Fresh Start Focus
September 2019

"This young man has many dreams, and isn't that what we all want?

Bea Christensen 
OFS Board Co-Chair
Read Ramogi's
Story Below

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Our Mission: Operation Fresh Start provides disconnected youth a path to self-sufficiency.

Eddie Sherman's Last Day at OFS
& the Importance of Service
By Melissa Behling, OFS Volunteer

Eddie Sherman became a part of Operation Fresh Start by coincidence. His girlfriend saw a van with the logo and pictures of young people and suggested he look into it.
After a quick Google search, he applied for an OFS construction trainer job and got it.  After serving in that role, becoming grad crew supervisor, then construction and conservation supervisor, Sherman says this program has changed him in ways he didn't realize until he took some time to reflect. 

"I've become a dad, [and have] become way more responsible because I'm a true believer in leading by example," he said.  "I wanted to do better so they would." 
Seven and a half years later, Sherman is saying goodbye.  His announcement at the Wednesday morning group assembly was not easy. 

"I love my crew. That's why it was so sad to talk to them," he said. "I've always said the most rewarding part is when the young people come back, and I see them as young men and young women, instead of -- to be perfectly honest -- the children that I met."  He says members come back after graduation very mature, they own houses and have families. "[It feels] kind of like I'm doing something."

Addressing a cafeteria full of members, staff and volunteers, Deputy Director Brian McMahon compared Sherman to a college basketball player, who comes ready to play every game because every game counts.

"Over the years, I have been impressed by many of Eddie's skills and abilities, but his capacity within his first year to quickly own the meaningfulness of our mission and truly invest in grasping the complexities of how we accomplish our work is when I knew he would prove to be a special addition to OFS," McMahon said. "He will be missed."

One of the members, Jaheim White, sat patiently raising his hand until McMahon was done speaking.  When called upon, he added onto the basketball analogy, announcing to the room that Sherman has no jump shot.  The slight jab was a glimpse into the close-knit relationship Sherman has developed with members. 

Sherman's last day was on September 11th. It was a planned day of service for Operation Fresh Start members and staff.  Crews spent the morning volunteering at Second Harvest Foodbank and Heartland Farm Sanctuary

Knowing that some of the members weren't even alive when the terror attacks happened, Sherman wanted to share his firsthand experience.  He explained he was working a roofing job when the World Trade Center was hit. He could see the mushroom cloud from New Jersey.

"I don't remember it as a tragedy or some awful thing," he said.  "It was -- but I remember the brothers and sisters coming together.  We all went up there, all tried to help and we weren't even allowed because there were too many people from all over the country trying to help."

"I live my life trying to be somebody that goes at the rubble, because those are my heroes. Those are people that go at problems, protect their families, protect their communities and go after things."

Next, Sherman is going to work as general manager of operations at the Henry Vilas Zoo.

"From one zoo to another," he joked.

He left OFS members with this parting advice:  "You have to do great every day. You never know what opportunity you're going to get. Never know who's going to see you or what's going to happen. Why not? The day is just so much more fun to do. No one wants to half it.  Let's go."

9/11 Service Day
Second Harvest Food Bank/Heartland Farm

Every year, Operation Fresh Start staff and participants come together on September 11th and volunteer time in honor of those we lost that day in 2001.  At OFS, we emphasize the importance of service to our community every single day, but even more so on this day to never forget.

This year we spent time serving at Second Harvest Foodbank and Heartland Farm Sanctuary.

Since 1986, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin has put more than 100 million meals on the tables of the 1 in 8 who are facing hunger in southwestern Wisconsin. On this day, our youth helped with packing up food for the thousands of people in Wisconsin that face these hunger issues on a daily basis. 

For more on the amazing day at Second Harvest, check out this video created by OFS volunteer, Melissa Behling:

9/11 Day of Service
9/11 Day of Service

Also, check out our day at Heartland Farm through photos!

2nd Market Capital
Matching Gift Opportunity

From now until October 15, Second Market Capital Economic Opportunity Foundation  will match any gift, up to $22,000!

In lieu of Year End gifts, we ask that you consider donating now to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

We want to thank 2nd Market Capital Economic Opportunity Foundation for this amazing matching gift opportunity.

New OFS Strive Crew

It's that time again. A new OFS Strive Cohort is here and ready to get to work!

What is Strive?
Strive has become yet another successful OFS program. It is aimed at providing economic opportunities to high school graduates, ages 17 to 21, who are unsure of their next steps. Strive offers 7 weeks of paid training opportunities in construction and general career counseling.

Having had several successful Strive crews, we are excited to see what lies ahead for this new cohort.

Strive for your successful future!
R amogi C. - Legacy Program Participant
By Bea Christensen, OFS Board Co-Chair
This is the story of Ramogi (Mogi) 
Mogi is an 18 year old young man that was previously at Memorial High School. His birthday is April 4th. 
He has moved with his Mother five different times and gone to five different schools in other states, such as Atlanta. Ramogi has a smile that lights up a room when he looks at you.  
He has three sisters and one brother. He now lives with his father. Ramogi learned about Operation Fresh Start from his counselor in high school.  
He was told that going to Operation Fresh Start would allow him to go to school, get a driver's license, learn a trade, and have someone care about him and see that he would move his life in the right direction. 
At Operation Fresh Start, Mogi started out in construction which he liked very much. He enjoys and has a talent for taking things apart and putting them back together again. Ramogi is now working in conservation with six other students. He said that they are clearing away brush and that the bugs and spiders like him too much.  

His likes are, his teacher named Kim, working inside, his friends, and doing what others want him to do.

His dislikes are, depending on waiting for the bus, (hence his desire for a driver's license) others complaining, and of course bugs and spiders.

Ramogi earns a stipend for his work at Operation Fresh Start every 2 weeks, which he is saving to buy a car, so that when he graduates, he can drive to Madison College. (That is another one of his dreams).

This young man has many dreams, and isn't that what we all want?

So I say to Ramogi, "Dream young man Dream!!" And most of all, "keep smiling.  I would follow you anywhere...."
Thank you for your support! 

Operation Fresh Start is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.