Shantel Sims says her work with the homeless community has taught her much about the strength of the human spirit. “I have seen people lose everything and never give up hope,” she says.
As a Family Support Specialist for Henderson Behavioral Health, Ms. Sims is assigned to Operation Sacred Trust, OST, where she provides intensive support to South Florida Veteran families who are experiencing or facing homelessness to help them achieve housing stability. OST is part of a national initiative of the Department of Veterans Affairs, known as the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program, established to end homelessness for America’s Veterans.
Locally, OST team members are assigned to the initiative by collaborative community nonprofit agencies, including Carrfour Supportive Housing, PAIRS Foundation, and Henderson Behavioral Health. The program serves more than 1,000 Veterans and their family members in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Family Support Specialist
Operation Sacred Trust
What inspires you to serve Veterans?
I have many close friends from my hometown in Salt Lake City, Utah that have left their families, loved ones, and friends at home in order to serve their country. I have so much respect for the selflessness that our Veterans exhibit. I take pride in the opportunity I have been given to serve the Veterans in our community. The work I do with Veterans is my way of giving back to individuals that have sacrificed so much to protect our country.
What is an experience that stands out?
One experience that stands out for me is the assistance I provided to the first couple I worked with at OST. This particular Veteran and his wife had recently moved into an apartment and had very limited income. They had just enough money to make it month to month; however, they had fallen on hard times and needed assistance with paying their electric bill in order to avoid having their utilities disconnected. OST was able to provide assistance with paying their owed fees, ensuring that they would continue to have electricity in their home. This couple was so appreciative and was genuinely grateful for the assistance OST provided. I could tell from my interaction with them that they were dedicated to sustaining their housing in the community. It was so great to provide that couple with the peace of mind they were looking for.
What’s your hope for the impact of your service?
I am really excited about OST continuing to make a difference in the lives of Veterans. I have seen the impact the OST program has in regard to ending homelessness. It is such an amazing feeling to assist someone with moving into a home that they can call their own. I know that OST will continue to make a positive impact within the Veteran community. I hope that every Veteran that we serve knows how appreciative OST is for their service and dedication to our country.
What connection do you have to the Veteran or homeless community?
I have a social work background working with homeless individuals. Working with the homeless population has taught me that the human spirit is so strong. I have seen people lose everything and never give up hope. I truly feel honored for the opportunity I was given to work with the homeless population. I will never forget the individuals I worked with and will always remember their courage to keep moving forward even in the most difficult of times.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned this year?
I have learned that even though people have different backgrounds, experiences, and stories we are all working towards the same goal. We all have a need to feel safe and secure, even when that goal, for some, has seemed so far out of reach. Meeting that need for security can change someone’s entire outlook on life and give them a new sense of hope.
|Job Title:||Family Support Specialist|
|Company Name:||Henderson Behavioral Health
Operation Sacred Trust
|Work Phone:||855-778-3411 x815|
|Email Address:||Click to Email|
|Address:||200 S. Park Road, Suite 455|
|Hollywood, Florida 33021|