BRADENTON, FL – This summer, on July 4th, Elaine Mellon lost her father, who served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Robert “Bob” Mellon had just recently celebrated his 85th birthday and 66th wedding anniversary when he passed; Elaine wished to find a suitable way to honor his life and legacy. She remembered information she had heard during a Goodwill Manasota “Lunch & Learn” program about its Veterans Services Program – how veterans are helped to reintegrate into civilian life – and decided to collect men’s and women’s business suits for veterans seeking new or better jobs. Recently, she dropped off numerous large bags of clothing to the Veterans Services Program offices.
Bob Mellon was a medic in the Army, stationed at Fort Pickett in Virginia and Fort Williams in Maine. He served for two years, attaining the rank of Private First Class. Thankfully, Elaine said, the Korean War ended before he could be sent overseas into a combat zone. He joined the Army shortly after his marriage at the age of 19; after his discharge, he and his wife had two daughters.
Elaine has been engaged with Goodwill for several years since attending the Lunch & Learn and discovering the many ways the nonprofit organization works to help those with barriers to disabilities to find work and get better jobs through job skills training and education. She also appreciates Goodwill’s free community rooms: a few months ago, she took the reins of a women’s networking organization, called “Women with Class,” and the group now meets at the Ranch Lake Goodwill location.
She promoted the donation drive through the “Nextdoor” site for her community, River Strand; the donations of suits and accessories poured in so generously that Elaine extended the duration of the collection to accommodate her neighbors who gave.
“When my dad passed, I felt like I needed to do something in his honor,” Mellon said. “I remembered from the Lunch & Learn program that veterans often needed appropriate clothes for interviews and jobs. My father actually hated wearing suits but other people need them – this seemed like the perfect way to honor my dad and ‘give back’ to others in need.”
Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program, which is staffed by veterans, provides full case management and vocational services that address barriers to employment, disabilities, mental health issues, housing, education and training. The program, which was created in 2013, helps veterans navigate the wide array of available programs and to secure the benefits to which they are entitled. Goodwill also works with the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans who are seeking educational assistance.
“Goodwill Manasota is so proud to be able to honor and assist the men and women who have so bravely and selflessly served our country,” Margie Genter, vice president of mission services. “We thank Elaine – and her neighbors – for this generous donation of clothing, which will help veterans who are trying to find their way back into the workforce, or who are seeking better opportunities, to feel more confident during the job search.”
For more about Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call (941) 355-2721, ext. 451.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2017, Goodwill Manasota served 11,672 people, placed 555 people in jobs, assisted 360 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce, and provided 19,540 hours of on-the-clock training for its employees. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $92.1 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted more than 41 million pounds out of the landfill. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.