Thursday, October 24, 2019

Shannon’s journey to healing and self-sufficiency

Shannon shared her story at Off the Wall.  Thank you, Shannon, for inspiring attendees with your strength and determination.  To video featuring Shannon and her family, visit

“More than two years ago, I found out about Sheffield Place.  I had just gotten out of 120 days in prison as shock time for forgery and for resisting arrest.
“You see, I had been in and out of jail since I was 18.
  I was high all the time – meth, marijuana, alcohol – whatever was available.  Addiction was all I knew.  Both of my parents used drugs and had been in prison as well.  But I wanted a better life for myself and my daughters.

“I was discharged from prison to a half-way house and then came to Sheffield Place.   I was able to get daughters back.   At that point I thought – I can do this myself – so I didn’t really buy into the program for the first few weeks. 

“The staff helped me do better.  They came and got me for groups and worked with me on addiction recovery one-on-one in addition to groups.  One of the therapists worked on parenting with me and taught me how to be involved with my children and focus on the positive.  I just didn’t know how to do it, but I learned.  

“After two months at Sheffield Place, I got a job working at a local hotel.
“In November 2018, Sheffield Place offered me the opportunity to rent one of their houses.  I am grateful for the ongoing support and accountability that comes with it. 

“I celebrated 2 years of sobriety on September 13 of this year.

“Now I’m happy.  I have my children, a home, and a job.  I look forward to going back to school when my girls go to school.  We can all do our homework together.  I’d want to be a substance abuse counselor or enter another helping profession.
“Thank you, Sheffield Place, for helping me and my family have a healthy future.  Thanks to all of you for being here and for helping the many other moms who want to do what I’ve done.” 

Monday, June 17, 2019

From homelessness to homeownership - Misty's story

When my children and I walked through the doors at Sheffield Place three years ago, I had no idea what an impact it would make on my life. Sadly, I was lost and hurting with no idea where my life was headed.

You see, the story of my childhood is one of despair. My parents were alcoholics and addicted to drugs. As a result, my brothers and I suffered frequent mental and physical abuse at the hands of our step-father. We never had enough food and were constantly living without heat, electricity or water.

Evictions were common, resulting in a constant cycle of homelessness. We lived on people’s couches, in cars, even in tents at campgrounds. We never went to shelters though, because my parents said that they we horrible places.

So, you can imagine my apprehension when first coming to Sheffield. I had no idea what to expect.  Never did I think that I would be learning and growing there. I mean, before coming to Sheffield, I had issues that I didn’t even comprehend. Growing up, I was never taught about credit, budgeting or boundaries and it showed.

During my late teens and twenties when I was out on my own, I lived a damaging life. I made poor relationship choices and ended up raising three kids on my own. I made poor career choices and was perpetually unsuccessful. I made poor financial choices and was chronically homeless… just like my parents. Even though I didn’t have a drug problem and was always a good mommy, my adult life did feel somewhat like my childhood in that, I struggled to feed my children and couldn’t pay my bills.

Thankfully, Sheffield Place helped me break the cycle. First, through counseling I was able to identify boundary issues and heal from the traumas in my past. Through case management I was able to make plans to achieve the goals that I had previously been too broken to even acknowledge. Through mentoring I was able to define me that I wanted to be and move towards being a functional, happy person. Lastly, through the daily classes, I was taught how to become self-sufficient and maintain financial stability.

With a lot of hard work, and help from the Sheffield staff, I am now living my best life. I have a rewarding job, but I am also attending college courses online to continue my education and further my career. For the first time in my life, I have a budget and I am financially secure. Therefore, I am able to feed my children and pay my bills.  Plus, because I have been living in an extremely affordable Sheffield house for the last two years, I had the money to repair my credit. As a result, I have been approved for a home loan and I am currently looking to buy a house! With my past, I had never dreamed that home-ownership would be possible.

Because of Sheffield Place, my future looks brighter than I had even imagined. You all pushed me to dream big, to work hard and to believe in myself. Then, you helped me to develop the skills that I needed to succeed. Now, my family is happier and healthier than ever before. My children and I thank you.

With love,


Postscript - On June 14, Misty completed the purchase of a house for her family.  She is now a homeowner just a few years after being homeless.  

Monday, June 10, 2019

A Volunteer Shares His Experience Working with Sheffield Place Moms

In my experience, Sheffield Place is one of the best and most effective social service agencies I have ever seen. They work with a group of people who have many issues including being abused at all levels as a child and adult, who are homeless, substance abuse issues, no income, and have not had the opportunity to develop sound decision making skills.

