Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Brittany, a client in the Sheffield Place Aftercare Program that provides ongoing supportive services for families that have transitioned to permanent housing in the community, made the following remarks at Off the Wall on Oct 13, 2018.

We hear a lot today about trauma and its consequences.  I’ve lived it my whole life.  At age 6, my mother and father got divorced, leaving my father to raise my brother and me.  I was bullied horribly throughout school with nobody to run to.  It got so bad at the age of 14 I tried to commit suicide to escape all the pain I was feeling.

The next few years were spent in residential treatment centers off and on where I was diagnosed with having bi-polar disorder and severe depression.  At the age of 17, I decided to drop out of that awful school and became homeless shortly after.  Despite everything, I was offered the opportunity to go to job corps and was able to gain my high school diploma. 

After a year and a half, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter and moved back in with my father.  It wasn’t long after my daughter was born in September 2013 that the worst day of my life would come.  My father took his life in our home.  My father struggled with alcoholism and PTSD, stemming from his military service.  My father was my best friend and the only family I had other than my daughter.

To make matters worse, I started dating an addict who introduced me to cocaine and before long, I lost myself to addiction.  I remember sitting in my living room, looking down at an eviction notice.  I lost everything due to my addiction.  I got on my phone and called Sheffield Place.

I was there for a few short months before I left with my daughter.  I wasn’t ready for the structure, the groups, case management, and to relive my dark past.  I left and within no time I was homeless again living in shelters, hotels, camp grounds, and couch surfing with various people.  Only this time I had a new boyfriend, my abuser.  I had become pregnant again and spent the next couple of years being abused almost daily; verbally, physically, and mentally. 

Even going through this, I was able to get on top of things, and get my own place and a job.  Things were looking up.  In May 0f 2017, I was pregnant with my third child.  At 8 weeks pregnant, my boyfriend snapped.  He attempted to strangle me.  Luckily my neighbors heard me and called the police.  The sirens scared him away, but they caught up with him and got him arrested. 

I went back to Sheffield Place and was safe again.  So, there I was clean from drugs, a place to live safely, but no options available to further advance my future.  I was ready for change.  I had to get out of this never-ending cycle.  With the generous help from Sheffield Place, I obtained a seasonal job at the Jackson County Courthouse in the personal property tax area.  I worked there until it was time to have the baby.

By March 2018, I landed a job as a consumer service specialist at a large bank.  It’s a full-time job with benefits, and company is willing to work with me with any issues that may arise.  I was thrilled with my progress!  The best part was that I was able to move into one of the houses that Sheffield Place owns and operates.

I have achieved my goals that I set up with my case manager at Sheffield Place.  I am employed.  I have permanent housing.  I am clean from drugs since 2014, and most importantly, free from the demon that held me down and made me think that I was never good enough.

With my current employment, I plan to work at the bank and move up into management or work in the fraud department.  I plan on living in my safe home, happy and having the family life I always wanted.

Without the services and support from Sheffield Place, I’m sure that I would still be living couch to couch, on drugs, and on the street with nowhere to go.  Without Sheffield Place’s help with case management, therapy, parent  training, and services for my children and so much more, I would not be where I am today.  I am grateful for the difference that Sheffield Place has made for my children and for me.  Thank you for being here tonight to support these life-saving services.

Friday, March 9, 2018

James Madison University Students Spend Spring Break at Sheffield Place!

Sheffield Place is so much more than just a home for mothers and their children. It's the beginning of the rest of their lives. I am so impressed by all of the services it has to offer and how much progress the mothers make in such a short amount of time. Getting to know the clients this week taught me so much about family and resilience. The mothers at Sheffield Place are striving to heal and give their children a better life. I loved working on the houses this week know they were going to loving and deserving families. This week at Sheffield Place has inspired me beyond my expectations. 
— Grace Moran, Health Science major

Sheffield Place is an incredible community, organization, and home that JMU was lucky enough to be a part of this past week. Throughout our time here, we cleaned up new Sheffield houses by moving furniture, raking, sweeping, and landscaping. Spending this week with the resilient women and their children who live here, has taught me the power and importance of having a healthy love, a healthy mind and a healthy life. As this week comes to a close, I am so grateful for this opportunity and I am inspired to recreate the love and cornerstone Sheffield Place radiates, in my own life at JMU. 
— Paige Ridge, Speech and Hearing major 

