Where There's a Passion, There's a Place to Serve
Melanie Berryman has a passion for serving others. “My passion is being a voice for those less fortunate, sharing my story to help others so they don’t feel alone in their own story or struggle,” said Berryman, who serves as district secretary for the Neese office.
In November, Berryman was awarded the Georgia EMC 2017 Community Service and Volunteerism Award for EMC employees at the state-wide annual meeting.
Berryman has been involved in community service for Madison County for more than 20 years. Currently, she serves on the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council where she trains and presents the “Birds and Bees, Not Fish and Flies” educational curriculum for parents and community groups to help parents talk to their children about making healthy choices regarding sexual behaviors. She actively coordinates community fair displays, summits and conferences to educate the community on teen pregnancy prevention.
“As a teen parent myself more than 30 years ago, I know the struggles of continuing your education,” said Berryman. “I definitely feel called to mentor teen girls,” she continued. through the Teen Parent Support Group at MART (Madison Area Resource Team),” she continued.
Berryman’s involvement with MART helps address the need for teen pregnancy prevention efforts and education, the need for teen parents to return to school and the need to provide school supplies to students in Madison County schools. “My favorite moment is watching these teen parents cross the stage at graduation,” said Berryman.
Berryman has mentored more than 100 teen moms over the last 20 years. She encourages them to complete their high school education, and many proceed to college, too. Her most recent success story is Samantha, a young mom with a small child, who earned her high school diploma, and is working toward her college degree while employed as a paraprofessional at Madison County High School.
“Melanie started mentoring teen moms before we even had the program,” said Shirley Aaron, Director of the Madison County Mentor Program. “The support she gives teen moms and dads prepares them to be good parents and keeps them in school to graduate.”
Shirley continued, “Melanie is a vital part of our Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council, too. She’s always involved working to reduce our teen pregnancy rate. Whether it’s hanging banners, planning a Prom Promise rally, or facilitating Parent Talk seminars, Melanie is indispensable.”
Beegee Elder, child nutrition manager at the Northeast Georgia Food Bank, said Berryman was a blessing to her community. “She’s such an inspiration to teen mothers, and I appreciate her commitment to our students.”
Berryman has twice won the Jean Harris Volunteer of the Year Award for the Madison County Rotary Club, and was featured in the Mentor Spotlight Section of her local newspaper recently. In addition to her work in teen pregnancy prevention, she serves on the Executive Committee of MART and volunteers with the “Food 2 Kids” backpack program at Hull-Sanford Elementary School.
“Volunteer work has helped me understand our Jackson EMC members and community better, and it’s helped me build strong relationships in the community we serve,” said Berryman.