Catholic Charities of Gallup, Inc. welcomes the new Director of Good Shepherd Center Catholic Charities in Holbrook, AZ- Sheila Ashenfelder. Sheila gives a short bio below and the different challenges she had to face and continue to tackle as the Agency re-invents itself.
“As you know, I am the fledgling newbie director at Good Shepherd Center in Holbrook, Arizona. My first day was July 1st, and this month and a half has been very full.
My husband and I came to Arizona in May of 2002 from New Hampshire, having had a spiritual message to move to Arizona. We took a giant leap of faith as we arrived here with no place to live, no jobs and no connections. We have not regretted our response to that message. We have four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. All are in New Hampshire, but for one son who is a Command Master Chief in the Navy in San Diego. We do miss all of them.
My last position was as a receptionist at La Posada Hotel in Winslow for over 10 years, so a whole new beginning here. I have to say that there is so much more here to experience with the necessity to help people who are in such need. My eyes have been opened wide as has my heart. I am happier here than I ever could have expected. I am so grateful for my co-worker, Nancy; I couldn’t have made it through this last few weeks without her support. We have people coming for food, which we have been providing as we can, from our own provisions. With God’s help we will shortly open with a cook and provide substantial lunches every week day.
Holbrook Catholic Charities has been closed down since Sr. Bernard was retired. There was a lot to do to get the buildings cleaned out and cleaned up. Plumbing work was needed; appliances have been repaired. We lost a freezer that quit running and had to throw away a great deal of spoiled food. That was devastating to us both.
An exterminator has been brought in on a monthly basis, and I have had the gas, water and electricity turned off in the old thrift shop. This building is in great disrepair, floors coming up and separating, cinder block walls separating and bowing. There is so much mold and mildew in there that it is beyond help. We have to tear it down to keep people from being injured or becoming ill. The appliance repair man, his wife and son-in-law came to take all electrical wires, lighting, air vents, the old stove and more that will be a big help when the demolition begins. I have a contractor who has agreed to oversee the operation and the Knights of Columbus told Fr. O’Keefe that they would assist with this project.
Nancy Barela, who is the HUD person here, and I, went to the city to ask for help from them to demolish this building. The City Manager came and looked at it and informed us that they could not get their machinery in this space, as the buildings are too close together. He told us that if we could get people who were knowledgeable about construction/demolition, he would provide the dumpsters and would dispose of the materials at no cost to us! This is our next project and it is huge!
We both ask for continued prayers that we can get this accomplished so that we can provide a clean, safe environment for our people.”