Deatrich Wise Jr. is working on his golf swing. After hosting a community event through his Wise Up Foundation at Topgolf on Monday, the New England Patriots captain says it's coming along pretty well.
"I know how to hit the ball, so that's the first lesson," Wise Jr. said "You have to check that off first."
Making solid contact is important in more than just golf. Especially for local kids trying to find their way in the world, having a touchpoint to a career they might not have considered otherwise can help drive them to success in the future.
Ultimately, that's what the Wise Up Foundation's Bridge to Trades program is all about. The "Blue Collar Soiree" on Monday was about celebrating their first year of work and building towards the future.
"I did it for Bridge to Trade to help not only raise awareness but also bridge the gap in introducing trades to kids in underrepresented communities," Wise Jr. said.
"They're cutting away a lot of trade schools and trade programs, and you need those trades now more than ever. It's recession-proof and a great way to not get into debt when you're 22 years old, just coming out of college, and trying to build a life for yourself."
Monday night's event saw more than 115 people show up to Topgolf in Canton for a night of golf, food, music, and an auction hosted by Patriots game broadcaster Bob Socci.
Guests were also able to hear about the Bridge to Trades program's first year, where kids were empowered to pursue skilled trades careers through the six-week program, gaining industry insights, financial education, and crucial resources.
"The first year was good," Wise reflected.
"It was a pilot program. In the six-week program we try to introduce something to the kids every week. This year, we'll be doing something similar, but also focusing on getting them apprenticeships and getting kids into programs that can help teach even more than we can. So far things are going well, and Monday was a great fundraising event."
The auction raised $10,000 for the Bridge to Trades program, making for a total of $25,000 raised at the event to aid in equipping local youth for success in skilled trades and vocations.
For Wise, the best part of the night was hearing Isaiah Apperwhite, a program participant, share his transformative journey in the program.
"He's a phenomenal young man," Wise said of Apperwhite.
"He didn't know what he wanted to do, but after the six-week program, he's really interested in getting into a trade and that's his plan next year. He spoke to everyone at the event Monday and did a great job explaining not only how he felt going into the camp, but how his mindset is now because of it. That was pretty cool."
Apperwhite's personal testimony reaffirmed Wise's mission with his foundation and programming.
The hope is to now reach more kids.
"Our goal is not only to inspire but to help change lives," Wise said. "I felt like that was a great example right there -- somebody who can now out and tell everyone else about getting into trades and that message can spread.