Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pictures of Hope - SWAT Officer

Major Richard Smith of KCPD East Patrol (far right in photo) participated as a mentor at Pictures of Hope.  He shares his experience here.  

Walking into Sheffield Place, my mind was wondering what the day would hold.  This was my first experience with “mentoring” and I have no artistic ability whatsoever, and wondered if the young person assigned would quickly figure out both in no time.  I was lucky enough to meet several other mentors prior to meeting with the kids.  It was a great atmosphere, as everyone looked happy and ready to tackle the day.  A quick meeting with Linda Solomon helped to give us mentors a picture of the goal, helping kids articulate their hopes and dreams through a camera.  Linda read some inspirational cards that had been derived from this project, man the pressure was on now.  Marty Dahmer made a nice presentation, he let us all know that Chevrolet and Cable Dahmer Chevrolet was sponsoring the event with sincerity and conviction, traits that are rare in many charity events. 

The children were all given T-Shirts, only one kid said he would not put the shirt on.  Soon the mentors were called and the directed to the child they were going to mentor.  I approached Ken [not his real name] wondering if he was going to allow me to talk to him.  His head was down, he was the kid who would not put on the T- shirt and said to someone that he didn’t want to, and he seemed less than enthusiastic to have a cop in uniform next to him for the next couple of hours.  I talked with Ken and we worked through his hopes and dreams. I quickly realized he was much like me and stuck to typical boys’ hopes and dreams.  After some “getting to know each other time” I asked Ken if he would put on his T-shirt.  Since he has a particular hairstyle I demonstrated on how to roll the shirt up to the opening so he could just stick his head through without messing up his hair.   Trust was built! 

Our picture experience was as expected.  Ken learned how to use the camera as a video recorder and soon he was without any power in the camera.  Since the camera was dead our time at the park was spent playing rather than photographing.  Ken didn’t seem to mind.  Upon our return to Sheffield, I introduced Ken to a bullet proof vest and a gas mask.  I had no idea that anyone could be so cool by possessing these items.  Ken’s first words were, can you take my picture.  This was particularly important because Ken’s number one hope or dream was to be SWAT guy.   For Ken the best picture of hope was not across town but right in front of Sheffield, where Ken was the proudest Tactical Officer I had ever seen.   It was an awesome moment.

Becky [not her real name], Ken’s mom told me that he had recently been to a surplus store and Ken had wanted a gas mask that was displayed on a manikin.  Wow, sometimes cops are at the right place at the right time!  Ken and I ate lunch together and I promised him that he could use the mask for Halloween if he would  like.  Ken said that would be great. 

Ken taught me on how to be a mentor and we accomplished the goal.  We both had a rewarding experience, one that will last lifetime.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pictures of Hope - Bug Doctor

Thank you for an amazing experience with Pictures of Hope. My 18-year-old niece Jessica and I were mentors to Ben, who hopes to be a bug doctor. I told him the word for that is really big: entomologist. He said he wants to help bugs. 

So with Jeannette driving, we went to the Discovery Center on Troost near the Kauffman Foundation and Stowers Research Institute. Ben was in bug heaven. He was thrilled with his camera, and while only 6 years old, he figured it out really fast. He captured pictures of roly-polys and butterflies, bees and a baby bunny. 

The Discovery Center walking trail leads to a pond where he saw “cute little water bugs” that were captured quickly by the camera lens. Inside he took pictures of turtles and snakes, and even a tarantula. We met several conservation department teachers and workers who told him about their jobs. 

Then we went across the street to the Stowers Research Institute, where I told him the bug doctors look at little tiny bugs under microscopes. We met a researcher from India who studies muscle fiber. Then at the entrance to Stowers, we saw a sign carved into stone that seemed to sum it all up perfectly. “Hope is Life.”

