Youngsters in Urban Bridges learn everything from table manners to resisting peer pressure and how to find a job. Photo courtesy Urban Bridges
The idea of signing youth up for a course in manners might sound boring or old-fashioned, but that’s not what Patricia Feathers’ Urban Bridges etiquette classes are like.
A head-turningly beautiful former fashion model with a love for kids and an eye to her own troubled upbringing, Feathers has built a program combining everything from courtesy at the table to balancing a checkbook and how to sail through a job interview.
Feathers is a mentor whose ulterior motive is improving young children and teens’ self esteem. Her motto: “Never allow your past or present to negatively dictate what your future will be, the power is yours, not your circumstance.”
“We teach kids how to get along with others and we teach personal presentation skills, speaking in public, meeting and greeting, how to shake hands with people and look people in the eye when you talk to them,” she told The Skanner News this week. “How to dress for success – you know sagging is OK, but there is a time for that. And there’s a time to dress properly and act respectfully.”
Urban Bridges has an array of classes coming up, as well as an Open House and Auction, Monday, Dec. 22, from 5-7 p.m. at their offices, 3327 N.E. Broadway, Unit B in Portland. Also on the calendar are:
-- Wednesday, Dec. 31 - New Etiquette Class - Class is 5 weeks long, 2 days per week (Wednesdays and Fridays)
-- Saturday, Dec. 27 - Mother/Daughter & Father/Son Pageant try outs - Time: 1 – 3 p.m.
-- Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 - Mother/Daughter & Father/Son Pageant - Time: 4 p.m.
“So many of our children don’t know how to act in public, they don’t know how to show respect to other people – let alone themselves. They don’t even respect themselves,” Feathers says.
“So we teach skills like how to deal with peer pressure, how to respect themselves and others -- interpersonal skills.”
Feathers says she pulled herself out of a difficult upbringing in part through attending a modeling school that showed her how to present herself with poise and assurance – which over time changed her own negative self image.
But even though she also currently teaches modeling, she also offers many other important life skills, including how to write a resume and how to shine in an interview.
“We have people from the community come in, including bankers who teach the kids how to balance a checkbook, how to maintain a checking account and a savings account, and how to respect money.
“We teach table etiquette – so many of our kids today go into a fast food restaurant and eat like that – they don’t taste their food, they don’t know what it’s like to tip a waitress,” she says. “They don’t know what it’s like to have respectful conversation at the table, to be respectful in the restaurant, and what to do with their cell phones.”
Many of these are skills that would have been taught by parents – but so many parents are working multiple jobs and spending less time with their kids.
And some of her clients live in foster care or are coming out of juvenile detention facilities.
“These types of things are very important when you go to get a job,” Feathers says. “You need to know how to act and what to do and what not to do. It could make the difference between getting a job and not getting one.”
There is a fee for the classes. For more information go to www.urbanbridges.org.