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Fresh Start Focus

🌱 April 2023

Earth Day Celebrations

Rain or shine, OFS celebrates Earth Day every year!

This year, Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy and Dane County Parks put together a wonderful day of indoor activities and presentations in a last-minute change when the weather turned to cold rain. Staff, volunteers, and participants had a great time learning about watersheds, trees, bird watching, and native plants. We helped divide and re-pot native plants like milkweed, prairie phlox, and coneflower so they're ready to add to Pheasant Branch Conservancy this year!

Earth Day may be over, but parks are always here! Everyone has a right to green spaces and it’s been proven good for your mental health. Learn more and find one near you:

View Dane County Parks

New Faces New Places

On April 13, we had a great time hosting Downtown Madison, Inc.'s New Faces New Places networking event! About 80 DMI members had the opportunity to network and learn about everything we do at Operation Fresh Start. Our doors are always open if you want to learn more, too! Please feel free to contact Jody, our Development Director, to schedule a tour.

Thank you to Downtown Madison, Inc. for this opportunity, to Festival Foods for the wine, to Wisconsin Distributors for the beer and hard cider, and to our own culinary team for the delicious snacks!

April Graduations


Hector's supervisor Miles said, “Saying goodbyes is hard. I’m really excited for you, but I’m also like, oh man, we’re not gonna have Hector on the crew anymore. Because you have such a great sense of humor. You’re really creative. You’re a great team player. Everyone feels comfortable around you.”

“Without [OFS], I probably would have dropped out,” said Hector, “I want to thank Miles for being a great supervisor, and [my teachers] for helping me with college. And I want to thank my mom for believing in me and taking me here every morning. I’m very thankful.”


“You always put out your best effort, and you’ll be so missed. You advocate for yourself really well and that is going to help you in your future,” said Tom, her supervisor.

“[At OFS], I’ve learned a lot of useful, lifelong skills,” said Jasmine, “Being on the conservation crew helped me learn about the environment and the importance of being open to learning a lot of new things. Being on [the construction] crew helped me to continue my growth. OFS has made a big, big impact on me and my future.”


“You are somebody who can connect with anyone,” said his supervisor Miles, “You can bring all different types of people together, and help them learn and grow, and get to where they need to be. That is the strongest quality in a leader.”

Many Legacy participants experience a lot of firsts when working in construction or conservation. Eric was no different, and Miles recounted, “For the number of times you didn’t want to go on the ladder or on the roof, but you did, that just shows your willingness to go outside of your boundaries even if you’re uncomfortable.”


“You made the decision to come [to OFS] and face your challenges, lean into those and ask for help and use the resources here,” recounted Miles, his Legacy supervisor, “You consistently made progress on your education goals. You showed up every single day, excited to be here. You really improved your interpersonal skills and developed all these positive relationships in your life.”

Aiden has already moved on to our Build Academy program where he’ll continue gaining hands-on experience in construction!


Jasmine, program manager at OFS, said, “I was invited out when you were working on a house, and Reshid was working with concrete for the first time. There was this huge divot in the concrete and I thought, there’s no way that he’s going to be able to smooth that without putting his foot in this concrete. But he just kept at it and kept at it and, in the end, it was beautiful. So my words of advice are when you come across divots in life, just keep working at them like you did that day, smoothing them out. You’ve got what it takes.”

Spring Wish List

Aside from monetary donations, there are items and supplies our participants need for spring and summer at OFS! You can either purchase from our Amazon Wish List, which will be delivered straight to us, or drop off items directly at OFS. Please note we will only accept new, unused items.

View Wish List

National Volunteer Week


Last week, April 16-22, was National Volunteer Week! It's an annual opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers in our community. Many volunteers have supported our mission at OFS and helped us empower emerging adults! Learn more about volunteering at OFS today.

Thank You to UScellular

Huge thank you to UScellular for their donation of 25 wireless hotspots and two years of service to OFS! For many, the internet is still not accessible, so these hotspots create digital equity for justice-involved young adults in our Drive to Succeed program, helping them re-engage with a high school completion program to earn their diploma or GED/HSED.

(Pictured is Ericka Booey, Drive to Succeed and Options program coordinator.)

Thank you for helping OFS empower emerging adults on their path to self-sufficiency!

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