Jessica, Jeannette and I were truly inspired by Ben’s passion for bugs, and life!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Corporate Colleagues Host a Dinner at Sheffield Place

If any part of you is skeptical that a program can help homeless mothers turn their lives around, then you really need to check out Sheffield Place. A few of my girlfriends and I had our husbands and children go with us to fund and cook a Saturday evening meal for the residents at Sheffield Place. Nothing big - just burgers, hotdogs and a couple of sides for about 10 women and 20 kids.

This turned out to be the best charitable event we have experienced. It was good to see that the Sheffield Place demands a lot from these women - no alcohol, no drugs, no staying out late. The mothers must care for and prepare meals for their children. Both the women and children attend daily in-house programs designed to improve their scholastic, developmental, behavioral, and social skills.

Sheffield Place is really a place of hope. Even my junior high school children realized that this was not just a government-hand-out-program for the poor. Sheffield Place is a place for healing and improvement. These women are very fortunate to get to live at Sheffield Place with their children, and we could sense they didn’t take it for granted. That is so refreshing.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sheffield Place Graduation

Sheffield Place held its annual graduation ceremony on June 10, 2014.  Thirteen graduates were honored.  To graduate the women must improve their education and job skills, improve their mental and physical health (including sobriety), improve their parenting skills, and have secured permanent housing.  The average time from start to graduation at Sheffield Place is five to six months.  Graduates received diplomas and a rose and were able to share their journey at Sheffield Place with the friends and family that came to support them.

                The graduation remarks made by the women were powerful, and truly demonstrated the positive, life changing impact that Sheffield Place has on its residents.  One of the graduates is enrolled in school to be an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing.  Another is starting at Penn Valley in the fall to be a substance abuse counselor.  All of them commented on their struggles with substance abuse and the remarkable changes that sobriety has brought to their lives.  A common theme was the effect that sobriety, combined with the parenting counseling offered at Sheffield Place, had on the relationships the mother’s had with their children.  Many of the women had regained or are in the process of regaining custody of children that had been removed from their home for issues with substance abuse.  One woman remarked, “Sheffield Place taught me how to be a mom, how to be sober, how to be a friend, and how to be me.”

                The stories of these women brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of how important it is that places like Sheffield Place exist in our community to give women who want to better themselves and their families the chance to do it.  I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of the graduates and encouragement to those who continue to work on self-sufficiency by availing themselves of the amazing resources that Sheffield Place has to offer.  Your strength and commitment is an inspiration to all of us!

Courtney Wachal

Sheffield Place Board of Directors – Vice-President

Here are the comments of one mother upon her transition from Sheffield Place to permanent housing in the community:

I am so grateful for everything the staff- all of you have done to help encourage, motivate and support me and my children along this journey. I know there were times I wasn’t the easiest to get along with and in the beginning it was really rough for my kids and me. It was just another temporary place. But Sheffield turned out to be our home and overtime we’ve come to love the staff.

I cannot say thank you enough for believing in me, especially when I didn’t. When we first came to Sheffield there were days that I wasn’t sure I would make it through, but you all pushed me to do the right thing and for that I am so thankful. 

I have rediscovered who I am. I have unlayered the core of my true self and my worth. Thank you so much. I know Sheffield place has impacted my family in such a way that we know when we leave Sheffield we have developed a strong foundation to continue to build on.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Each year, Sheffield Place hold the Women Who Make a Difference dinner to honor women who have made a difference in the lives of the mothers.  Sheffield Place also honors a woman who has made a difference for the families at Sheffield Place.  This year, we honored Nadine Horst, who has been a volunteer for 7 years.  She coordinates a monthly evening at Sheffield Place where she and her colleagues from Zurich make crafts with the children.  Nadine does many other things for Sheffield Place as well.  The essay below was written to describe Nadine's volunteer work at Sheffield Place.
Nadine Horst began volunteering at Sheffield Place in the summer of 2007. Initially her co-worker invited her to work on an art project for the Off the Wall Art Auction with the children who attend Project Hope at Sheffield. She had a great time and felt such a connection with the children that she wanted to be involved on a regular basis.

