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

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