Tia is the Assistant Program Director of the CEDARS Pioneers Center, the only emergency shelter for youth in our community.
Jim: It is my pleasure to introduce my colleague and proud to say friend, Tia Scheel. It is a joy to have you working with us as Assistant Program Director of the CEDARS Pioneers Center emergency shelter.
Tia: Thank you.
Jim: Tia, tell us a little about yourself.
Tia: I was born and raised in Nebraska, here in Lincoln. I have three older sisters. No boys in the family, all girls, so my dad was one lucky man. My mother passed away when I was ten years old from a very horrendous disease, and so really, me and my sisters just raised ourselves. I graduated from Lincoln Southwest Highschool, then went on to Wayne State College, where I graduated after four years with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology. I ended up going on to do an internship with the State of Nebraska, which led me into working with children and families. I just loved working with children and families so I stuck with it. Having come from the background that I did, not having those parental figures, kind of growing up in a little bit of a rough household, made me really drawn to this place. CEDARS has been great and it’s really easy for me to empathize with youth and families.
Jim: There are striking similarities between us. My mother passed away when I was young. When a parent passes away at a young age, that is a crosscutting thing.
Tia: It hits home.
Jim: And I graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology.
Tia: Oh hey!
Jim: So some of the connections are interesting.
Jim: You are the Assistant Program Director of the Pioneers Center emergency shelter. In my opinion, the Pioneers Center is operating at a level that we’ve never seen before. It’s a wonderful team that you are a part of.
Tia: It feels really good to hear you say that.
Jim: Tell us about your day.
Tia: My day varies all the time. A lot of the kids who come into our care have some specialized individual needs that may take a little bit more attention than others per se. So I always come into work thinking, how can I help these kids be more successful than yesterday. But my days vary all the time.
Jim: There are some kids whose stories and faces I bring home with me. We call that vicarious trauma. And if I, in my limited exposure, have to sort through that, I’m sure that you with your direct involvement in their lives forty plus hours a week have to deal with that.
Jim: How do you take care of yourself?
Tia: I read. I actually just got back into reading. But I’m with you completely about the vicarious trauma. It’s impossible for me not to want to just take in all the kids myself. It’s very important to separate your work and your home life because they definitely come together, especially when you’re in direct care. I did realize in the beginning that it was taking a toll on me. I was more tired, I wasn’t getting enough sleep because I was waking up thinking, did I do this right? Did I say the right things? And I realized I couldn’t do that. When I’m at work I need to take care of the things I need to take care of, but when I leave I need to take care of the homefront as well. Knowing that you’ve done your part, is a huge thing for me. What have I done, regardless of the other circumstances in a kid’s life, what have I done as CEDARS, as myself, to help a youth be successful? Once I can internalize that, then I can breathe and then I can go on to make sure the next youth is successful.
Jim: Tia, thank you for sharing your talents with the kids and families at CEDARS.
Tia: My pleasure.