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Marissas Closet opens teen guidance center
Marissa Ribbon DSC 6182
Melinda Shaw radiates with the realization of a dream to launch a therapy center as she watches the ribbon drop from the blades of her scissors. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

With the snip of a ceremonial ribbon and after hundreds of hours of volunteer labor, a therapy center for teens became a reality in the 100 block of West Main Street in downtown Ripon.

Teens now have a place to go for help with things others might feel difficult to talk about.  Melinda Shaw said she has been chided in her efforts by people in the community who have told her Ripon doesn’t have a problem – it doesn’t have a need. But it does, she said, and added somebody has to address that need.

A close knit group of supporters gathered near the rear of the facility.  Many had taken part in the renovation of both Marissa’s Closet and the therapy center by tearing down partitions, erecting walls and painting as well as putting up racks that wouldn’t pull out of the concrete walls.

The Marissa Alexandria Guidance Center has officially opened its doors in an effort to ease the psychological ills of students who might otherwise not have an avenue for help with cutting, feelings of suicide and depression. 

Counselor Lyn Price, formerly operating the South County Crisis Center in Manteca, is offering her services two days a week with a freshly decorated office and waiting room at the rear of Marissa’s Closet that has given away over 12,000 prom dresses during the past 3.5 years.

Prior to the ribbon cutting on Saturday members of the Ripon VFW Motorcycle Club roared into the rear parking lot and parked their motorcycles – many of them with spouses on the back seats of their motors.

They had planned a nearly four hour poker run over the Altamont with three stops on the way to Livermore.  The veteran bikers made it back to Manteca by for a planned barbecue lunch for the Marissa supporters at Chuck’s Place restaurant near the Home Depot.

The therapy center and the closet were both established in honor of Shaw’s late daughter Marissa McLeod who years ago began collecting slightly used prom gowns “to make a difference” for her friends who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend their high school proms.  Since its opening thousands of girls have lined up at the front door of the downtown shop where they have found numbers of gowns still new,  with their original price tags intact – some over $1,000.

In an effort to help in the funding of professional speakers at the therapy center, a golf tournament is scheduled for Sept.r 30 at the Spring Creek Golf & Country Club.  The registration time is 10:30 with T-off at noon.  Registration is $130 per person and the donation for a foursome is $520.  A lunch in the clubhouse is included in the fee along with the green fee, cart, awards and a dinner following the game