SAN JOSE (CBS 5) – A college project has become a model for family shelters. This Jefferson Award winner has brought students and struggling families together, benefiting them both.

San Jose’s Family Supportive Housing shelter is tucked away in an industrial area on the east side of the city. Like many of the homeless in Santa Clara, it’s hard to spot. So when San Jose State students asked Professor Winifred Schultz-Krohn to help with a service project there, she was surprised to learn what this shelter offered that others did not.

“They may have mothers and children, but if there is a dad, the dad is not allowed,” Schultz-Krohn explained, referring to other typical shelters. “If they have a 13-year-old son, the 13-year-old son is not allowed. This shelter says if you consider yourself a family, you’re welcomed.”

Eleven years after the student project began; Shultz-Krohn has created a unique partnership with Family Supportive Housing, coordinating her students from the school’s Department of Occupational Therapy with families in need of support.

Executive Director of Family Support Services Trish Crowder said, “They don’t have access to those kinds of experiences any other place. Their life experiences never connected them to this sort of service.”

Crowder explained that Shultz-Krohn, who is a certified Occupational Therapist, has established a variety of classes at the shelter that support all aspects of family life. With the help of her students, she runs an annual summer camp. Shultz-Krohn has also launched year-round job skills classes, teen workshops, parenting classes, and even something to take the stress out of the lives of the smallest residents: infant massage.

Before work in the morning, Shultz-Krohn teaches a baby massage classes to help parents communicate through touch. Her programs not only give students valuable experience in their field, but helps families prepare for life after their three-month stay at the shelter.

“It gives you those moments during the day where you can calm down and relax and just enjoy your baby,” said mother Tiffany Lee.

For Shultz-Krohn, it all comes down to family.

“We will work with you as much as we can and as hard as we can to preserve your family,” she said. “That’s why I have kept coming back, because the mission of this shelter is really to say, ‘families are important.'”

So for supporting the families of the most vulnerable in our community, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Winifred Schultz-Krohn.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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