I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my spring break than volunteering at Sheffield Place. As a college student at JMU it is typical for many students to head to the warm beaches of Daytona or Punta Canta for a crazy week, but after my experience at Sheffield Place I was not jealous of my peers whatsoever. The atmosphere here is so warm and inviting. Everyone supports and respects each other like family. Hearing the residents' stories were insightful and hopeful. I am so pleased to have helped build their homes and care for their children. Performing Sheffield Idol with the children especially made my week. They are all so talented, courageous, and supportive of each other. Sheffield Place is positively changing Kansas City one family at a time and I am greatful to have been apart of it. 
— Victoria Worthington, Graphic Design major

Inspiring, rewarding, positive, influential- all words to describe the amazing week of service I have had at Sheffield Place. From starting off the week by playing with the children in Project Hope to finishing off the week by doing Sheffield Idol- a talent show for the kids to participate in- the entire week circled around the children and their mothers. I thoroughly enjoyed working with these children every day and getting to know their wonderful personalities and resilient strength, it made the week of service that much more worthwhile. Getting to hear the clients’ stories about what brought them to Sheffield Place and what they hope for the future was very influential and inspiring. We also worked on houses acquired by Sheffield Place to make them live able for mothers and their families to live in the for the future. I’m so excited that these families have a safe place of their own to turn to after they leave Sheffield Place. Overall, my week at Sheffield Place hasn’t even felt like service or work, it has felt like home and a loving community that has been a privilege to work with.
— Erin Conolly, Hospitality major

I came into my week at Sheffield Place not knowing what to really expect but can confidently say that I am leaving with nothing but great memories. From the helpful guidance of the staff to the innocence and love of the children, I feel as if I am leaving a piece of my heart here in Kansas City. I am both humbled and grateful for the time I spent here with all the mothers and children. I saw true love, hard work, and a powerful sense of community amount these families. Thank you Sheffield Place for the good you put into the world.
— Lauren Valente, Communications major

Our five days of service were jam packed with laughter, smiles, and growth. We had the opportunity to renovate homes, complete various projects, learn from the resilient mothers, and connect with the astonishing kids. We were able to see all the services that Sheffield Place is able to provide to the population of mothers and their children experiencing homelessness in the Kansas City area.

It is extremely apparent that Sheffield Place is a community. During the talent show, Sheffield Idol, many kids were nervous. The other children got up and sang with them, told them they believed in them, and exuded endless support. In this moment, the mothers were able to see their children perform, and their kids were able to just be kids. The love across the mothers, children, volunteers and staff has fostered a true family under the roof of Sheffield Place.

-Katherine Gibson, Psychology major

Sheffield Place is truly a community and I saw that from the minute I walked in the door. Speaking with the clients was an eye opening experience and the hope that they had for the future filled me with joy. All the services that Sheffield Place provides for the families is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and I feel so privileged to have been a part of the Sheffield Place community for the week that I served there. 

— Abby Koenig, Special Education major

It is very hard to put this week into words.  To say that this experience has changed me is an understatement.  I have learned more about myself and the world around me than I ever thought possible.  I have learned about the strength and resilience of the human spirit.  The families I was lucky enough to meet this week have taught me lessons that I will treasure.  Their positivity, perseverance, and generosity continue to astonish me.  My experience at Sheffield Place in these short five days has made me laugh, cry, and most importantly, reflect and be grateful.  From working in the homes to hearing clients’, to Sheffield Place Idol, I will always be so appreciative of the love and respect I have gained from this incredible trip.
Emma Malloy, Health Sciences major

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Michigan State University Alternative Break Students Serve Families at Sheffield Place!

Students from MSU recently spent a week of their Winter Break at Sheffield Place performing a variety of tasks.  Here are some of the reflections they shared, quoted in whole or in part.

Volunteering at Sheffield Place during our winter break was a really touching and meaningful experience to me. I think that the activities we did at the beginning of our time here really helped establish a good idea of why being homeless was such a though situation to escape. Throughout the week we continued to help Sheffield with some smaller tasks such as raking yards, manage the gardens, build bunk beds, and deep clean. Although these were smaller tasks the staff was extremely appreciative and made sure we knew that the smaller tasks were sometimes the most helpful.

