Participant Spotlight: Melissa McGrath, GoodGuides

Melissa McGrath didn’t exactly seek out the GoodGuides program.

“I got in trouble,” she said. I let her leave it at that.

Her probation officer asked her if she wanted to do something better with her time and recommended GoodGuides. Fortunately, Melissa was ready to make a change in her life.

“I decided I didn’t want to do that stuff anymore,” she said.

In November, Melissa met with Miriam Blair, who was GoodGuides mentor coach at the time, about joining the program. Miriam matched her with Goodwill’s own Elizabeth Startzer.

At first Melissa and Elizabeth spent a lot of the time going to the library, where Elizabeth gave Melissa help on how to look for jobs. They would also attend GoodGuides group events, like December’s Christmas cookie gathering. In February, Melissa was hired as a Customer Service Attendant at the Benson Park store – her first job ever.

“Now I can pay my own phone bill!” she said. “And I stay away from trouble.”

Melissa gives a lot of credit to the GoodGuides program, but Elizabeth insists much of the credit goes to Melissa. “She decided to make a change in her life,” Elizabeth said. “And now there are people to support her.”

Now when Melissa and Elizabeth get together, they spend a lot of time working out together at the Benson Park gym or going to the mall. “We’ve kind of morphed,” Elizabeth said. “Initially it was all about working towards goals and finding a job. Now we spend more time together socially.”

Melissa isn’t sure yet what kind of career path she wants to pursue. For now, she just enjoys working and making her own money. But as a role model, Elizabeth has inspired Melissa to think about the future and keep developing.

“Elizabeth travels a lot, and I want to travel,” Melissa said. “So I want to go to school and do well so that I can do that.”

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Partnership’s 4th annual Block Party is this Friday!

Goodwill’s Partnership Program will be sponsoring its 4th Annual Block Party to provide information on positive summer activities for area youth.

The Block Party is scheduled for Friday, June 3, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Blue Lion Courtyard — 2421 N. 24th St. (24th & Lake St. – Omaha, NE).

Organizations attending the event with information about summer activities aimed at youth include: Caregivers Support Services, Hidden Hills, Metro Credit Union, Nebraska Humane Society, OHB – Branching Out, East Omaha Young Life, Together Inc., YMCA Butler Gast, Youth Emergency Services, Education Quest, Salvation Army, UNO and Goodwill Industries.

Entertainment includes a dunk tank, raffles, games, balloon artist, drill team, basketball (horse game), and music.

FREE food and drinks will be provided by Hy-Vee (50th & Center), Rotellas, ConAgra, Bakers (72nd & Ames), QT, Northwestern Mutual of Nebraska, OHB, Metro Credit Union, Caregivers and Education Quest.

Goodwill’s Tri-County Partnership Program provides training and support to area youth ages 16 to 21. Goodwill serves over 700 youth in Douglas, Sarpy and Washington counties.

For more information, call Kristin Koopman at 402-342-2200.

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