While everyone shows up to a job with their own unique experiences, there is no doubt that Melissa Lareau has a valuable perspective to add to the conversation.
While growing up Melissa observed different ways for people to earn money. Sixteen miles north of Boston on the coast of Massachusetts, some family members labored as fishermen in the summer and painters in the winter, while others worked in offices or banks year round.
Some worked overnights and multi-day shifts as EMTs on the ambulance, including Melissa’s mother. This work took a massive toll on the body. After several back injuries and surgeries due to excess lifting on the job, Melissa’s mother was forced to quit. After all the surgeries, it was difficult for her mother to find stable work.
Not surprisingly, inconsistent work resulted in extreme financial stress for the family. Melissa recalls one winter having to wash her hair in freezing water before school because they didn’t pay the gas bill. These disruptions continued to escalate and eventually became a lifelong struggle for Melissa’s mother to find and maintain stable housing and employment.
Incentivized by these challenges Melissa shares: “I sought opportunity through education. Doing well in school was something I had control over and it was a gateway to a better life. But school is not the path for everyone. Part of the reason I love Wonolo is that it is a merit-based platform. Someone may not have control over the circumstances in their life, but they do have control over how they choose to show up. If they stick to the 5 P’s: Punctual, Polite, Prepared, Positive, and Professional (Wonolo’s keys to success), they can find work. If their performance is strong enough, they may even be offered a long-term position with an incredible company.”
Passionate about equitable access to resources for everyone, Melissa is committed to doing what she can to help others create better lives for themselves. In 2010, she Co-Founded SF REFRESH, a project in conjunction with Project Homeless Connect, under the Dept of Public Health which was a year-long event series spanning 14 locations in San Francisco focused on free and equal access to alternative health services. While working at Veritable Vegetable, she acted as the company liaison to SEFA (Southeast Food Access Work Group) a group of community organizations, local businesses, health organizations, and civic leaders who collaborate to improve food access in the food desert of the Southeast quadrant of SF. She later worked as a Peer Mentor at the Growing Home Community Garden, a community garden for housed and homeless San Franciscans which provided a safe haven for members to grow food, access green space, and celebrate community.
Following the multipath approach to work that Melissa witnessed growing up, her own work journey is a unique blend of both frontline and office work. After obtaining her Masters in Landscape History, Melissa went on to work as a Warehouse Worker, Florist, Landscaper, Event Organizer, Merchant Strategist, and now Senior Market Manager- Northern California at Wonolo.
At Wonolo, Melissa works closely with Requestors/Wonolo’s Business Partners where she consults her accounts on best practices to support their growing business needs with a focus on developing training and improving operational systems. “I get to help our business partners grow and succeed while connecting Wonoloers with incredible work opportunities. I feel so grateful to do the work that I do.” It’s not just what Melissa does that she finds fulfilling but also where she lives, “Living in SF was a dream that I didn’t know was possible and it’s not lost on me how lucky I am.”
Every quarter the Wonolo HQ members work a Wonolo app gig. While working a Wonolo job last month, Melissa had the chance to chat with a Wonoloer who is also a mother of four. This single mom was working a night shift to help save money for Christmas. Moments like that inspire Melissa to do the work she does.
“At the end of the day, I think that Wonolo will win because we are driven by heart as much as intelligence and that as a whole, we care about the mission, the community, and each other.”