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. 

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