Through the Bartow Christmas Coalition, its president, Melissa Porter, has helped hundreds of families have a brighter holiday season. Formed in the early 1990s, the nonprofit assisted 800 families, 1,300 children and 180 senior adults in 2014.
“I got involved in 2000 and became the president 2004,” she said. “I did a local pageant in Adairsville that benefited the organization. Once I volunteered, I got more and more involved with meetings, etc. I was nominated to be the president and took it. It has warmed my heart to serve … [the community] through the years.”
Name: Melissa Joy Porter
Occupation (title): Business owner
City of residence: Kingston
Family: Husband, Tommy Porter, and daughter, Mya Reece Porter
Education: Adairsville High, 1999; North Metro Tech for Instructor Program
When did you open Melissa & Co. Salon, and what led you to this line of work?
A: September 1999 — I wanted to open a business to be able to express my love for the industry.
What organizations or community efforts does your salon support, and why do you feel it’s important to give back to the community?
A: I always want to give back. I believe we are here to serve others, and I feel like it is our mission here on this Earth to help our fellow neighbor. [Programs include] Look Good Feel Better program at The Hope Center, Children’s advocate — we cut their hair anytime they need us to, Give a Kid a Chance, TASB organization, Bartow Christmas, Relay [For Life], High Heel Parade [and] Homeless shelter haircuts.
When/why was the Bartow Christmas Coalition formed and what is its purpose?
A: The purpose was to relieve all the service agencies and organizations to become one to serve our community with Christmas food and toys.
Provide some details about this year’s effort.
A: Every family receives a food bag with children receiving two toys. Elderly receives food bag and gift card.
How can the community support the Bartow Christmas Coalition? What are your needs, and when/where can people drop off donations?
A: The store will be in the same location — old Belk shopping center. The drop off will be there for food and toys. Also local grocery [stores] will have signage to support us as well. … Publix, Wal-Mart and Ingles are [a] big help to us along with our local churches, business, schools and all organizations that help us every year. We need all of these key players for this organization to go on. The Monday after Thanksgiving we will be open for drop-offs and for people to start volunteering.
What have you learned about Bartow County — as far as needs and community spirit — by being involved in the Bartow Christmas Coalition? And do you have any special moments from past years’ efforts that you want to share?
A: I have made countless memories through the years. … The hugs, laughs and stories I will always cherish that along with all the countless volunteers that make this possible every year. I know when I put a need out there … the community really can rally to get it done.
If you were not in your line of work, what would you like to do?
A: I honestly love my industry so much I can’t imagine not working in it at all, so I would definitely be a cosmetology teacher. I love [the] high school level. If I couldn’t do anything [in the] industry, [then] maybe run a wedding venue, be a photographer or run a series of nonprofit organizations.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
A: Unique, caring and supportive.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
A: Do what you love and follow your heart.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: Spend all spare time with my family and furbabies.
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