Creating Young Philanthropists: Sean Sheppard

What does Embrace do? Sean Sheppard: We mobilize college students to restore the homes of disabled veteran homeowners and to serve homeless families by providing food and clothing and, soon, public health and social services. Since I worked as a strength and conditioning coach prior to this, continuing to work with college-age people was a seamless transition for me. We are focusing on creating young philanthropists. They are the ones truly benefiting from the community service they perform, because our organization is an environment that allows the young people to serve and give back from a young age. When you serve as a young person there s a great chance you will be doing so for the rest of your life. How do young people benefit from the multi-faith aspect of working side by side with folks of other (or no) faiths? Sheppard: I think it affects them in an incredibly positive way. They receive real-life e!posure to people outside their own faith rather than what is typically shown on television. "ne of the best ways to get to know those who are different from you is to spend time with them. We aren t necessarily trying to convert people to #hristianity$we are teaching people how to serve. When you spend enough time with someone on a regular basis, faith may come up as a topic of conversation. Whatever your faith is, at least you know you have one thing in common with one another$serving those in need. When it comes to our volunteers, we have an incredibly diverse group of students who serve, and that diversity is mirrored by the people being served. %mbrace is bringing people together.

How is this work an e pression of your faith? Sheppard: When the recession hit in &''(, I learned what true adversity is )editor s note* see +,rom -.ood .uy to .od s .uy/ below for back story0. I discovered that my purpose on this earth is to help others. I also discovered that I had a gift for helping others and for recruiting people to help others with me. That s what makes my heart sing. When I am helping people, .od seems to show me favor. It seems like the more effort I put into giving personally and through %mbrace, the more the 1ord seems to bless %mbrace and bless me personally. In order for .od to say, +Well done, good and faithful servant,/ each day, in my particular case, I need to have spent that day giving in some way, shape, or form. !an you e plain a little bit more about your two programs" #Healing $ur Heroes% Homes# and &Embrace the Streets#? Sheppard: With %mbrace the Streets we want what we are doing out on the streets to help homeless families. %very Wednesday and Thursday we go with students to where the homeless are to serve them. Typically we serve over 2'' each night by providing food, blankets, and clothing. We are in the process of constructing a model that provides the homeless with public health services, social services, and other resources that will improve their 3uality of life while they re on the street while concurrently providing them with information to assist them with getting off the street. Social work and public health professionals and students who are ma4oring in those areas will provide those tools in a farmers market format. 5ealing "ur 5eroes 5omes mobilizes volunteer contractors and volunteer college students to come together to restore the homes of disabled veteran homeowners. 6isabled veterans often return home to a dwelling that is not e3uipped with 767 compliant appliances inside or outside the home. We come to the disabled veterans aid by making their home usable for them, because often their physical and psychological needs have changed dramatically since the time they purchased their home. We have modified five homes so far and are doing our si!th this month )8uly &'290. We have given over :&;',''' of labor and materials into the five homes we ve done thus far. What do you en'ision for Embrace in the future? Sheppard* <y vision is broad and simple* I want to help tens of millions of people. 5owever .od wants me to go about doing that, I m all in.

1earn more at %mbrace. =ead more about Sheppard s 4ourney below. Kara Lofton is a summer intern at ESA and a full-time student at Eastern Mennonite University. (rom &)ood )uy# to )od%s )uy Sean Sheppard is the founder of %mbrace, a San 6iego-based nonprofit organization that uses community service to bring diverse groups of people together to bring about social wellness in society. Through %mbrace, Sheppard devotes his life to helping homeless civilians and veterans. 5owever, 29 years ago, Sheppard was a different person caring about different things. 7s an only child who was accustomed to thinking e!clusively about his own wants and needs, Sheppard spent most of his teen and young-adult years womanizing and partying with like-minded male counterparts. Sheppard always thought of himself as a +good guy,/ but never felt that good about himself or his life. Sheppard soon learned that his definition and .od s definition of +good/ were a great distance apart. While Sheppard was busy living his life for himself and thinking about all the things he wanted and didn t have, the economy took a turn for the worse. Sheppard had ne!t to nothing in his bank account, and his home was facing foreclosure. This marked the turning point of .od s life-changing grace. Sheppard began helping the homeless at the Salvation 7rmy, and he says, +.od put it on my heart to drum up enough energy to start helping people who were worse off than me./ The more time and energy Sheppard spent on helping the less fortunate, the better he felt. 7s the economy continued to decline, more people faced homelessness, and more nonprofits were forced to close. In &''', Sheppard established %mbrace and began serving the homeless on his own time. Since then, %mbrace has helped numerous homeless civilians and veterans through various programs. Sheppard has also brought thousands of people together from all walks of life to assist with his efforts.

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