Mesquite is a city known for having a strong group of community volunteers. In that tradition meet Maggie Calhoun, MarDee Harper and Brandy Jenkins who volunteer with Mesquite Regional Opportunity Fund (MORF), Mesquite Regional Business (MRB) and the newly formed Mesquite Works job program.
Calhoun, who moved to Mesquite six years ago from cloudy Vancouver, Washington, was a real estate agent and broker for over 30 years, but knew about Mesquite. “My husband worked in Las Vegas in the early 70s and he liked coming up to Mesquite,” Calhoun said. “We like sunny and warm.”
Asked the most fun thing she has done as a volunteer, Calhoun said “When I was President of the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation I was able to get the Vienna Boys Choir to perform in Mesquite.” Calhoun is also proud to be a Mesquite Showgirl and calls herself “an avid volunteer.”
Her current avocation is being a volunteer for MRB, board member of MORF and volunteer coordinator for Mesquite Works. “Like many people I got excited about the new jobs coming here,” but Calhoun adds “I was saddened by our lack of a workforce.” Calhoun wants to get the local workforce “active and employable as that is where we will get lasting growth for Mesquite.”
MarDee Harper and her husband bought a condo property five years ago in Mesquite to use for winter holidays and long weekends from their permanent home in Idaho. When they retired they bought a house here and have been in Mesquite full-time for three years. “Now we take summer vacations to a cooler place,” said Harper.
For 25 years Harper worked full-time for non-profits that provide human services. She has extensive experience writing grants for various organizations and used that skill to assist Mesquite Works with their pending grant application with Workforce Connections in Las Vegas. She also has volunteered with the Southern Nevada Symphony and the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation and is on the MORF Board of Directors.
When asked how she became interested in helping with the grant at Mesquite Works, Harper said “I had a person helping me with moving who told me that he and his wife worked full-time at very low paying jobs and their lack of skills were holding them back. To support their two children they worked doing other jobs after their first jobs ended.”
Harper said that was her first realization that “We have some work to do in Mesquite.” That led Harper to MRB, which led to volunteering to help write the grant application for Mesquite Works.
For the last three years Brandy Jenkins has been executive assistant and office manager for MRB and that has led to her working as a volunteer for several organizations including MORF and Mesquite Works.
Jenkins is from Rock Springs, Wyoming where she worked for Simplot “driving a train carrying acid.” She moved to Beaver Dam and applied for the position at MRB and “I have been immersed in the community ever since,” said Jenkins.
She is very proud of her work organizing three job fairs that have helped dozens of people get jobs. Jenkins has also taken responsibility as a volunteer to find furniture and office space for Mesquite Works. Her biggest project was working with Harper on the grant application “and that was quite an experience,” said Jenkins.
When all three were asked what they want for Mesquite Works a year from now, they all agreed that having a very busy office with lots of job seekers is the goal. Jenkins added that they also wanted “many happy employers.” All agreed that Mesquite Works should continue on whether or not the federal grant was approved. Harper noted that “We have a great board with a formidable pool of talent and as a community-based organization Mesquite Works will succeed.”