On April 12th, we will be scooping up free cones at our Ben & Jerry’s PartnerShops as part of National Free Cone Day. But, thanks to the support of some special businesses and individuals, we’ll also be raising funds to support our job training and workforce development programs! The 6th Annual Scoop-A-Thon brings together “Scooper Heroes” in our community who are dedicated to ensuring that youth learn the skills they need to find employment and lead independent lives. Whether they mentor the youth we serve, provide internships and employment, support our programs financially or work to engage others in our efforts, they are truly heroes for homeless and at-risk youth in our community.
Panacea is one of our Scooper Heroes and their own Melissa Egan is a former chair of the Multnomah County Homeless Youth Oversight Committee. We asked Melissa to reflect on her first job experience and why she and Panacea are committed to being part of the solution to ending youth homelessness.
Tell us about your first job…
Brooks Fashions at the North Park Mall in Addison, Illinois, 1986.
What was the most important thing you learned from that experience?
I’d say the most important thing I learned is that I was an excellent worker and had no trouble socializing and being appreciated in a work context. A bit of a perfectionist, I always got high praise from my boss, who adored me and held me up as an example. This did not happen in other realms of my life so easily. By high school, my family had gone through a lot of hard times and no one was very good at communicating about it. I had developed what I now know to be a very typical array of coping strategies and symptoms of extreme stress – isolating myself so I wouldn’t have to talk about family chaos, quitting sports teams to have a really bad eating disorder, going from As and Bs in advanced math to getting a D one semester…the list goes on. All of this stuff was beyond my ability to deal with at age 16, but I was always good at working and gave this me self-confidence, or at least some respite from home and school, which were much harder scenes to deal with.
Why is important to you/Panacea to support New Avenues’ job training programs?
As a former Citizen Member and Co-Chair of the Multnomah County Homeless Youth Oversight Committee, I have been a fan and supporter of New Avenues for years. I know for a fact that your job training programs have been one of the key features of our system in helping youth transition out of homelessness into more stable and independent lives. I started Panacea, a cannabis dispensary, for the sole purpose of giving all profits to social justice. We strongly believe in creating good jobs for our employees, and we want to help New Avenues continue to provide great opportunities for young people. Keep up the great work!