This months' #IAMKDOT feature gives hope to the homeless.
Take a walk around any KDOT work area and talk to people, and a common theme you’ll hear is that they’re here because they like improving lives for the people who use the roads, bike lanes and preservation areas KDOT builds and maintains. For many employees, the sense of service extends beyond the workplace. Sherri Hildebrandt, Administrative Specialist at District 1 Bonner Springs office, is an unassuming example of a personal commitment to making her community better.
“It makes me grateful to be part of something that makes someone’s life a little better,” Hildebrandt said.
Hildebrandt, a five-year KDOT veteran, serves at the Leavenworth Interfaith Shelter of Hope homeless shelter, where since 2014 she has been regularly working the night shift managing intake, supervising the floor, doing laundry or “whatever is needed” for the 15-20 people who sleep at the shelter each night.
She said she’s always felt called to serve.
Prior to working at KDOT, Hildebrandt worked with the Department of Children and Families, and was keenly aware of the needs of the unhoused in the community.
“When I saw the need here, I knew I had to be part of the solution.”
In 2014, the shelter came together through donations and the leadership of several church and community organizations.
|Sherri Hildebrandt prepares to open the Interfaith Shelter of Hope for the evening. The shelter houses 15-20 homeless people each evening.|
Hildebrandt says since beginning to serve as a volunteer at the shelter in 2014 and now in her part-time paid capacity, she’s met some incredibly resilient people and been part of several uplifting moments. But it’s not always easy.
“It’s hard when you hear their stories sometimes,” she said. “But the people who really need these services, they are the ones who help keep me going.”
At the same time, she said, serving in that sector makes her grateful.
“These are people living day to day,” she said. “It’s easy to walk by them. But you never know what tomorrow could bring, it could easily be you or your family.
Hildebrandt has seen some of the success stories during her time serving at the shelter. She’s seen people work through extremely difficult struggles to finish their education, get housing, and get jobs to support their family. For her, these are why she says it’s important for her to serve.
“I love seeing people whose lives are a little better because of what we’re doing there.”
Linda Martin, Shelter of Hope director, says having Sherri on staff provides just the right mix of component supervision and compassion.
“She is one of the reasons our shelter is so successful,” Martin said.
Hildebrandt encourages everyone to consider getting involved locally in any capacity they feel able to serve.
“It’s eye-opening,” she said. “It definitely makes me think twice before I judge anyone.”
Hildebrandt says she would describe herself as a volunteer and professional. She is a mother and her grandchildren call her Noni. She is a sister and a friend, she loves to shop and she is dedicated and compassionate.