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Marissa’s Closet opens teen guidance center

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Marissa’s Closet opens teen guidance center

Melinda Shaw is seen with therapy materials that will be used by counselors in meeting with teenagers in need of psychological help in their life’s struggles.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin/


POSTED September 13, 2013 11:31 p.m.

Tears are expected during a daylong celebration in downtown Ripon where volunteers are working  to help make a difference for the community’s teens.  It includes a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. followed by a motorcycle poker run and a 2 p.m. lunch reception in Manteca.

It’s another element in a dream coming true for Melinda Shaw who is witnessing the opening  of a therapy center for youth at the rear of Marissa’s Closet in the 100 block of East Main Street that offers no charge prom gowns to high school girls in need.

The “Marissa Alexandria Guidance Center” is located at the rear of the dress shop with a private rear entrance that area youth can use without being noticed by their peers. It is where they can find help in dealing  with a variety of struggles that may be affecting their young lives. 

Both the center and the dress shop have been named in memory of Shaw’s late daughter who began collecting “slightly used” as well as new prom dresses that first filled the family home on Roberts Avenue.  The dresses in the store are now in excess of 700 that can be seen on numerous racks.

The 150-square-foot center is painted in Marissa’s favorite red, white and black colors and is just off an adjacent waiting room.  Lyn Price, who formerly worked at the South County Crisis Center in Manteca, has signed on to work with students on Tuesday’s and Thursdays.  Appointments at no charge will be increased into additional service days when funding becomes available, Shaw said.

The center is planning to have a professional speaker on a variety of subjects from bullying to cutting and depression on a monthly basis as additional funding becomes available.  Shaw said she is currently working toward accessing grants to make it all possible.  Presently the speakers are expected on a quarterly basis with the first before Christmas with hopes that an upcoming golf fundraiser will help.

She noted that the holiday season is an especially bad time for depression and suicides throughout the country. It is something she hopes her daughter’s memory can successfully address.  With the aid of her volunteers, she has placed yellow bows around the business community marking National Suicide Prevention month.

Shaw noted the dress shop has already gotten calls from Ripon residents asking for appointments at the center.  She said she has only told them to call back on Tuesday and they will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis. When they can’t meet a need, they will find someone appropriate as a referral.

The therapy meeting room was finished in Marissa’s favorite colors to honor what would have been the girl’s 21st birthday.  Shaw said she painted her room at home to match the one in the center. 

“It’s different; I knew she would like it,” she added.  “Her favorite flower was the red rose dipped in black.”

Shaw has tattooed what she describes as “The Arm of Life” on her left arm that runs from shoulder to wrist and follows the life of her daughter from her birth as a preemie in a neonatal ward where she was named “Peanut” to being a toddler.  Her junior high school likeness is followed by high school likeness and her final picture.  Mom had wings added to the last photo in the memorial tattoo. 

Also on her arm are Marissa’s list of activities as a cheerleader, in ballet, and being a book worm.  She loved to read since her early earliest years, he mom recalled. 

The Manteca lunch is set for Chuck’s Place across from the Home Depot and is the final stop for the poker run with a barbecue by Fagundes Brothers Meats.

The sign over the doorway was created by Colleen Medeiros of Ripon.

A fundraiser to help pay for professional speakers is slated as a Marissa’s Closet Golf Tournament on Monday, Sept. 30, at Spring Creek Golf & Country Club.  Registration opens at 10:30 a.m. with the tee-off at noon. 

Registration fee is $130 per person and $520 for a foursome.  The fee includes lunch, green fee, cart, awards and dinner following the game.  There will also be a hole-in-one contest, a putting contest and a mystery hole.  A chance to win $1,000 cash with a ball drop contest will be included with only 300 tickets to be sold at $10 each.

Those competing in the tournament are being asked to conform to a dress code

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