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.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reflections of the Students from James Madison University (Go Dukes!) who Spent Spring Break at Sheffield Place



1. I really enjoyed my time volunteering at Sheffield Place. Being able to interact with the mothers and children here were some of my favorite times during this week, especially hearing some of the mothers' stories and how their time at Sheffield Place has helped them to become self-sufficient. Sheffield Place does an amazing job of working with the mothers to help them with life skills and day-to-day basics that are often learned through observing family members when growing up, which many of these mothers did not have. The services they provide here are so important in that they give the women a way out of their previous lifestyle and push them to


really work hard for themselves and for their children. Overall, I'm really happy that I decided to spend my week here working with an agency that works really hard to help women and their children.

2. I wasn't sure what to expect when I came to volunteer at Sheffield place. Once I started interacting with the moms and their children, my anxiety melted away. Each mom has her own story, and upon talking to them, I realized they are a friend, sister, aunt, teacher, mom, person. They could have very well been one of my loved ones. The children at Sheffield place are spunky, intelligent, kind individuals who just want some love and attention. My afternoons consisted of watching the giant smiles of the toddlers as I caught them at the bottom of the slide, listening to the older children talk about their passions with light in their eyes, and watching peace settle on the infants as I rocked them to sleep. I came to Sheffield place, a year away from teaching in my very own classroom, and I walk away from this experience having gained insight into the resilience children have and knowledge about the individuals who could be the future parents and students I will have the chance to work with. 

3. This week at Sheffield Place has been an amazing experience!! We have spent the week serving the community by picking up the trash on the surrounding streets, cleaning the empty rooms and kitchens in the facility, and clearing out the storage unit that had suffered from flooding this past year. The best part about my experience here at Sheffield has been playing with the amazing group of kids and getting to talk to the mothers. The children here are so bright, so well behaved, and so fun to be around. They have so many intelligent ideas and aspirations in life and I pray they get to live out all of their dreams when they get older. The mothers are so devoted to their children and so devoted to trying their best to create a better life for their kids. Getting to sit down and talk with them one on one has been one of the most special experiences ever because each one has such a unique and interesting story. I am so happy that I chose to come to Sheffield for my alternative spring break trip; these women and children have such a special place in my heart and serving them has made this the best spring break I have ever had. 

4. This past week at Sheffield Place, my expectations of the facility and its people were exceeded. The five days I volunteered here I was able to interact with mothers and children with different starts to their journey of life and dreams for their futures. By far my favorite memory was moving a mother and her daughter into a new house Sheffield Place had renovated for a family to be housed in for aftercare just down the street from the facility. Not only was the house beautiful with new flooring, bright colored walls, and quality donated furniture - the woman moving in was beautiful with the smile on her face looking at the house she would call home after experiencing homelessness. Her genuine appreciation for volunteers helping her moving in, the staff at Sheffield Place and its services was evident. I also enjoyed Project Hope in the evenings where we were able to spend time with the children. Their intelligence, politeness, and talents kept a smile on my face! I am thankful for experiencing the authentic Sheffield Place this past week and Ms. Kelley for welcoming our group so graciously.


5. My time here at Sheffield Place truly exceeded all of my expectations. I was nervous in anticipation of what I was walking into, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed almost every second of my time here. I got to witness a mother who had been living here in the shelter for 13 months with her daughter move in to her first & see how excited they were to start their new life that Sheffield Place helped to build. I helped 2 other moms & their children move into the center & see the hope in their as they walked in to the facility that could change their life. It was my pleasure to help out around the shelter in any way that I could, especially in the Project Hope center for the kids. Every single one of those kids is bright & funny & well behaved & I hope that they too are gaining the confidence they need to be able to reach their full potential in life & challenge any stereotypes that may be placed upon them. The staff here is realistic as well as optimistic, giving the women the proper tools & guidance they need to be able to be self sufficient and successful in their futures. It is obvious how dedicated these people are to the task at hand & I admire that. Every person in this building was inspiring in their own way, & I hope that they all continue to grow & develop & succeed in their mission. 

6. This week has been one for the books. With our near 15 hour drive from Virginia we started our Alternative Spring Break off well getting to know one another! I was excepting a week that would pull on my heartstrings and this week with Sheffield Place sure did that. 

The week was spent doing a combination of manual labor needed to improve Sheffield Place and the surrounding community as well as interacting with the mothers and children. Things such as a garbage pick up, cleaning and reassembling of rooms, gardening and organizing all contributed to serving Sheffield Place in the best way possible. 

