Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Michigan State University Alternative Break Students Serve Families at Sheffield Place!

Students from MSU recently spent a week of their Winter Break at Sheffield Place performing a variety of tasks.  Here are some of the reflections they shared, quoted in whole or in part.

Volunteering at Sheffield Place during our winter break was a really touching and meaningful experience to me. I think that the activities we did at the beginning of our time here really helped establish a good idea of why being homeless was such a though situation to escape. Throughout the week we continued to help Sheffield with some smaller tasks such as raking yards, manage the gardens, build bunk beds, and deep clean. Although these were smaller tasks the staff was extremely appreciative and made sure we knew that the smaller tasks were sometimes the most helpful.

My favorite task was interacting with the children at the end of the day. The joy and energy they brought into the Project Hope program always lifted my spirits. The little things the children said and did always had me laughing. For example, one of my friends on this trip was pretending to be talking on the phone to one of the little girls. A few minutes into the “conversation” one of the little boys started to talk a little louder so the little girl turns to the boy and says, “shhhhh” with her finger to her mouth. She also adds in a whisper, “I’m talking on the phone.” The innocence and willingness to interact with us touched me.

I think along with the children the client who talked with us and her openness and willing to share her story with us was really impactful. She helped us understand the struggles that they are going through and their determination to overcome these struggles which really showed us how strong a lot of these women are. I wish the mothers and their children the best and I know with Sheffield’s Place these women will do great thing!

Allison, Microbiology Major

My time at Sheffield Place has been so much different than I had expected.  When I say different, I mean it in a great way.  I had honestly expected it to be somewhat of a shelter, when in reality it is so much greater and deeper than that.  It has been so heartwarming to see that Sheffield Place really cares about and works with the women and children.  If only there were more places like this, the world would be a much better place.  I’ve never seen a group of people or even an organization for that matter work so in-depth and hard to help women with addicition, mental health, and family.  The way that everyone here has.  It’s great to see that the focus is not only on today, tomorrow, and the near future, but also on the long term goals.  The lsrgest difference between Sheffield Place and everywhere else is how well rounded their staff and their resources are.  I was amazed by all of the help and services that are provided right here on the property.  Another really great thing that caught my attention is how the agency wants the women to have great success when they are ready for life away from the agency.  The fact that houses are bought and fixed for the women to start a new and healthy life is so great to me.  While working with a staff member this week, I feel like I got a different and more in-depth view of how the facility functions.  Everyone works for the success of the women and children.  The children are a whole different dimension of the operation.  We spent a decent amount of time in the children’s program, which was such a fun and joyful experience.  The women that run the program are so talented and work so well to teach the kids how to work with others and listen to directions.  Overall, there are so many incredible dimensions that come together to form a wonderful program.  I hope that more communities notice the work and progress of Sheffield Place and follow in the footsteps to make the world a much greater place!  Thank you for this opportunity.

Emily, Biomedical Laboratory Sciences and Spanish

I have learned a lot from my experience at Sheffield Place, and I will take back with me a new understanding of service.  When I arrived, I rationalized that service is an option that some of us choose to do, while others tend not to.  However, Sheffield Place has opened my eyes to the ideal that service is an attitude we manifest.  Through the week, the women are able to not only learn the skills and lessons needed in life, but also understand the beauty in helping others.  It is the overall attitude of the agency that creates an environment of perseverance. 
Steven, Human Biology

Coming to Sheffield Place really opened my eyes to the trauma some people have to experienced and the strength it takes on a daily basis to push on.  The staff, mothers, and children have inspired me more than anything else in my 20 years of life.  Hearing these women’s stories and seeing how far they’ve come is truly breathtaking.  The hope that lives inside Sheffield’s door is something that I believe should exist everywhere.
Phoebe, Physiology major/Chinese minor

I feel the structure that Sheffield Place has is excellent and keeps the clients on track.  My time has been eye opening meeting families and learning their stories.  The staff have been amazing by sharing a part of their story and helping us feel like part of their family.
Matias, Social Work major

For me, hearing the stories showed me how strong a mother can be for herself and her children.  The kids were amazing to hang out with and develop a friendship.  I enjoyed hearing one high schooler’s plan for college and her determination to further her education at college.  It’s a memory that I’ll always remember fondly.

Katie, Neuroscience

While listening to a client speak, it really opened my eyes that addiction can start at a young age especially encouraged by family members.  Listening to her and her goals of getting custody of her older child as well as getting her truck drivers license was inspiring.  I loved working with the children and getting to see them interact with their moms. 
Morgan, Social Work

My perspective on poverty, addiction, and mental health has completely changed.  Sheffield Place opened my eyes to not only the trauma these women face, but also the long and mentally straining process towards recovery.  Despite hardships, they still were looking up and it’s so beautiful and gratifying to see them smiling with their children. 

Choe, Fisheries and Wildlife, Marine Biology

Sheffield Place has an atmosphere like none I have ever experienced.  The staff is caring, compassionate, resourceful, and extremely well trained.  You can feel their passion for not only helping the clients, but also allowing themselves to grow along with the clients they serve.  Their passion is contagious.  I will never forget the kind-hearted nature of the workers, the seet smiles and willingness to share of the mothers, and the excitement, smiles, and innocent nature of the children.
Kendra, Social Work

Overall, it was amazing to hear about how far the mothers have come and about their growth.  Sheffield Place is an extraordinary place with a program that works to help families.

Kristen, Chemical Engineering

My time volunteering was eye opening.  After observing the mothers and children, I realized that everyone has struggles, some worse than others.  The children are cute, funny, and bring so much joy.  It felt good to be a part of something, even in a small way.  People are the way they are for many reasons.  I hope to do more work in human services and am grateful for what Sheffield Place does for the Kansas City community.

Erin, Social Work

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