Springfield, MO

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Heather Mosley | SBJ

2023 40 Under 40: Melissa Rea

Care to Learn

Posted online

Melissa Rea has formed deep community relationships over the past six years at Care to Learn. As the director of chapter services, she’s a supportive point person for school staff working on the front lines to help Missouri students with unmet physical needs.

She also manages the operation of the Care to Learn Closet program at Springfield Public Schools, which is an initiative that provides an on-site closet full of clothing staples and hygiene products for students.

“We say all the time at Care to Learn that ‘the simple things are the big things to these kids,’” she says.

Rea, 39, paved the way for the Care to Learn Clothing Closet program expansion to 43 schools statewide from 14 just in Springfield. Between August and December 2022, students made more than 3,200 visits to Care to Learn closets for clothes.

Your first job? At 15 years old as a waitress/busser/dishwasher at Charlies Waffle and Pancake House in Clever.

Your most treasured possession? My beloved Taylor guitar. After 20 years of playing borrowed guitars, I finally bought my own in 2020.

Favorite hobby or creative outlet? Playing music with my friends. I play guitar, bass and sing, and have performed in several local bands over the years.

Favorite food item to order in the Springfield area? Portobello ravioli from Bambino’s.


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