When the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks retired Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman’s No. 2 jersey in 1988, Bridgeman, who holds the team’s record for most games played, walked away from his former career and never looked back. He hasn’t had time. Though he started his professional career as a guard/forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, where he played for nine seasons, Bridgeman has earned a reputation in the business community for being a savvy, entrepreneur and marketer.
After a stellar pro basketball career, Bridgeman left the hoops and went on to found Bridgeman Foods Inc., of which he remains the chief executive officer. He is also the owner and president of Manna Inc.
Bridgeman was a star basketball player at the University of Louisville, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, but he rarely speaks of his professional basketball days. He doesn’t need to. He has made a name for himself as businessman, overseeing operation of more than 100 Wendy’s restaurants in five states and Chili’s restaurants in seven states.
Bridgeman Foods is the second-largest of Wendy’s franchisees, and one of only three that currently have a Baja Fresh franchise. Only WendPartners Group, a 266-unit franchise collective in upstate New York, is larger.
In August of 2010, Bridgeman was honored for his community service when he was presented with the 2010 Fellowship Open Legends Award by Senator Herb Kohl, owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. He has received many other awards, including the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame; Volunteers of America, Tribute award for Outstanding Service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky; John Thompson Foundation outstanding achievement award; Jim Near Legacy Award; and the Coach Wooden Key to Life Award.
HOPE Christian schools are quietly expanding and working out strategies to ensure that every child, from kindergarten through 12th grade is prepared for college. HOPE stands for Hold Onto Promises Everywhere and is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
One of the key players rallying behind HOPE Christian Schools is the organization’s vice president of development and communications Wendy Greenfield.
A graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran College Greenfield is one of the school’s biggest cheerleaders. She attributes much of the school’s success to their focus on providing twice as much instruction in English and math, as they do in science and social studies, allowing students who tested behind grade level to catch up to their higher performing peers.
HOPE Christian Schools opened HOPE opened its doors in 2002 with one school and nearly 50 students. Today, HOPE operates three schools in Milwaukee’s central city – two grade schools (K4-8) and a high school (9-12), serving more than 750 students and their families.
While HOPE was successfully operating quietly in Milwaukee, many people heard about the HOPE schools for the first time when HOPE students landed on CNN with a “Scholar Ladies” parody of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video, where one of the lyric changes included replacing the words “put a ring on it” with “get an A on it.” Greenfield is passionate about the school’s mission and is proud of the acceptance the school as received by parents and students alike. She’s even more proud of the success the school has had to date. For example, HOPE’s two graduating classes so far posted college acceptance rates of 87% in 2008-’09 and 92% last year. And, more than half of this year’s senior class has already received acceptance letters.
Robert (Bob) Harris knew as far back as when he was a lad attending elementary school that he loved learning and wanted to be an educator. Now, long retired from a stellar profession as a teacher, coach, principal and college professor, Harris not only achieved his dream, but exceeded his own expectations.
From 1954 to 1971 Harris taught at Fifth Street Elementary and North Division High schools.
And, he was recently feted as one of more than 170 of the pioneer teachers by a group called Historic African American teachers of Milwaukee Public Schools.
Harris was one of those teachers who, throughout his career, went that extra mile.
He was not only a teacher, but served as a role model and prominent community leader. He was also actively involved in the civil rights’ movement of the 60s.
Though he’s now retired, Harris continues to serve on various boards and committees, and remains active as a volunteer.
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