We jumped right in on Monday morning moving a family in to a Sheffield Place home. The mother was more than appreciative and working right along side us to get her new home furnished. Later in the week we ran into the mother and her child, who had been in childcare during the move in, and she shared with us how much she loved her home and had been enjoying time there. 

Interacting with the women was such a highlight of my week. These women are more than just mothers. They were something before they arrived at Sheffield Place and they will be something after they leave Sheffield Place. They are caring, capable, intelligent, beautiful women who are providing so much to their children. They have come to Sheffield Place to lead themselves and therefore their children to a better, safer, and healthier life. We were able to have lunch with a few women and interact with them in passing and as they moved in to Sheffield Place. 

Each afternoon was spent in Project Hope, the child care center. Throughout the week we formed incredible bonds with the children through playing outside (it was an exceptionally warm week in March) doing crafts, reading, journaling, snacking and playing games. These children are all intelligent, well mannered, enthusiastic, energy filled young humans. 

This week was eye opening, inspirational, and heartwarming among other things. These children and mothers are exceptional in unique ways and I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to serve Sheffield Place through the James Madison University Alternative Break Program. 

7. 
Sheffield Place far exceeded my expectations. This facility provides many resources for women and their children who are experiencing homelessness. Not only do they provide a place for them to sleep, eat, and bathe, they also provide many different groups that teach them how to be self-sufficient--anywhere from coping skills to exercising and cooking healthy meals to fixing their cars--they are helping these women and their children build a life full of independence and self-sufficiency for themselves. They go far beyond their call to duty by buying and fixing houses on the same block as Sheffield Place so these families can transition into a life of their own. It's creating a community where they will never feel out of place but can still have this sense of pride because they're building a life for themselves in a place they can officially call their own. My favorite part of my week volunteering here was of course getting to play with all the children, but also being able to talk to the mothers and hear their stories. They all have been on such different and amazing journeys, I felt so honored that they wanted to open up and share them with us. The children here are like no others, they are so full of light and intelligence and have so many goals and aspirations for their lives. Despite where they are now, they still manage have mostly positive outlooks on life. Sheffield Place will always be in my heart, I could never forget the mothers and children I've met here and I could not be more grateful to have spent my Spring Break helping this facility.

8. Volunteering at Sheffield Place has been a great experience. As a current social work major, it has been so neat to see everything that goes on behind the scenes. It's one thing to learn about concepts in a classroom, but it's another to actually see them implemented in real life. With that said, the executive director, Kelly Welch, is a superhero. From running the business, to interacting with clients on a personal level and being involved in every aspect of the program, she really does it all. With help from other great staff members, including therapists, case managers, an intake specialist, and the program director, Kelly has truly made Sheffield Place a successful program. 

While I really enjoyed being exposed to social work, I also had a blast getting to know the clients and children of Sheffield Place. It was such a great opportunity to have lunch with clients and attend Project Hope with the children. It was awesome to see the many different demographics of the families who come to Sheffield. I will never forget the people I was able to meet through this program. The women are so humble and welcoming, and the kids are very well-behaved and smart. I loved getting to know the residents and hearing their stories. I will never forget my time volunteering at Sheffield Place.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Why I Support the Mission of Sheffield Place

by Julie Lattimer, Board Treasurer

I became involved with Sheffield Place in 1997 as a placement through the Junior League of Kansas City.  I chaired a committee that volunteered with Project Hope.  Each week, I would go down to Project Hope and work as a tutor, help with craft projects, or just read stories to the little ones. 

It was while reading a story that a little boy, Ronald, announced to me that living here was the first time he had a bed.  A bed?  I thought everyone had a bed!  I asked him where he slept before he lived at Sheffield Place; and he said on the floor, the grass and in Mommy’s car.  Ronald was so cute and loveable, and so very proud of that bed.  It was then that I knew this was an organization with which I needed to be involved.  I joined the Board of Directors where I have served as Treasurer, Vice President and President. 

The work Sheffield Place does every day is amazing.  The lives that are changed for women and children gives them the opportunity to have a life with a job and a home—a life they can be proud of with healthy and happy children.  I am proud to be a part of such an incredible organization.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why I Support the Mission of Sheffield Place Skyler Phelps, Board Vice President & Secretary


I have a lot to be thankful for and frankly felt selfish for not recognizing it by helping others.