She asked the director if Sheffield Place would be interested in having a group of volunteers come to Project Hope on a regular basis. The volunteers would provide the guidance, the art supplies and an artistic outlet for the children. The director said that it sounded like a great idea.

Nadine sent communications at work to find a group of volunteers who care about children and were interested in participating on a monthly basis. Over the seven years that the Zurich group has volunteered the people have changed but the only month that was missed was due to inclement weather.

Each year, in addition to the art projects created monthly, the children of Sheffield Place provide children’s art for sale at the Off the Wall Art Auction. Nadine and some of the other Zurich volunteers provide the centerpieces and work at the art auction.

Nadine also co-chairs the Giving Tree project providing Christmas gifts for the families at Sheffield Place.

What keeps her coming back? It’s the children. She gets to know them and watch them grow emotionally and physically. They bring her joy and laughter and hugs. She doesn’t know why they were homeless or anything about their specific situation. Her goal is to have a positive impact on the children she and the Zurich volunteers work with.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thanks to all that attended the Sheffield Place Spring Social on March 6 at Quinton’s Waldo bar.  The Reynolds Law Firm sponsored the happy hour, which gave supporters the chance to socialize and meet others that work with Sheffield Place to help move single mothers and their children towards self-sufficiency.  

Special thanks to those that committed to being members of the Friends of Sheffield Place program.  A good time was had by all.  We will do it again soon!

Courtney Wachal
Sheffield Place Board of Directors

Monday, January 6, 2014

Starla in Charge – A Sheffield Place Graduate on the Job

Starla in Charge – A Sheffield Place Graduate on the Job
By Steve Ornduff

Moly-Cop, the global leader in hot forged steel grinding balls used by mining companies, operates a major manufacturing operation just a few blocks from Sheffield Place at the old Armco Steel site.  The President of Moly-Cop USA, Steve Ornduff, serves as a member of the Sheffield Place board of directors. 

In 2013, Moly-Cop completed a significant project to better secure entry into the plant site, including the construction of a perimeter fence and a main entry gate with a gate house.  We decided to hire a temporary employee to work as a gate attendant to help us control and monitor the volume and type of traffic entering the plant.  This traffic includes trucks to be loaded with finished product and delivery trucks.  The longer term plan was to perform this task through rotation of members of the shipping crew.

Initially, we attempted to fill this position by using temporary employment agencies, but the candidates presented were unimpressive.  We discussed this predicament in our weekly safety committee meeting and Norm Thomas, a member of our leadership team, suggested we approach some of the charitable organizations that operate in our area.  That’s when we contacted Kelly Welch at Sheffield Place, and after reviewing several candidates, she suggested we contact Starla Potter about the position.

Starla, with the support of Sheffield Place, recently became self-sufficient, but was still seeking good employment.  Most of her recent experience was in fast food at a very low wage, but she had past experience as an administrative assistant intern with the City of Kansas City and claimed to have excellent computer skills, including proficiency in Microsoft Office.  Kelly said that Starla was very motivated and a hard worker.  So, we decided to give her a chance and hired her as our gate attendant on October 14, 2013. 

Initially, the plan was for this to be a temporary position to be filled for only three or four months.  Within the first week, however, we could see that Starla was special.  In addition to performing her primary job, she took the initiative to better organize many of our records using MS Excel spreadsheets and MS Access databases.  When we discovered her proficiency in this area, we gave her many more tasks, including organizing our plant’s safety and quality assurance records.  She is now conducting all safety inductions for new visitors entering the main gate to the plant, and when doing so, she is definitely “in-charge,” even with salty old truck drivers. By all measures, she is doing an excellent job and has completed many value-added activities for our business.

At the end of December 2013, a long-time member of our team will be retiring.  One of his primary jobs is to perform shipping clerk activities, including generating Bill of Ladings for outgoing shipments and checking freight invoices for accuracy.  Starla is currently training to perform these activities and is a strong candidate to become a full-time employee with Moly-Cop.

Moly-Cop has benefited from the skills and work ethic Starla has brought to our company, and it is our hope that this relationship can continue for many years to come.