Cheryl Miller interviews the RVA big-heart
Shawnee Hansen’s journey to help the community began 29 years ago when she spotted a young boy in South Richmond eating from a trash can. That prompted her to create the grass-roots nonprofit organization, “Richmond Friends of the Homeless.” Now working with nearly 100 partners, including church congregations, schools, businesses, civic groups and individuals, the organization provides meals seven days a week in three locations around the city — a total of more than 4 million meals since starting back in 1986. They also provide clothing, blankets, shoes, personal hygiene kits and warm, winter items. “I find each day interesting,” Hansen says, “and find great motivation watching my fantastic volunteers do what they do. They inspire me to provide the best quality of services that we can provide and to show God’s love daily to those in need.”
PET PROJECT: “I love taking the children I get to know through my program to places they wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to go – nice restaurants, the beach, Busch Gardens, the ballet, etc.”
CELEBRATING A MILESTONE: “I am planning to walk the 500-mile Camino de Santiago (to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in Spain) to celebrate turning 65 in May.”
INTERESTING FACT: Shawnee’s father was a professional golfer on the PGA tour.
MENTOR: “My mother. She was AMAZING. She was widowed at age 31 and had five children under the age of 7, yet she always had time for others. Our table was surrounded by a collection of unique people who were alone or forgotten at the holidays. The little we had was shared with anyone in need throughout the year.”
PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE: “I love what Winston Churchill once said, ‘You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.’ ”