Shannon Wilson: Crosswinds Advocate For Children
By Maria Sonnenberg // October 20, 2013
2013 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN
ABOVE VIDEO: When Shannon Wilson wanted to reach out and help, former Brevard County Sheriff Jack Parker suggested she join the board of Crosswinds Youth Services, Shannon jumped at the idea. Fifteen years later, Wilson is still advocating for children in whatever projects Crosswinds needs her.
When Shannon Wilson first began her career as an attorney, her first job out of law school was with the public defender’s office. A stint in juvenile court later followed.
“The stories of the kids you dealt with were incredibly sad,” said the deputy county attorney and Viera resident. “These children were just so lost.”
Wilson wanted to reach out and help, so when former Brevard County Sheriff Jack Parker suggested she join the board of Crosswinds Youth Services, Shannon jumped at the idea.
“Children’s issues have always been my thing,” she said.
Fifteen years later, Wilson is still advocating for children in whatever projects Crosswinds needs her.
“There is such a huge need for this service,” she said.
As a past president and treasurer, Wilson helped lead the agency as it evolves to better meet community need.
Her efforts have never stopped at the boardroom. When the agency was furnishing its transitional home for teens, Wilson became a frequent visitor to local thrift shops and garage sales to scout out anything and everything these young people would need in their new home.
“I’d find furniture they could use and take it to them in my van,” said Wilson. “This is a very important program, because we are mentoring them so they can eventually be able to live on their own.”
Currently the chair of Crosswind’s board development committee, Wilson is involved in growing the agency through volunteer efforts. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t get wet with Crosswinds’ annual Great Brevard Duck Race.
Email blasts from Wilson alert county employees about the race and the worthy charity it benefits. Wilson asked county staff to “adopt” the little rubber ducks that would float to a finish line and would gladly take adoption papers to the new duck parents.
Although the grand prize in the race is always significant, the true winners are the kids at Crosswinds that benefit from all the proceeds of the event. Of course, she has been the duck parent of many rubber duckies through the years.
FOCUS IS REHABILITATION
The attorney is also active with First Step, a nonprofit that deals with issues related to jail overcrowding. The program aims to keep recent parolees from sliding back into jail.
“Probation officers submit their clients’ emergency needs to us,” said Wilson.
“They may have lost their driver’s license or their birth certificates and you can’t get a job without identification, so we front the money so they can replace these documents We help with emergency food needs and utility bills, especially if there are children in the house.”
Wilson is often at Sam’s Club to stockpile canned goods and toiletries that will help mainstream the parolees back into the community.
“The focus is rehabilitation,” she said.
TRAINING NEW VOLUNTEERS
Wilson never says no to a good cause. She has even agreed to sit in a dunking booth in order to raise money for the United Way of Brevard.
Through the Church of Viera she has raised money for Pregnancy Resources Center and participates in her church’s monthly food drive. At the Rescue Me mega-adoption event in Viera, Wilson was there to help county shelter dogs find forever homes.
She will gather backpacks for needy kids and makes it a habit of picking up afghans and robes at local thrift shops.
“I collect them to take to nursing homes and hospice,” she said. “It is tough to be in a nursing home with very little to your name.”
CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK
Wilson’s 15-year-old daughter, Mariah, is following in her mom’s footsteps in paying it forward. Maria’s favorite nonprofit is Harmony Farms, where she is one of the “barn rats” at the therapeutic riding facility for people with disabilities.
“She gets up at 8 a.m. every Saturday morning to go muck out the stables, and now she is also training new volunteers,” said her mother.
ABOUT THE 2013 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN AWARDS
The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their Time, Talent or Treasure to help people in need locally – and around the world.
This year, more than 30 deserving humanitarians will be honored during the Gala, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, with the festivities beginning at 6 p.m.
“Over the years, our editorial team has had the distinct honor and pleasure of identifying and featuring the many members of our community who give back so much and are dedicated to reaching out and helping others, here and throughout the world, in a multitude of ways,” said Maverick Multimedia Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo.
“We remain firmly committed to identifying and telling those stories and providing a timely media platform to recognize Space Coast and Central Florida residents’ altruistic contributions on a regular basis in our magazines, as well as SpaceCoastDaily.com,” said Dr. Palermo.
This inspiring and compelling event is sponsored by Brighthouse Networks, Health First, Brevard Physicians Network, MPAC ACO, Community Credit Union, Knudson Brain & Spine Law Injury Office, Florida Pain, Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine, CentralFloridaMedicine.com and SpaceCoastDaily.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION or to make a reservation to attend the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards Gala call 321-615-8111 or e-mail SpaceCoastMedicine@gmail.com.