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Ex-homeless Air Force mom backs Federal Way women's shelter
A brain injury from a Mack Truck accident led to Sheila Sebron becoming a homeless single mother of two children.
Sebron had an eight-year career in the U.S. Air Force before her medical discharge. Long an advocate for the homeless, she suddenly saw things from the other side.
“I went from hospital bed to homeless,” said Sebron, a Seattle resident. “Even though I never slept on the street, I had no control of my housing.”
Homelessness affects women in a deeper way than it affects men, she said.
“We’re the nurturers. There’s this biological thing about being able to nest, having a place to go,” she said, reflecting on her own experience. “If I was in a stable marriage, I wouldn’t have been homeless. The devastating effects of homelessness are greater for women because we are the ones who have the children. Not only do we need shelters, but we need to create that family type of structure.”
Sebron struggled to piece together her life and move forward. Six years ago, she founded the Veteran Community Network to help men and women in similar situations reintegrate into civilian life and become productive citizens.
“We built an infrastructure that can be used anywhere in the community,” said Sebron, who also serves on the Governing Board of the Committee to End Homelessness. “It’s a system that can be used nationwide so a veteran can plug in and get help in their own community.”
Another goal of the Veteran Community Network is to assist the first women’s winter homeless shelter in South King County. On that note, Sebron will share her story Oct. 13 at a fundraiser for Reach Out Federal Way, which hopes to open the shelter this winter.
“The thing I was most drawn to about Reach Out was the pulling together of small community faith-based groups around a cause and taking a shared responsibility for a small population of people,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of helping them be as successful as possible and helping women and their children have a better life.”
Reach Out already serves dozens of homeless adults each winter in South King County. From November through the end of March, the non-profit organization provides a warm place to sleep, a hot dinner, a cold breakfast and sack lunch each day to homeless men. Reach Out teams up with Federal Way churches along with volunteers who donate thousands of dollars worth of time and money. Many of Reach Out’s homeless clients are eventually connected with jobs and housing.
Oct. 13 fundraiser
• Reach Out will host an informal pancake and sausage breakfast fundraiser from 7 to 8:45 a.m. Oct. 13 at Steel Lake Presbyterian Church, 1829 S. 308th St. Individual tickets are $25 each. Table sponsorships are available at $200 for eight people. Guest speakers include Megan Johnson and Bob Wroblewski, both Federal Way residents who have made significant contributions to helping the homeless. To learn more about Reach Out Federal Way, visit www.reachoutfederalway.org or contact Nancy Jaenicke at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 927-5548.
• More than 632,000 veterans live in Washington, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, with 55,700 of those being female. The State Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 33 percent of homeless adults are veterans.