Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sheffield Place is Promise
A message from Kelly Welch, Executive Director

For the homeless women and their young children that the program serves, Sheffield Place is promise.  Promise is defined as:

1. Declaration that something will be done.
Sheffield Place provide services that address homelessness, trauma, mental health and substance abuse. Through our groups, individual therapy, and supportive housing, our       families receive declaration that something will be done to address the many issues that have    resulted in their current situation of homelessness and despair. Our promise to our families is that if they engage in services, they will acquire self-sufficiency, housing, income, and improved health.

2. An express assurance
All of the services provided by Sheffield Place focus on identifying and addressing    trauma—abuse, violence, homelessness— so that our families can improve their health to move forward. Trauma informed care recognizes that while everyone experiences trauma in their lives, the sheer volume of trauma that our families have experienced is overwhelming to the point of being unable to function. Sheffield Place provides safe, secure, supportive housing for families. Often it is the first time they have been in a place where safety is assured.

3. Indication of future excellence or achievement
The vast majority (90%) of families that complete the program are successful in          becoming self-sufficient, strong families. Sheffield Place helps families to visualize and reach a promising future.

After 20 years of service to more than 2,100 women and children, Sheffield Place’s promise to the community is to enhance and expand services to serve more families.

In the past year—

· The number of required program service hours has expanded substantially. This expansion is made possible through the addition of groups, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, HIV risk reduction, parenting, music therapy, mentoring, pet therapy and financial literacy.

· Sheffield Place began offering health care services onsite to mothers and children.

· Sheffield Place recently inaugurated a structured case management pilot program to serve former residents who have completed the program (aftercare), as well as to families before they enter the program (outreach).

· We have developed a new community garden onsite to teach residents about the nutritional and therapeutic value of gardening.

So far in 2011, we have served 40 families through inpatient services and ten families in aftercare services. In total, Sheffield Place has served more than double the number of families served the previous year.

It is only with the support of volunteers, community agencies, corporations, foundations, the faith community, schools, youth groups, government agencies, civic groups, and YOU that Sheffield Place can fulfill our promise to homeless families and their children. Thank you for all that you do to assure a promising future to homeless mothers and their children.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Homelessness - An 8th Grader's View of a National and Local Crisis


I live in the suburbs, yes. So people I know sometimes just think that it’s weird whenever they see a homeless person or make fun of them. I think that is wrong. It’s wrong because these people from school and sports and friends judge homeless people because of their appearance. They don’t understand what has happened to these people, and some just don’t care. It saddens me.

I remember one of my friends has this crazy mom. This mom is so crazy, judgmental, and a whole bunch of other things you wouldn’t like to be. Well anyway, she’s scared of homeless people. She’s so afraid of their “abnormality” and thinks that they’re just bad people in general. But the truth is, even if you’re a “bad” person, you don’t deserve to be homeless.  Back to the crazy lady; well she kind of raised her kids to be the same way. 

I mean, do you think people go around saying, “Oh golly. I hate my job. I’ll be homeless instead.”  No. That’s not how it works. Some of the reasons why people are homeless are because they lose their job, get evicted, or domestic violence. 

What’s annoying about this is that maybe if her kids take her seriously; when they have kids they’ll pass along the message and then their kids, and so on. And if you think about it, that’s only ONE family. So think if there’s a million other families out there that think the same thing: Homeless people=bad.

I couldn’t even imagine what it’s like to be homeless. But that doesn’t mean you or I should pity homeless people. We should all try to help them instead. You can help by volunteering at shelters, donating money and clothes to the shelter, feeding the homeless on Outreach or at a soup kitchen. It might surprise you, but it’s actually fun helping people. It just makes you feel better about yourself and you know you helped someone in need; at least that’s how I feel whenever I help out.  So go out and help today.J

Together We Can

The color of the blackish hue forms a colossal
Depressed thought,
This is what we have done to our world,
Broken cities,
Broken hopes and dreams,
A broken place to live.

No one helping,
All cheating,
People fighting,
No one caring,
People lying,
Little kids crying,
People dying.

But when we help each other,
Together we can
Feed the starving,
House the homeless,
Clean the Earth,
Make our world anew.

Yiken Jongerius is an 8th grade student who is also an active volunteer for agencies that serve the homeless.  Sheffield Place is grateful for her perspective and insight.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Understanding Homelessness

What do an alcoholic former firefighter, a 56 year old veteran with schizophrenia,  an 18 year old girl with a newborn, and a mom, dad and 2 kids have in common?  They are all homeless in Kansas City.  The causes of homelessness include mental illness, substance abuse, unemployment, eviction, poverty, domestic violence, and lack of insurance. 

When most people think of homelessness they visualize a single unkempt man in his 50s with a substance abuse problem who lives under a bridge and flies a sign on the street corner.  Many don’t stop to think how did he get under the bridge?  Where is his family?  Did he have a job?   Some of the kindest, most gracious people I know are chronically homeless.  Circumstance and trauma in their lives have led them to their bridge.
How many of us stop and think about the homeless man on the corner?  The man, a  veteran, who served multiple tours as a special forces sniper who now suffers from schizophrenia and post traumatic stress syndrome.  His paranoia makes it difficult for him to seek treatment for his illness and his PTSD makes being around people trying.  It is challenging for him to get services.  Without medication and treatment, it is impossible for him to get housing.

Most people don’t think of a teen who ran away when she was 14 years old to escape sexual abuse and beatings as one of the homeless.  A girl who, despite many obstacles, completed high school and doesn’t use drugs.  This girl is an excellent parent and highly motivated to improve her life so that her daughter doesn’t grow up the same way. 

Often a family with 2 parents and 2 children isn’t the “typical” face of homelessness.  The dad lost his job when his employer was forced to close the shop.  The mom can’t work due to health problems. The family lost their apartment when the landlord stopped making payments and the building was foreclosed.  The priority for the family is staying together.  They have no health insurance, no place to stay and despite looking daily for work, no employment. 

Homelessness can impact anyone at any time.  Nationally it is estimated that 3.5 million people experience homelessness.  Additionally,  1 in 50 children is homeless annually.  Homelessness negatively impacts every aspect of a child’s life – education, health, mental health, nutrition, family, and development. 

Homelessness is a complex issue that requires thoughtful, comprehensive services.  There is no easy or quick fix.  It is not a problem that belongs only to one group of people; it belongs to the entire community.  The homeless aren’t scary strangers.  They are our neighbors, our friends, our family.  They are us.

Kelly Welch, Executive Director