This is a very difficult group to have success with. Sheffield Place provides a place to live that is safe and has reasonable rules that are enforced. Sheffield Place teaches good emotional growth, good judgement skills, and good coping skills. Each resident has a chance to learn what they need to become a functioning adult with the skills to live in society and be an effective parent.

The staff is hard working and streetwise enough to know when someone is trying to avoid responsibility. Sheffield Place requires each resident go to groups, engage in treatment, get a job, obtain a stable living environment, and participate in social groups. These, along with developing organizational skills, will help the individual stabilize their life.

Sheffield Place wins national awards for the work they do with their residents. The awards are well deserved. 

My situation is that I am a retired male clinical social worker who worked in the field for over 40 years. Sheffield Place allows me to conduct a clinical group with the residents. I have been truly amazed how willing the women are to work on their issues and listen to feedback on ways to improve their lives. This would never be true without the very effective work of the Sheffield Place staff.

Sheffield Place wins my whole support and respect for the great and measurably effective work they do.

David Showalter LCSW
Sheffield Place Volunteer

Monday, March 11, 2019

James Madison University Students Spend Spring Break at Sheffield Place

The community at Sheffield Place is one built on resilience and empowerment. I felt so fortunate that I was able to come back this year as a leader for the alternative spring break program. The mothers I spoke to this week are some of the hardest workers I’ve ever met and taught us so many lessons about perseverance and strength. Each one of them is here because they want to make a change and build a better life for their children. I am incredibly inspired by the amazing work Sheffield Place does to empower homeless women and children. Sheffield Place gives me hope that people who are struggling can always turn their life around. 
- Grace Moran, Health Science Major 

It is difficult to find the words to describe the week we’ve had. Speaking with the residents, interacting with the children, and cooperating with the staff at Sheffield Place has been such a rewarding and eye-opening experience. It felt like a community from the moment we stepped through the doors. The optimism and hope for the future that each resident and child showed was incredible and I believe this is an attitude that Sheffield Place fosters; they truly embody their mission and I feel so grateful to have been a part of it this week. 
- Meghann Bugg, Elementary Education Major 

Sheffield Place is an amazing community and home for so many women and children experiencing homelessness. I am so thankful to have met all these children and mothers that are here. I have loved having the opportunity to hear all their stories and how strong they are. In addition, all of the workers at Sheffield are so friendly and hard working. Their dedication to helping these families is so inspiring. We got to see the houses that Sheffield rents which gives mothers a home when they leave Sheffield. We also got to learn about all the services and therapies that Sheffield has to offer. It is truly an incredible place and I am so grateful to have came here to experience the life changing services they do everyday. 
-Kaitlin Flannery, Health Science Major

The week I spent at Sheffield was both humbling and hopeful. There is something so beautiful about empowering women to believe that they really can create better lives for their families. The staff and the mothers have to work hard to facilitate the healing process but it is so worth it. My favorite way to serve was by cleaning and setting up rooms for incoming mothers. I am so grateful that places like this exist in the system to provide the resources and support needed to break the cycle of addiction. Everyone believes in the women here at Sheffield Place. Little bit of good are what make this world a brighter place & Sheffield is doing all kinds of good!
-Grace Lloyd, Nursing Major 

This past week has been nothing short of inspiring. The security and structure that Sheffield provides for the women and children help build a sense of community. We helped organize storage units, cleaned houses, picked up litter, and played with the kids; it’s the little things that build up to make a powerful impact. Sheffield is such a special place. The groups that the mothers attend are catered to their needs. The kids do activities to improve their social skills, learning skills, and emotional expression. There’s also family time for the mothers and children to bond. Sheffield is the tool box for the families, and it’s up to them to use the tools they are given to improve their lives. This place helps families back on their feet and teach self sufficiency. Overall, I could not be any more thankful to take part in something so life changing.
- Cathy Dang, Nursing major 

Coming to Sheffield Place I expected to see the stereotype of a homeless shelter, a line of beds close together in a big dark room. I was also expecting the mother’s to be standoffish and unwilling. I was completely wrong. Sheffield is an amazing facility that offers so many programs like drug counseling, group therapy, and family bonding sessions. It is also very well decorated, every where I look I see a motivational picture or phrase. The women here are phenomenal. They are all very loving, very lively, and attentive people. Watching them bond with their kids really just reminded that they are just people who deserve to be happy like anyone else. I want to thank Sheffield for having such an amazing community and abiding by their mission statement “To empower homeless mothers and their children to heal from their trauma and become self sufficient”. Volunteering here gave me a sense of hope that I haven’t felt in a long time.  
- Milan Burton, Health Service Administration Major 