My favorite task was interacting with the children at the end of the day. The joy and energy they brought into the Project Hope program always lifted my spirits. The little things the children said and did always had me laughing. For example, one of my friends on this trip was pretending to be talking on the phone to one of the little girls. A few minutes into the “conversation” one of the little boys started to talk a little louder so the little girl turns to the boy and says, “shhhhh” with her finger to her mouth. She also adds in a whisper, “I’m talking on the phone.” The innocence and willingness to interact with us touched me.

I think along with the children the client who talked with us and her openness and willing to share her story with us was really impactful. She helped us understand the struggles that they are going through and their determination to overcome these struggles which really showed us how strong a lot of these women are. I wish the mothers and their children the best and I know with Sheffield’s Place these women will do great thing!

Allison, Microbiology Major

My time at Sheffield Place has been so much different than I had expected.  When I say different, I mean it in a great way.  I had honestly expected it to be somewhat of a shelter, when in reality it is so much greater and deeper than that.  It has been so heartwarming to see that Sheffield Place really cares about and works with the women and children.  If only there were more places like this, the world would be a much better place.  I’ve never seen a group of people or even an organization for that matter work so in-depth and hard to help women with addicition, mental health, and family.  The way that everyone here has.  It’s great to see that the focus is not only on today, tomorrow, and the near future, but also on the long term goals.  The lsrgest difference between Sheffield Place and everywhere else is how well rounded their staff and their resources are.  I was amazed by all of the help and services that are provided right here on the property.  Another really great thing that caught my attention is how the agency wants the women to have great success when they are ready for life away from the agency.  The fact that houses are bought and fixed for the women to start a new and healthy life is so great to me.  While working with a staff member this week, I feel like I got a different and more in-depth view of how the facility functions.  Everyone works for the success of the women and children.  The children are a whole different dimension of the operation.  We spent a decent amount of time in the children’s program, which was such a fun and joyful experience.  The women that run the program are so talented and work so well to teach the kids how to work with others and listen to directions.  Overall, there are so many incredible dimensions that come together to form a wonderful program.  I hope that more communities notice the work and progress of Sheffield Place and follow in the footsteps to make the world a much greater place!  Thank you for this opportunity.

Emily, Biomedical Laboratory Sciences and Spanish

I have learned a lot from my experience at Sheffield Place, and I will take back with me a new understanding of service.  When I arrived, I rationalized that service is an option that some of us choose to do, while others tend not to.  However, Sheffield Place has opened my eyes to the ideal that service is an attitude we manifest.  Through the week, the women are able to not only learn the skills and lessons needed in life, but also understand the beauty in helping others.  It is the overall attitude of the agency that creates an environment of perseverance. 
Steven, Human Biology

Coming to Sheffield Place really opened my eyes to the trauma some people have to experienced and the strength it takes on a daily basis to push on.  The staff, mothers, and children have inspired me more than anything else in my 20 years of life.  Hearing these women’s stories and seeing how far they’ve come is truly breathtaking.  The hope that lives inside Sheffield’s door is something that I believe should exist everywhere.
Phoebe, Physiology major/Chinese minor

I feel the structure that Sheffield Place has is excellent and keeps the clients on track.  My time has been eye opening meeting families and learning their stories.  The staff have been amazing by sharing a part of their story and helping us feel like part of their family.
Matias, Social Work major

For me, hearing the stories showed me how strong a mother can be for herself and her children.  The kids were amazing to hang out with and develop a friendship.  I enjoyed hearing one high schooler’s plan for college and her determination to further her education at college.  It’s a memory that I’ll always remember fondly.

Katie, Neuroscience

While listening to a client speak, it really opened my eyes that addiction can start at a young age especially encouraged by family members.  Listening to her and her goals of getting custody of her older child as well as getting her truck drivers license was inspiring.  I loved working with the children and getting to see them interact with their moms. 
Morgan, Social Work

My perspective on poverty, addiction, and mental health has completely changed.  Sheffield Place opened my eyes to not only the trauma these women face, but also the long and mentally straining process towards recovery.  Despite hardships, they still were looking up and it’s so beautiful and gratifying to see them smiling with their children. 

