Woman runs suburban teen center to help young people on their journeys

ORLAND PARK, Ill. — Priscilla Steinmetz is our fourth finalist in the year’s Remarkable Women contest. Her work has impacted countless young people.

If you ask her about kids, she’ll tell you all about thousands of them, as if they were her own. Supporting young people is at the heart of everything she is about.

Steinmetz is the woman behind a teen outreach center called the Bridge Teen Center in Orland Park.

For her, it’s not just planting seeds but giving these teens the tools for personal growth.

“I get the opportunity to speak truth in their life and I just get to spend time with them,” she said. “And I get to see them grow and you get that ‘ah ha’ moment. There’s nothing better.”

A  once empty warehouse is now a thriving center, offering free programs in coding, cooking, art and music to any teen who wishes to join. Their mission is to be a place for students not just to ‘be’ but to ‘become.’

‘We do serve 128 different communities,” Steinmetz said. “We teach our students here that the first person you lead is yourself. So before you lead others, you lead yourself.”

Gabrielle Brown attends the center.

“It helped me be more social, helped me get out of my shell and just experience new things with kids that I wouldn’t have experienced without The Bridge,” Brown said.

The center is funded by donations from the community and the adjacent Bridge Thrift store where Steinmetz runs her Thriftastic Job Readiness Program.

More: Remarkable Women 2024

“They have to go through an orientation and an interview, they get a handbook and learn how to ask for time off,” she said. “So they literally learn all the job process so when they go out to get a job, that confidence is there and hopefully that fear is removed.”

“It’s amazing to me how she pours her complete being into the children of complete strangers,” her husband Rob Steinmetz said. “And so to me that’s pretty darn remarkable. … This is not about winning awards or getting recognition, this is about loving and serving kids…that’s who she is. … She is beyond committed to doing that and I think she’ll do it the rest of her life.”

“It’s amazing how it makes a big difference in our world and we can all do it one student at a time,” she said.

Steinmetz’ was chosen as Congressman Sean Casten’s special guest at the State of the Union address this year for the impact she has made on thousands of young lives.

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