My business partner was transitioning off the Sheffield Place Board of Directors to serve the community in other capacities and didn’t want to leave without identifying a replacement. He introduced me to Sheffield Place’s mission “To empower homeless mothers and their children to heal from their trauma and help them become self-sufficient”. I visited the facility to learn about their programs, staff and the families served and decided to apply for a position on the Board. My application was accepted and I began serving in January 2006.   

I confess that my involvement in the beginning was kind of mechanical. I was “giving back” because it was cosmetically the right thing to do. I know…not a great character testament, but it’s the naked truth. What I was not expecting was to be blindsided by an intense feeling of belonging to something bigger than myself and using my time to join others in making a meaningful difference in the lives of those in desperate need of healing and opportunity.

My breakthrough with the organization happened several months after I began serving. To better connect the Board of Directors with the organization’s mission and the families served, time was set aside during board meetings for Sheffield Place clients to share stories about their lives including where they came from, how they were raised, how they were traumatized, how they became homeless and how Sheffield Place’s programs were helping empower them to break the generational cycle of abuse and homelessness. Those stories galvanized my commitment to the mission of Sheffield Place and the mothers and children we serve.

Many of us have a lot to be thankful for. My encouragement to all is to celebrate it by getting involved in making someone else’s life better. Being a part of Sheffield Place is very rewarding and really has changed my life. I invite you to join our struggle and celebrate each success.


“It is raining still... Maybe it is not one of those showers that is here one minute and gone the next, as I had so boldly assumed. Maybe none of them are. After all, life in itself is a chain of rainy days. But there are times when not all of us have umbrellas to walk under. Those are the times when we need people who are willing to lend their umbrellas to a wet stranger on a rainy day. I think I'll go for a walk with my umbrella.”
— Sun-Young Park

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Michigan State Spartans 

Spend a Week at Sheffield Place over Winter Break


Our time at Sheffield Place is an experience we will never forget. Going into our first day on the job, we really didn’t know what to expect- what were the mothers going to be like and what caused them to be homeless? How successful is this facility? What kind of treatments and activities do they provide? However, as the week went on we realized how truly incredible this place is. Between the hard working, passionate, and kind staff and the amazingly strong and inspirational mothers, Sheffield Place is irreplaceable and nearly impossible to describe.


The fact that this place is not only a homeless shelter, but also a treatment and rehabilitation center is unbelievably outstanding. Sheffield Place has shown us that everyone deserves a second chance to get back on their feet and to reestablish themselves. Our experience this past week has changed how we view this population and given us perspective that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Though our time with Sheffield Place has been short and we are truly saddened to be leaving so soon, we are ecstatic to take what we have learned this week and bring it back to Michigan with us. Sheffield Place has reminded us that there is still good in this world- there are still people who want to help. Sheffield has restored a lot of hope back into our lives and for that we are forever grateful.

Thank you for being an inspiration in our lives, thank you for being a source of hope. Not only for us, but also for the hundreds of families you have served and the hundreds you will continue to serve. Thank you for an extraordinary week, we wish you success and happiness for everyone in and out of Sheffield.

Blessings,
MSU Alternative Winter Breakers
January 2017


Tuesday, January 17, 2017



Thank you to Pembroke Hill Students for Spending Time at Sheffield Place!

[Students from Pembroke Hill spent two days at Sheffield Place during the first week of January.  They performed a variety of tasks, including cleaning, organizing, and working with the children, among others.  Here are reflections from the students which have been edited for length.]

Student 1
This week being exposed to homelessness in Kansas City was one of the most eye opening experiences I've ever had in my life. Going to Sheffield Place really opened my eyes especially when we were playing with the kids that lived there because it was so hard to know that these kids may not have known where their next meal or next home would come from. It really made me understand the plight of the homeless because throughout my whole life I have had what I’ve needed and have never had to worry about where my next meal would come from.

Student 2
Even though we scrubbed floors on the first day, Sheffield Place was really interesting. I loved working with the kids the second day. Interacting with the kids opened my eyes and gave me a sense of their background.

Student 3
Sheffield Place focuses on helping traumatized mothers and families to get through their difficult pasts and move on. During my recent visit I got to see the work they do and the amount of people they continuously help. One of my favorite moments was when we spent time with the children in the daycare downstairs. This really shed light onto the lives of these children and how the small amount of work we did truly benefitted them. The children were so happy that we were there and it made my heart happy to help them.  We cleaned their toys and organized a closet during our time in the daycare. These two things made a huge difference and made the women’s jobs easier.