Choe, Fisheries and Wildlife, Marine Biology

Sheffield Place has an atmosphere like none I have ever experienced.  The staff is caring, compassionate, resourceful, and extremely well trained.  You can feel their passion for not only helping the clients, but also allowing themselves to grow along with the clients they serve.  Their passion is contagious.  I will never forget the kind-hearted nature of the workers, the seet smiles and willingness to share of the mothers, and the excitement, smiles, and innocent nature of the children.
Kendra, Social Work

Overall, it was amazing to hear about how far the mothers have come and about their growth.  Sheffield Place is an extraordinary place with a program that works to help families.

Kristen, Chemical Engineering

My time volunteering was eye opening.  After observing the mothers and children, I realized that everyone has struggles, some worse than others.  The children are cute, funny, and bring so much joy.  It felt good to be a part of something, even in a small way.  People are the way they are for many reasons.  I hope to do more work in human services and am grateful for what Sheffield Place does for the Kansas City community.

Erin, Social Work

Friday, December 1, 2017

Why I Support Sheffield PlaceSusan Lytton, Council of Advisers

I have a bracelet that says "Redefine the Impossible". This is what the clients, client families, staff, donors, and volunteers are doing every single day at Sheffield Place.

About six years ago an invitation to “Off the Wall" was my first introduction to Sheffield. The next year when the Council of Advisers was created, I was happy to join in. At each meeting they had one of the clients come and share her story.  She started her introduction with her name and saying that her parents had introduced her to Meth at age twelve. The most recent "Off the Wall" fundraiser featured another client who had the same story.

I was around twelve years old when I had my first official volunteer gig assisting with Red Cross swim lessons. I'm reminded each time I visit Sheffield of the stark contrast between my story and those of the Sheffield women.  I am thankful to my parents for introducing me to the importance of giving back.

Two of my favorite events throughout the year are the "Women who make a difference” dinner and the back to school picnic. I like to think of the "Women who make a difference" dinner as more of a party each spring where the clients honor a woman in their life that have helped them along the way. The women honored in the past have been family members, classmates, best friends, teachers, and clergy. I have been involved with the dinner for the past five years with help from Cindy, Peggy, Emily, Becky, and Jenny. We have a fun theme, buffet dinner, and goodie bags are sent home with each mom. The clients are very supportive of each other when introducing their guests and telling their stories.

The back to school picnic is held in August and starts out the school year on a positive note. Backpacks and school supplies are given to each of the children after our cookout of hamburgers and hotdogs.

A big thank you to all who are helping the clients "Redefine the Impossible" so they can be safe today and strong tomorrow.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Why I Support Sheffield Place
Maureen Purcell, Advisory Council Member, Past Board President

There was a time in my life when I stood on the precipice of becoming homeless with a disabled husband and two young children.  With the help of others and by the grace of God, I was able to stay under my own roof.  I will never forget my lesson about the vicious cycle of poverty and the importance of getting help that break out of that cycle. When I was firmly established in my new happy life, I discovered Sheffield Place, a place that could have been my home at one point in my life.  I joined the Board in 2006 and have been a steady contributor to help women with children who find themselves in the place I almost was – homeless.  I view it as my way to give hope to women as I was once given by others.  I know the huge difference it can make in to have such support until lives can be turned around.  

Over my time and involvement with Sheffield Place, I have seen it grow from a single facility with 20 units supporting 20 families and their children to serving over 130 families a year.  In addition to housing, Sheffield Place also provides therapy, case management and group sessions on effective parenting, mindfulness, nutrition, and money management.  The number of hours these services have grown from 3 hours a week to 23 hours a week.  

What I love about Sheffield Place is that they serve the entire family and integrate services that address all the aspects that created the homelessness.  Unlike some shelters, the program offers shelter and supportive service such as intensive therapy, addiction recovery, and life skills training for as long as needed to stabilize the family, has some permanent housing available as well as ongoing supportive services beyond their time within the Sheffield Place housing.  This gives the family the best possible environment and support to make permanent changes to a healthier lifestyle.

