Melissa’s passion is streamlining processes, finding technical solutions, connecting community members with funds/volunteer opportunities that speak to their passions, and moving organizations forward with strategic planning. She holds a Master Certificate in Applied Project Management from Villanova University and an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Fund Development from the University of Notre Dame. She served four years in the US Navy as an Information Systems Technician and Webmaster for the USS Dwight D Eisenhower.
In the weeks and months leading up to the outbreak of Covid-19, Melissa had focused her energies on the restaurant industry, assisting in the launch of two businesses and handling web design, social media, and marketing for others. When the pandemic led to the shut-down of the restaurant industry, Melissa saw people she knew suddenly without income, restaurant owners frightened for the future of their businesses, and thousands of service industry employees thrown into financial turmoil.
In the midst of this confusion, heartache, and fear, Melissa saw a “virtual tip jar” (a peer-to-peer donation platform) passed through social media. She replicated the open-source model for the Hampton Roads area and immediately received requests for Asheville, Charlotte, Greenville, and other cities. She realized a central repository was needed, so she began www.VirtualTipJars.org. The website now contains links to nearly 400 cities nationwide (and a couple internationally) and grows by the day. Virtual Tip Jars has been featured in local news WTKR and WVEC, as well as nationally in Food & Wine magazine and the New York Times.
However, she realized this resource was going to be a stop-gap solution to the long term needs of the community, so she began Restaurant Aid as a more comprehensive resource for service industry professionals. Under the umbrella of her non-profit organization, Hands and Feet 24/7 (an established 501(c)3), Restaurant Aid has been established as a permanent fund for the receipt and disbursement of funds to affected individuals and families. The immediate focus is on purchasing grocery gift cards, which can be purchased and distributed electronically, eliminating the risk of contamination, for families of service industry employees who are without work. Long term plans for Restaurant Aid include grants for restaurant owners who had been in their first year of operations, as well as ongoing outreach and immediate assistance for families.
In 2016, Melissa founded Momentum Services LLC (formerly Carolina Consulting LLC) as the culmination of a ten year post-military career working in and with non-profit organizations. What began as non-profit consulting and advising has transitioned into a full service organizational launching pad resource and now also includes services for small businesses. She has assisted several businesses get off the ground, from having a web space, social media presence, and professional logo and graphics to establishing a community presence through a holistic marketing strategy.