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Fresh Start Focus

July 2023


πŸ”¨ Build Academy stays busy

This past month, Build Academy (pictured above) and one of our Legacy construction crews celebrated the completion of two house remodels on Mifflin Street near downtown Madison! These projects were in partnership with Common Wealth Development. Check out the gorgeous interiors of the houses in this video from our new TikTok!

Naomi (above) installs drywall in a new construction home in Deerfield, WI (below)

πŸ“° A β€˜she-cession’ no more: After COVID dip, women’s employment hits all-time high

Our very own Naomi of Build Academy was featured in a national Stateline article! Mike Price, Training Manager, said, "Women and minorities are more than capable of fulfilling the labor shortage in the trades and Build Academy is an awesome conduit to get there. Naomi is the epitome of our program. She came in with very little experience, asked hundreds of questions, and took on a leadership role from the start."

When asked how the trades would improve with more women, Naomi answered, "I think stuff would be done more efficiently, less mistakes. There's been times where I [miss a day] and Shane [Build Academy supervisor] is like, 'oh, we needed you yesterday, a lot of stuff went wrong.' I think it’s important that the trades are more diverse, between men, women, all genders, all races, all of that."

Build Academy participants had the pleasure of rebuilding the garage and repairing the front steps and roof on a Madison Area Community Land Trust house! MACLT houses are sold below market value (this move-in ready 1,019 sq. ft. home is listed at $186,000). If the new homeowner sells in the future, they agree to sell to another income-eligible household at a below-market-rate price. The land trust model helps keep land affordable for future generations to meet the needs of the community.


Do you know someone interested in a career in the trades, like construction, carpentry, or electrical? Learn more about Build Academy today! We're always taking applications.


πŸš— Drive program in the news

πŸ“° Public school driver education programs may expand, thanks to support from state and local officials

"Some efforts to make low-cost driver ed more available are underway. Operation Fresh Start, for example, offers free courses to 18- to 24-year-olds. The program serves about 60 students a year."

Thedora Smith, drive coordinator with Operation Fresh Start, left, instructs Sincere Townsel as part of a behind-the-wheel driving lesson. Photo copyright Wisconsin State Journal.

Photo Β© Amber Arnold, State Journal


πŸŽ“ Legacy graduation!

Congratulations to Edwin for graduating from the OFS Legacy program and earning his high school diploma from Madison Metropolitan School District!

β€œEdwin would just show up every day fully prepared to do anything I asked of him. Matter of fact, I don't think I have ever heard Edwin complain,” said his supervisor Taylor, "He was someone who just knew what was expected of him.”

Edwin is known for his infectious smile and positive attitude, even when facing critiques. When he originally applied, he realized he wasn’t ready to commit, and waited to start over. He never let up and finished with a 93% attendance rate! As an AmeriCorps member, Edwin received an education award for approximately $2,400 that he is putting towards an automotive maintenance program at Madison College!

πŸ“· Thank you to Jim Barnard Photography for Edwin's senior photos!


πŸ‘‹ Welcome new OFS staff

Faith Neumann (she/her)

Build Academy Coordinator

Jessie Lowery (she/her)

Data Coordinator


✍️ Learn about planned giving

Planned giving is a financial gift included in a will for a non-profit organization or cause. Jody Weyers, Development Director, shares her own estate planning and talks about the legacy she wants to leave behind.

Last year my mom passed away. This life-changing event, along with my approaching 50th birthday, really has me thinking about the legacy I want to leave behind and how I want some of my life savings to make a difference to causes and organizations I am passionate about... READ MORE

If you're interested in including OFS in your will or estate plan, we invite you to learn more about the Jack Osteraas Heritage Society.


πŸ’š Thank you to Festival Foods

Thank you to Festival Foods for fundraising for Operation Fresh Start! From June 18 to July 2, shoppers could donate $1 or $5 at checkout. Between the East Washington and Verona stores, they raised $1,458 to help empower emerging adults in Dane County!


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

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