I feel so grateful to be considered part of the Sheffield Place family.  I hope others will consider joining us to contribute to create better lives for the women and children Sheffield Place serves.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why I Support Sheffield Place - Scott Mathews, Board Member

Why I Support Sheffield Place by Scott Mathews, Board Member

Why do I support Sheffield Place as a volunteer and board member? Simple answer…my family and I believe in the concept of “Do to Get”, which means one must perform the work to get the reward.  For me, that is the most appealing aspect of Sheffield Place.  It is a haven for homeless women and children. It is a welcoming, safe, steady, supportive environment with a wonderful and talented professional staff and dedicated volunteers trained to welcome homeless mothers and their children, assess their critical needs and then provide programs to counsel, educate, support, and develop such women to ultimately develop them to become productive members of society…equipped with new skills allowing them to navigate the real world, earn a living through stable work, make wise and informed decisions, and most importantly care for their families.

Here is what Sheffield Place is not.  It is not a handout.  It is not a free ride.  It is not a “gift”.  It does not promote a mindset evident in some social and charitable programs, well-intentioned but misguided, that throw money at an issue, providing short term relief perhaps but not addressing the core issues. The Sheffield Place path is not an easy path.  There are rules, chores, responsibilities and other commitments.  If a mother is willing to invest in herself, Sheffield Place provides the tools to help her get to a better place, but she must commit to the program.  She must “do to get”.  That is what I love about Sheffield Place.  Andrew Carnegie once said, “There is no use whatsoever trying to help people who do not help themselves.  You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself”.  This to me is the essence of Sheffield Place.

To see this model in action energizes me and gives me hope for the future.  I would urge anyone interested to attend the periodic ceremony where Sheffield Place recognizes the select group of women who have completed the residential program and stabilized their lives. These women typically speak for a few minutes about their life condition when they arrived at Sheffield Place, how the program helped them, and how their current situation has improved due to guidance from Sheffield Place.  The mothers all agree that the process is hard work.  But these short presentations always include key phrases such as gratitude, hope, fellowship, employment, stability, emotional control, and benefits to children...all positive and forward-looking comments.  It is the most powerful event I have ever attended and it humbles me and makes me proud at the same time.  A Canadian farmer named Nelson Henderson once said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit”.  This is a fitting analogy to the mission and efforts of Sheffield Place and I am honored to be a small part of this process.

Scott Mathews

Sheffield Place Board Member

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Why I support the mission of Sheffield Place - Nate Vander Hamm

Why I support the mission of Sheffield Place

by Nate Vander Hamm, Board President

I have never been homeless a day in my life.  Other than a few random days in college when I was trying to get by on very little income, I’ve never really been hungry either.  I’ve also never known a world in which I didn’t have the support of two parents who cared about me deeply as well as siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and eventually my wife and children.  Throughout most of my life, I thought this was how everyone lived… at least, here in the heartland of America.  During the same time, if someone had asked me the major cause of homelessness, I likely would have responded that it was due to laziness, or drugs and alcohol abuse. 

Despite my lack of real knowledge of homelessness, I have also always had a desire to help others.  I was raised to believe (and still do believe) in the direction given to the very early Christian Church to care for widows and orphans, as these were the most disadvantaged individuals in their communities.  In considering who is the most disadvantaged in our society today, it is difficult to find a group with more pervasive and fundamental challenges than homeless mothers and their children. 

The more I learned about homelessness the more I’ve learned how grossly inaccurate my previous understanding of the causes of homelessness were.  I’ve also learned how many of our society’s current attempts to assist the homeless come up short.  Many of the other programs that exist could be compared to bandages used to treat a head wound.  While they do help with part of the issue, they don’t cure the underlying critical problems, which is what Sheffield Place strives to do.  Sheffield Place is more than just a building to provide shelter to a few families.  It doesn’t just give them time to “get back on their feet.”  It is a program to help women who are committed to working to improve their lives and the lives of their children.  It allows them to accomplish so much more than just getting by, or just surviving. 

I love the fact that what we do is help make the lives of the families better over the long run.  We don’t attempt to offer short term solutions.  The real success of our program is felt in the years, and generations that follow after a family graduates.