March 3, 2020
Episode 30: Shenandoah Chefalo, Author of “Garbage Bag Suitcase”
In this episode, Rob and Dana welcome author and foster care advocate Shenandoah Chefalo.
Shen talks about the process of writing her book “Garbage Bag Suitcase” and how she was able to open up about her childhood spent in foster care. She talks about the fact that approximately 4,600 children go missing from foster care every year and for the most part, nobody tries to find them. Shen also shares her insight on how people can work through and heal trauma by talking about it openly and without shame.
Plagued and embarrassed by her name, made worse by a nomadic childhood that made it impossible to build lasting relationships, Shenandoah Chefalo developed a tough skin at an early age. Along the way she learned to deal with disappointment, push through discomfort, overcome adversity and accurately gauge people, qualities that have helped her to succeed.
After spending nearly 20 years as a Law Office Administrator, Shenandoah became unsettled by the ever revolving door of people into the criminal justice system and set out to find a way to change it. She attended Coach U and became a certified life coach. Working through that program Shenandoah began to understand her childhood in a way she never had before.
She began researching and learned that there were nearly 400,000 children in the foster care system each day in the United States. Out of those children nearly 61% would age out of the system without having a place to live, nearly 50% end up incarcerated within 2 years of aging out and almost 80% of people on death row are former foster alumni. These and other statistics made Shenandoah realize that she had to do something.
She set out on a mission to tell her story and educate the general public about the grim realities of a life that she had always tried to hide. Through education, she believes that some of the grass roots solutions that she offers as well as ideas and solutions from others could change the lives of children and the landscape of the country.
Shenandoah Chefalo is a graduate of Michigan State University, holding a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science, a Core Essentials Graduate from Coach U, a Faculty member and trainer at the Center for Trauma Resilient Communities, and volunteers with several organizations both locally, nationally and internationally. Shenandoah Chefalo is the author of multiple award winner, Garbage Bag Suitcase, an e-book entitled Setting Your Vision and Defining Your Goals and is also working on another book Hiking for Stillness. She is also the co-founder of #4600AndCounting, a grass-roots movement to find missing youth from care.
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