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Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Memoir Paperback – February 4, 2016
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About the Author
Plagued and embarrassed by her name (a humiliation enhanced 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 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 are nearly 400,000 children in the foster care system each day in the United States. Out of those children, nearly 61% age out of the system without having a place to live; nearly 50% end up incarcerated within two 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. She believes that some of the grassroots solutions she offers in Garbage Bag Suitcase 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 Certified Law of Attraction Advanced Practitioner, a member of the National Speakers Association, and volunteers with several organizations locally, nationally and internationally. Locally she is also much sought after for her advice and understanding of Social Media Marketing. Shenandoah Chefalo is also the author of an e-book entitled Setting Your Vision and Defining Your Goals, and is currently working on another book called Hiking for Stillness.
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Top customer reviews
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The memoir is Shen’s coming out party. Sharing the truth of her childhood, an experience that I cannot imagine. Unfortunately, all too many children do grow up in homes where the adults are not grown ups and the children’s needs do not trump those for booze and drugs and parties.
I loved the book, even though many of the stories are nothing short of heartbreaking. Being pushed out of a moving car by her stepfather, being swindled out of $5,000 by her foster family, being manipulated by a foster care system that feeds it’s own machine. Her stories are remarkably straightforward accounts of what has happened to her. She doesn’t ask for pity or sympathy, and she doesn’t apologize for laying out her soul. I think Shen wants the reader to understand just how miraculous it is that she survived and thrived as an adult, once clear of her family and the foster care system. Most kids with a past resembling hers, do not graduate from high school or college. They end up addicted, homeless, incarcerated or dead.
Why should we care about her story? Honestly, it is an uncomfortable read. Turning the pages, you may feel a bit voyeuristic at times, and ashamed of peeking into somebody else’s hardships. But there is an important and compelling message in the book.
Shen asks that we think before saying aloud, “What is wrong with that person”? Instead, she suggests that we consider, “What has happened to that person?”. Not everyone grew up with parents that cared, with enough food in the house, with the safety of knowing that Home = Safe. Some adults have spent their entire childhood living in fear of physical abuse and emotional cruelty. Nobody, not one person, ever thought they were special. As adults, they are doing the best that they can.
Shen asks that we have compassion for our fellow man and support efforts to remedy the abuses within the foster care system and the emotional and physical abuse of children behind closed doors. This is why I love her book. MR
[And nowadays, almost always, there are state subsidies available, plus support groups and professionals, free medical insurance, and often, free college -- so, if you are a good person with a big heart, don't let financial considerations hold you back...]
Google for national and local 'Foster Care Adoption information'
I highly recommend this well-written book to anyone involved in education, politics, foster care, and social services. I also recommend it to parents who are thinking of or have already adopted through foster care.