The feeling of helping these families made me want to continue to serve others around me constantly. Talking to the families also showed me that there is a large homeless population and all of them need help. The work of the Sheffield Place treats the single mothers in therapy and teaches them to move on and live on their own. I felt a sense of inspiration through these women and how they still stand tall although they have been through unimaginable traumas. Sheffield Place constantly strengthens these families and gives them a new home and a way to start fresh. The week of community service gave me a greater view of Kansas City and the lesser fortunate. I learned that helping the less fortunate is a wonderful thing and makes me feel so much greater inside. Lastly I want to thank the Sheffield Place and the other organizations for letting us come and learn about what they do.

Student 4
Too often when homelessness is pictured, the first thing that comes to mind is a man of the street begging for money. For most . . . the only interaction with the homeless is walking by disheveled men with long beards pleading for money, homeless women and children only existing in concept. The issue of homelessness is sometimes swept aside as merely an issue of leeches try to squeeze every last dollar from the American taxpayer.

The homelessness in Kansas City class however, provided a different face to the homeless, and an opportunity to help those in need. From Sheffield’s Place to ReStart, the faces seen were young beaten or abused, and in hopeless financial duress due to payday loans and other debts, the expenses of child care, or a crippling drug addiction. The public however, likes to pretend these people don’t exist. It is much more comfortable to think that way, to not think of the less fortunate, and forever to think inside the confines of the suburbs of Kansas City. This way of thinking is the very reason why this class is so important. Without this class or a similar experience, change is improbable. There would be no questioning of the law, which tends to punish the poor with harsh drug policies and other laws, or our politicians which enact those laws.

Student 5
The first shelter we visited catered to [homeless] women and children. The organization was called Sheffield's Place, and my favorite part of visiting was the income activity. Everyone had a made up income of $1600, the leader then shared with everyone all the expenses it takes for the women to provide for their family. It was very eye opening because the income women receive, is less than what it takes to [live] and care for their children. I really enjoyed this week because I was able to spend time with people I would have never known, and I discovered so many wonderful organizations helping people.

Student 6
I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to volunteer at such amazing shelters. I was very shocked to go to Sheffield Place and learn how much homeless individuals lack basic skills such as budgeting and parenting skills. The mission of those who work at Sheffield Place is to help all of the women get a job and to teach the families how to work together in order to get a job and work hard in order to rebuild their self confidence and rejoin society. I think that Shefield does a very good job of teaching the women they serve all the skills they need in order to get back up on their feet. The layout of Sheffield Place is very nice. I really like how each family has an apartment and shares a kitchen with others. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Why I'm Committed to the Mission of Sheffield Place

By The Honorable Courtney Wachal, Past Board President

My name is Courtney Wachal.  I was accepted the Sheffield Place board of directors in February, 2013. 

I became aware of an opening on the Sheffield Place board of directors through the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, where the vacancy left by Judge Margene Burnett, former board member and current member of the council of advisors, was announced.  I was working as a municipal prosecutor for the city of Kansas City, and had previously served as a public defender in the greater Kansas City area. 

Sheffield Place is a shelter for homeless mothers and their children.  As a former public defender and prosecutor, I am aware of some of the struggles that these mothers endure.  They are often victims of domestic v
iolence, suffering from mental illness, struggling with substance abuse – all of which are exacerbated by homelessness and poverty.  One of my greatest frustrations is the lack of resources to help these women deal with these issues.  Treatment programs have long waits to get in, and then only last 28 days.  This is not enough time to get sober, let alone deal with the number of problems an addict becomes aware of once they reach sobriety and stop self-medicating.  Also, these programs do not allow the mothers to stay with their children. 

Sheffield Place offers comprehensive treatment to empower homeless women to become self-sufficient.  A woman who successfully completes their program is not just sober.  They have the tools to maintain their sobriety, mental and physical health, and independence.  They are employed.  They receive services to become better parents.  Sheffield Place takes the time to ensure that the women that complete their program leave with all of the tools to live a quality life – which takes over a year in many cases.  Once the women leave, they have the support of after care services.

I am unaware of any program that addresses the comprehensive needs of homeless mothers and their children, taking as much time as is needed to do it right, like Sheffield Place.  I am committed to their mission.