Sheffield Place is not what I expected. It doesn't only provide a roof over women and children, but welcome them into a safe community where they can only grow. Learning their stories shows how resilient these mothers are and how determined they are to heal not only for their children, but for themselves too. I enjoyed helping Sheffield this past week by helping clean out houses, sending out thank you notes, and organizing Sheffield Idol for the mother and children. This trip made me realize that everyone has something going on, but it is what you do next is what matters. 
-Olivia Trompeta, Industrial Design Major

It’s nearly impossible to put into words what this week has meant to me. Having the opportunity to talk with mothers about their stories was inspiring to hear their dedication to their children. I’ve learned so much more about homelessness and addiction and how the clients at Sheffield Place are mothers and people just like anyone else. I was given insight into a world with which I was unfamiliar, but at our core we have a lot more in common than I thought. Sheffield Place is an amazing facility because it offers services aimed at combating addiction and homelessness and breaking the cycle of abuse. I’m so thankful for being able to meet everyone at Sheffield Place this week and to go to a school that provides such ample opportunities. You never know which experiences in your life are going to leave a lasting impression, but I am certain that my time at Sheffield Place is one of those special experiences. 
-Caroline Diebler, IDLS Special Education Major 

At Sheffield Place, their mission "to empower homeless mothers and their children to heal from their trauma and become self-sufficient" isn't just something that sounds nice and looks good on their website and brochures. It is a living mission, embodied every day in their work. A common sentiment from the mothers who shared their stories with us is a strong respect and appreciation for the structure and programming at Sheffield. It's not easy but it gives them the tools to be self-sufficient and serve their children and communities. Personally, I'm inspired and energized from hearing these mothers' stories. There's common themes of heartache, obstacles, failure, success, and support. The most compelling theme is hope. 
- Ashley Curtis, JMU University Planning and Engagement Office Assistant 

Learning about all that Sheffield Place has to offer this week has been an incredible experience that I truly cannot properly articulate. Meeting all the mothers and hearing about their stories has allowed me gain so many new perspectives. In addition, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the children, especially the more introverted ones as I’ve been able to empathize with them in unexpected ways. Each of them are going to offer so much to the world, and I cannot wait to see how their mothers and them are going to progress into the hopeful future ahead of them. Sheffield is definitely a place that prioritizes these individuals’ stories and provides them a safe space. I am greatly appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to such a great organization and will continue to apply all the values and experiences it has given me this past week. 
-Mykim Hang, Health Services Administration Major

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Ash and family share their journey 10 years later

To the mothers who call Sheffield Place home,

I’m a beneficiary of the tremendous work that the staff at SP does.  From providing a safe roof over one’s head, to nurturing a person’s health and mental wellbeing, to encouraging self sufficiency by teaching life skills to make it back from whatever pulled you down to begin with.  My wish is that each of you start with the knowledge that you are at a safe place, not being judged for your past.

Ash and Twins 2008
Take this opportunity to rethink a whole new and better life for yourself and your children.  Take the help and resources that SP provides, and chart your dreams for the future. Then break it down into small steps, and diligently tackle each task.

The way out of the depths is a struggle, and will challenge all your faculties – physical emotional and mental.  Take a break when it gets overwhelming, but don’ t lose sight of the big dream. 

I’m here to tell you it can only get better.  And with each small accomplishment you will get stronger, in resolve  but also in character.  For me as for all of us, "We Are A Work in Progress.”

Twins 2018
I was a resident at Sheffield Place in 2007 and 2008.  My children were one year old then.  I needed so much and I got even more than I could ask for. The work that the staff do to manage the facility, implement best practices in family rebuilding, help clients like me repair a broken heart, and organize and understand the mental damage, and put the "baggage"  in a safe place, so that it would not fall and wreck my new-found peace.  Remember to take that outstretched hand that wants to you will need all the strength you can gather to overcome whatever it was that got you down.

I moved in 2014 to Houston and resumed my work as a home care nurse, now that the children are middle schoolers.  Today, I have learned to put my self respect as my priority. When I walk with respect for myself first, everything is done right. I say No to all injustice to myself, and keep My Temple (body and mind) clean and in the best health I can.

So during this 13 year journey, I have often given thanks for that moment in my life that brought me to the doors of Sheffield Place where the Sheffield Place staff, who seemed like family, held my hand and got me through a dark phase.

Hoping that from these beginnings, your journeys are as beautiful and enriched as mine have been. Go make the Sheffield Place family proud of you!

God Bless the Sheffield Place family, and may you always shine your Beacon of Hope to those in need.

Much Love,

Ash and Twins