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  • Bridegport Vocational Education Center Hosts Thanksgiving Feast


The Help Group’s Bridgeport Vocational Education Center hosted a heart-warming Thanksgiving Feast at its Van Nuys campus for over 200 needy individuals in the community on Friday, November 16th.

Bridgeport Vocational Education Center (the Voc Ed Center) is a unique learning environment for young adults with special needs ages 18 to 22 where they can develop and master the critical skills necessary for a successful transition from school to adult independence. This one-of-a-kind program embeds core academics within community-based instruction and vocational education, which includes on-the-job training at several on-campus businesses, as well as at various community businesses.

Vice Principal Andi Ambartsumyan, who conceived the idea for this Thanksgiving event, stressed the importance of community service for the students. Led by Andi as well as Vice Principal Ngan Mork, the Voc Ed Center educational team and all 65 students planned and organized an outstanding event.

Guests were greeted by eager students and escorted to tables overflowing with Thanksgiving fare and all the trimmings. Food for the event was generously donated by Fresh & Easy and Active A/C and Heating.

Gemma Jimenez, field deputy for Senator Alex Padilla (20th SD), member of the Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders, said the Senator and his staff were thrilled to receive an invitation from the Bridgeport Voc Ed Center student who currently interns in the district office.

Special thanks to all the Voc Ed Center faculty, to parent Magdalena Beltrán-del Olmo, and to Father Vincent Schwahn, rector of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, for coordinating with community organizations to reach out to those in need.

Guest Maria expressed her thanks for the hospitality, “It is wonderful that you have provided such a delicious meal. Thank you for everything, and God bless everyone here.”

Pamela Clark, Director of The Help Group’s Autism Schools, summed up the event by observing, “Today’s Thanksgiving event was a beautiful experience not only for our guests, but also for the Voc Ed Center’s young adults, who participated in every aspect of making today such a success. We can’t wait to do this again!”