Andrea Sultan, Jonah Partain & Nick Bell

Community Internships, Community Garden & Cafe Central

Andrea Sultan, Jonah Partain and Nick Bell have been with River’s Way for over 10 years. They have participated in River’s Way summer camps, and they have been involved with a number of key River’s Way programs for extended periods of time. Andrea now works full time in the kitchen at the Bristol Rehab and Memory Center and she owns her own home. Nick works two days a week as a dishwasher at Bristol Regional Medical Center, and he continues to participate in River’s Way programs at the YMCA of Bristol and in schools. Jonah is nearly done with a two year electricians program at the Tennessee Institute of Applied Technology in Elizabethton and he continues to join us at the Y when he can. Andrea, Nick and Jonah all contribute to their communities.

River’s Way has two gardens, one at Central Christian Church and one across the street from Tennessee High School. Starting in late February and continuing through much of November, River’s Way students and adult participants work in these gardens. We grow all kinds of produce which we are now taking to the Bristol Emergency Food pantry. We harvest lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and sweet potatoes.

Andrea, Jonah and Nick are in many of our garden photos. You can see shots of them weeding garden beds, spreading compost, and cultivating the garden soil. What you cannot see is that they are doing this when it’s uncomfortably hot or cold, when the work is hard and when they are tired or sore. They learn self discipline and the ability to persevere and as a result, they are each doing well in jobs or in secondary schooling.

River’s Way also runs Cafe Central at Central Christian Church on a weekly basis during the school year. Andrea, Jonah and Nick have each worked at the cafe, learning how to prepare and serve great food to the public. Nick and Andrea also joined River’s Way in an internship program at Bristol Regional Medical Center where they learned how to work in a professional food service setting. From there, the two moved on to their present jobs. River’s Way encouraged Jonah to participate in the United Way Jobs for Life Program at Central Christian Church. From there he moved on to a job detailing and driving cars with Bill Gatton’s Honda dealership in Bristol. In 2021 Jonah enrolled in electrician’s classes at the Tennessee Center for Applied Technology. He is totally engaged in this program and he plans to graduate in the summer of 2023.

Community Benefits

  • River’s Way participants realize they are able to contribute
  • Community members witness the high level of discipline and determination on the part of individuals with differing abilities
  • River’s Way participants with differing abilities bring infectious energy and enthusiasm to organizations

Andrea Sultan

Jonah Partain

Nick Bell