(L-R): Debra Fuentes and Dr. Tremane Bartley at Bridgeport Braces. Photo: Daniel Trust
There is nothing that brings me more joy than seeing an immigrant or refugee start, grow and scale a successful business in the United States of America.
You want to know why?
Because immigrants and refugees go through so many challenges in their home countries and when they come to America, they work really hard to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
The majority of people I know who immigrated to this country came here with nothing, but a dream to have peace and access to quality education and better employment opportunities.
You might not know this because media outlets do not highlight it enough, but once an immigrant or a refugee is successful in their profession, they give back to this country and their community in a very big way.
Dr. Tremane Bartley of Bridgeport Braces is a perfect example.
This young man immigrated to this country in the early 2000s from Jamaica for an opportunity to attend college. When he arrived, he had nothing, but a backpack and a dream for a better life.
“I always tell the story that I arrived here with a backpack and a dream,” Dr. Bartley recently told me as I visited him at his office in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “Through hard work, a good amount of luck, and a lot of help, I was able to graduate college and I’m now a proud business owner.”
After obtaining his undergraduate degree from Benedict College in South Carolina, Dr. Bartley came to Connecticut to attend the UConn School of Dental Medicine. Upon graduating from UConn, he practiced as a general dentist for many years, where his interest for esthetics and working with children led him to pursue the specialty of Orthodontics.
Today, Dr. Bartley is a successful Orthodontist and he is paying it forward in so many ways. His business, Bridgeport Braces, has 5 employees and I had the honor of meeting one of them.
Debra Fuentes, a patient coordinator at Bridgeport Braces, told me that Dr. Bartley has made a big impact in her life. About 2 years ago, Debra wanted to break into the dental field and did not think it was possible, but Dr. Bartley gave her a chance by offering her a job.
Just like Dr. Bartley, Debra was not born here. She and her family came to the United States from Puerto Rico for a better life when she was 7 years old and life has not always being easy.
“I had my son at a young age, so it was a struggle from the beginning. I had to work and go to school at the same time to support him. I’ve had a lot of up and downs,” Debra told me. “My brother passed away 2 years ago right before I started working here and that was a hard hit for me.”
Despite all the challenges she has been through, Debra is optimistic about her family's future. She told me that she loves her job and is very thankful for the opportunity Dr. Bartley has given her.
Dr. Bartley is also a philanthropist. Not only is he providing employment opportunities to wonderful people like Debra, but Dr. Bartley is also investing, mentoring, supporting and giving back to young people.
I’m very happy to announce that Dr. Bartley and his team at Bridgeport Braces have made a very big investment in our high school mentees and scholars at Daniel Trust Foundation by donating $1,000 to our 2018 Summer Fundraising Campaign on Crowdrise. This generous donation will certainly have a big impact in the lives of our students and in the community.
“I think that Daniel Trust Foundation has a very comprehensive way of helping kids. Not only is the Foundation giving kids money to go to school, but it is also giving them the tools they need to succeed,” Dr. Bartley told me when I asked him why he is investing in our work. “The Foundation really benefits a lot of kids and I know there is a lot that goes into getting the Foundation’s mission forward. If I could help in a small way, I’m very happy to be apart of it.”
Dr. Bartley and Bridgeport Braces’ success is very inspiring to me. I want to congratulate him on his business success and I sincerely thank him for giving so many people and their families the opportunity to succeed in life.