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.

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.