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Meet Shelley Gilbert

Anyone who meets Shelley Gilbert will be struck by her contagious optimism and sense of hope even in the most difficult circumstances.


Shelley spent 4 1⁄2 years in the Coast Guard, a stint that allowed her nurturing spirit to shine through. She did search and rescue work in a station that saved many lives. She is especially proud of one rescue that stands out – helping save a 12-year-old boy who got into trouble paddleboardng. Shelley reports, “it made me feel good to be part of that rescue.”


While in the military Shelley earned an EMT license, which allowed her to save and protect others, even after she left the service.


Life wasn’t always easy in Shelley’s post-military years, though. Depression, and trauma she experienced re-surfaced. Ultimately, she lost her job and her apartment, and struggled to keep her family together as a single mother.


Shelley’s story is not uncommon. She is one of an estimated 1.2 million households led by a veteran and living in poverty.


Yet another injury – this time to her back – left Shelley in dire straits. While at the hospital, Shelley was given a packet of information for veterans and learned about the services of Friendship Place.
Shelley says, “It’s easy for your self-worth to go way down. Friendship Place has a way of talking to people with respect, and that makes them feel better.”


Friendship Place told Shelley they could get her into an apartment in about a week. Shelley says, “You overdelivered, you got me into a home in 3 days!”


Most recently, Shelley has worked as a dialysis technician. In keeping with her optimistic spirit, she’s looking for even more new opportunities.


Shelley remains grateful to Friendship Place and has been a part of our Board of Directors and our Speakers Bureau. She says with gratitude, “Friendship Place gave me my life back!”

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Your support for Friendship Place has a lasting impact. In 2020, our programs ended or prevented homelessness for 2,664 people, including 606 children in families and 661 veterans. We empowered 200 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to get jobs through innovative, state-of-the-art job placement services. Friendship Place's programs collectively served a total of 3,432 people in 2020. Make a donation today in support of our work to end homelessness. Questions? Please feel free to call our fundraising office, 202.503.2970.

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