Meet Nikki Sheldon, our March Staff Spotlight

This March we are featuring Nikki Sheldon as our monthly Staff Spotlight! Nikki does incredible work at our recently-opened Willows at Woods shelter. This unique shelter offers accessible, low-threshold housing to women who were formerly residing at the Mass and Cass encampments. The women living at Willows at Woods face incredible challenges. As the Shelter Director, Nikki works to make sure each woman is cared for and treated with respect. Thank you, Nikki for your compassion and dedication!

How long have you been with St. Francis House? What do you do here?

I have been at St. Francis House since December of 2021. I am a Special Projects Officer currently serving as the Shelter Director for the Willows at Woods.

 Is there anything you wish people knew about your role or your department?

The Willows at Woods is a temporary shelter opened to help support women who were living in tents on the Melena Cass highway. We have 24 beds and continue to remain full, with a waiting list. This means at any given time we are providing a safe haven to 24 women who are constantly facing sexual assault, rape, or other kinds of unwanted physical abuse. Engaging in sex work is often used as a means for these women to acquire their next meal, drugs or alcohol, or something as seemingly small as a new pair of gloves.

 What part of your job do you enjoy most?

I enjoy going into the Willows at Woods every day and working with women who are struggling with homelessness, substance use disorder, and undiagnosed behavioral health issues. We work together to try to find any way possible to help them feel safe, heard, care for, loved, and most importantly, not judged!

One of my favorite parts of the day is when I am walking around and say hello to one of the ladies. Then this turns into a 45-minute conversation of her telling me her story and how she ended up at the Willows. Though these conversations are full of trauma and sadness. While listening, I can see in her eyes how she needs to talk about this and start her healing process.