After graduating from Cornell College, Post packed her bags and went backpacking through South America. While on her trip, she fell in love with Costa Rica.
“To me, the best education you can receive is experiencing different realities and different people and different cultures, and it is something I thrive on,” said Post.
In Costa Rica, Post worked as an International Baccalaureate teacher. She taught subjects ranging from world history to theory of knowledge. Post also gave back by running a chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
“Living in Costa Rica, I learned what it was like to live as a minority, and I learned how to communicate cross culturally, which was something I really built upon in my next job.”
Her next job brought her backside state to work in victim services for the International Institute of Buffalo in New York. She began by working on refugee resettlement as a medical advocate. The job wasn’t always easy and Post had to make difficult decisions while on the job.
“The most difficult thing I had to do was let people make choices that hurt themselves,” she explained. You can provide people with resources; you can provide them with support, but you can’t make them do things. Ultimately, everyone makes their own choices.”
Seeing problems a and challenges refugees faced as they adjusted to life, she started a program with victim services, working with refugee families caught up in the child welfare system. The program’s purpose was to educate the system in addition to educating the families.
“From that the department really grew, and we brought in a domestic violence component, so we worked specifically with refugees that were experiencing domestic violence,” she said. “Again, there was a big education component to that.”
In 2011, Post moved to Athens to become executive director of the Athens Area Homeless Shelter.
“I hadn’t lived near home for 15 years, so I was ready to come back south for a while and this job felt like the right opportunity for me to do that,” said the Atlanta native.
As executive director, Post manages all aspects of the Athens Area Homeless Shelter. These duties include overseeing programs such as Almost Home, Going Home, All My Money and JobTREC.
Post’s favorite memory at the homeless shelter came in her first year on the job when one of the children living at the shelter drew her an ice cream butterfly which she framed.
“That to me was just so special because here this six-year-old girl who is living in a homeless shelter, and she has the imagination and the sense of wonder and fun to draw an ice cream butterfly. It just kinda blew me away,” said Post.
“[Shea] is a strong believer in self-care for staff members and encourages staff to maintain a balance between work and personal life,” said Katie Smith, assistant director of Athens Area Homeless Shelter.
Post emphasizes that the organization operates as a team. The staff and board of directors say that everyone is very understanding and goes beyond of what is expected of them.
“I often find myself in the role of saying, ‘You need to take a mental health day –– you need to make sure you aren’t working too much,’ because they are so amazing and they really have their hearts in their jobs,” commented Post.
She has high hopes for the shelter in the coming years as they continue the development of the Athens Resource Center for the Homeless, ARCH, in collaboration with AIDS Athens, Athens Nurses Clinic and Advantage Behavioral Health. The project serves the purpose of identifyies gaps in the current array of homeless services for Athens-Clarke County and develops and implements programming to fill these gaps. They expect to break ground on the resource center in the fall.
“Some people are good with policy, and some people are best with hands-on work, but Shea is one of those rare people who excel at both and always with a smile on her face,” said Kevin O’Neil, president of the board of directors of the Athens Area Homeless Shelter.
Shea Post’s LinkedIn Profile
Athens Area Homeless Shelter Website
Katie Smith, Assistant Director of the Athens Area Homeless Shelter
Kevin O’Neil, President of the Board of Directors of the Athens Area Homeless Shelter
Julie Meehan, colleague of Shea Post