Having the Heart to Make a Difference
From her more than eight years of full-time volunteer service at The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence in North Philadelphia as a therapist for residents, and then serving as coordinator of divisional social service mental health training for paraprofessionals working in all The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia social service centers, she's proven her ongoing personal commitment to making a difference with the army behind the Army. During this time, Sandy played an instrumental role in improving The Salvation Army's social services through helping to bring Sanctuary, a trauma-based model, to their shelters and social service centers. This included presenting on the Sanctuary Trauma Model at The Salvation Army 2009 National Social Services Conference.
Thus, it is a natural fit that her family-owned and operated foundation would also support The Salvation Army's mission. Sandy and her husband Stephen's support has been so exemplary that in 2007 they were honored at The Salvation Army's 128th Annual Luncheon with the Others Award, a recognition of their extraordinary spirit of service to others.
Since 2006, their foundation has supported projects such as The Salvation Army Soup's On! Project - culinary arts job training and placement program, the Peer Mentoring Program for English and Spanish-speaking community members, the annual Christmas toy and pajama drives, the Red Shield Family Residence After-School Art Program, The Salvation Army Anti-Human Trafficking New Day Drop-In Center for women, and a $100,000 gift to The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center's capital campaign. Addressing a pressing need, in 2008 the Sheller Family Foundation made an emergency gift of $50,000 to help The Salvation Army Philadelphia Temple Corps Community Center social services program be able to continue their food pantry. In 2010, they stepped up to support The Salvation Army in their Haiti Relief Efforts after the tragedy of the earthquake. Through the years they have been avid supporters of The Salvation Army's Annual Luncheon to showcase its good work in the community, hosting tables and active in the planning.
First incorporated the end of 2001 and more fully established by Stephen and Sandy Sheller in 2006, the Sheller Family Foundation values efforts that deepen connection to community, strengthen children and families' futures, and provide opportunities that improve lives. The Sheller's background serves as a backdrop for the Foundation's mission and principles. Stephen, a Philadelphia attorney, is a lifetime advocate for the rights of the underdog, fighting corruption and serving as a champion for those harmed by negligence and/or intentional misconduct. He also has served for more than ten years as a member of The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia Advisory Board. Sandy, an art and family therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor, developed a deep understanding of issues and roadblocks for those less fortunate through her years working with at-risk families and children, families experiencing homelessness, and providers that serve those families including The Salvation Army.
"In general, the Foundation is committed to helping the marginalized and underserved in Philadelphia," Sandy explains. "Anything we can do to help, we do. We feel a strong connection with The Salvation Army's philosophy of 'soup, soap and salvation,' meeting human needs before beginning the process of rehabilitation or change."
"I'm a big believer in the fact that there are many unfair myths about poor people," Sandy said. "Many people don't understand the depth of the obstacles, stressors and hardships that the homeless and underserved face. I personally love how The Salvation Army meets individuals in need where they are and works with them in a non-discriminating way." Continuing to give of her time as clinical director of independent projects, a most recent achievement is the co-development of a "train the trainer" parenting model based on attachment and trauma theories. This model which is being utilized at The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence, amongst other shelters in the city of Philadelphia, has been cited as a National Center on Family Homelessness 2014 "Promising Program."
"Everywhere we've traveled in the world, The Salvation Army is well-known and respected," Sandy said. "Times are hard for social services, but we'll keep doing as much as we can to create a world with less inequality."