EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – KFOR wants to spotlight Remarkable Women in Oklahoma! After receiving a flood of nominations, we have four finalists for our Remarkable Women in Oklahoma spotlight. This is the fourth nominee in the series.
Melissa Barnett was named the regional Oklahoma winner on March 30, 2022. She will be representing Oklahoma for the Nexstar Most Remarkable Woman in America contest.
Melissa Barnett’s journey to generosity started after she once needed help as a young, single mother.
Melissa smiled at a picture of her daughter, Kaitlyn.
“She’s amazing, I could talk about her all day,” she said. “And she and I just kind of grew up together, really.”
“I just have a heart for giving back because I am so grateful for everybody that poured into me in my young age. I had a nanny when my daughter was growing up and she never charged me a dime. And she watched my daughter, I mean, for probably two years every time I needed her. So, when she purchased a home with me, I used that commission to give back to another single mom to pay it forward.”
Melissa is now a successful realtor, and that $5,000 commission went toward a trip to a magical place that Melissa and Kaitlyn had seen many times before. But now, it was another single mom’s turn.
“I want to make that a reality for some people that otherwise may not have the opportunity. So, I did give a $5,000 gift card to a mom so that she could take her kids to Disney. She was just speechless,” Melissa said.
Along with her full time job, Melissa stays busy with things that don’t earn her a penny.
She leads a networking group and excels at fundraising, including for an orphanage in Africa.
“We raised over $60,000 that night for the orphanage.”
Her fundraising also has benefitted the YYCA.
“It comes from…a lot of those are single moms. There are men who get abused, as well. But knowing the statistics in Oklahoma, that one in four women are abused in their lifetime, is really powerful, in a negative way. And I want to do my part to change that,” she said.
That passion led to her Eternal Service Award from the YWCA, and a Rookie of the Year Award from the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber for her work there.
Melissa also throws fundraisers for friends who need help, and rents out theaters, Thunder suites and ice cream trucks for clients.
Perhaps her most generous deed is organizing an annual teacher appreciation party, on which she has spent thousands of her own dollars for venues, DJ’s, and gifts for 65 teachers at a school where her daughter didn’t even attend!
“I had the best year of my life, so I just bought everyone a pair of Air Pod Pros. It’s so rewarding, though, like you can’t imagine how grateful they are,” Melissa said.
Why does she do it? Simply because a friend at that school asked for her help.
In the midst of all that generosity, Melissa got something she never asked for – cancer and chemotherapy.
But when her hair began falling out, the eternal optimist hosted her own head shaving party, complete with champagne.
“I’ve got the Sinead O’Connor look going on,” she laughed, as her hair fell to the floor.
Melissa is now a cancer survivor and thriving with her daily good deeds.
“Giving back is my way of just spreading more joy into the world.”
No, those deeds don’t earn her a penny, but they do pay something far greater in value.
“Joy, just joy. I mean, that’s just who I am, that’s my passion is making people’s dreams come true. So, whether that’s being able to help a single mom go on a trip that she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attend, or being able to help kids in Africa or, you know, battered women, I mean, it doesn’t matter. I’m changing people’s lives, whether they know me or not. And that’s what counts,” she smiled.