Interview by Pastor Tom Sims:
Community Outreach Coordinator, Sharlene Cha was born in Nevada, raised around the country, was eventually found at home in Fresno where she lives with her husband and 13 year old son. Her family’s legacy goes back to Laos from which her parents migrated in 1976.
Sharlene’s experiences with FIRM go back to early college days when she volunteered for a FIRM food drive and later interviewed Sophia Dewitt as part of a school project.
During her years in college, she worked in the business sector which helped prepare her for her present calling by helping her to learn both people and organizational skills. After many hard years of working, becoming educated, and raising a family, she received her degree in social work.
Asked how she perceived her challenges at FIRM, Sharlene cited the need for critical thinking and for balance in time management. “It is a lot to wrap my head around, sorting out what is most important to what is least important.”
She is fast developing those skills because they are in daily demand.
She most likes the people at FIRM, the clients, the volunteers, and the staff. “Everyone is so down to earth,” she observes.
I asked her what surprised her most upon coming on staff at FIRM and she replied, “Everything was a surprise and nothing was a surprise.”
“The people are so good and helpful.”
I asked what kept her awake at night and got her up in the morning. The answers were the same. She is concerned , as most people are, about finances, both for the organization and for the people FIRM serves as they navigate the challenges of the economy.
The second was the need to promote the value and opportunities for education among the people we serve. She believes that education is essential to lifting people and helping to empower them to greatness.
The third big motivator for her is her own personal growth., Sharlene goes to sleep and wakes up thinking about how to improve her effectiveness in her role. In her words, “How I can better myself and learn more and do more to organize myself to better serve our community more?”
That says it and that is why people like Sharlene Cha define the values, spirit, and mission of FIRM to share Christ’s love to build communities of hope with New Americans!