his favorite supervillian is the Joker.
“It’s not a bad place to live, the staff are nice people,” Mitchell said.