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Volunteer has found her calling
Faces and Places
Brigitte Cabeza-Shanken - photo by Photo by Frenchi Jones

Name: Brigitte Cabeza-Shanken

Age: 48

What do you do? I am a mom, a wife, a friend… and director of Volunteer Services at Winn Army Community Hospital and a realtor with Coldwell Banker, Holtzman Realtors

Who is your spouse? Jimmy Shanken    

How many children do you have? I have a son David, 26, a daughter Michelle, 12; and I have a grandson named, Ethan. He is 2 years old. I also have two stepchildren, Brian, 18, and Jessica, 14. Together, my husband and I have two cows, a pony, a number of goats and two dogs.

Where are you originally from? Panama. I was raised in Spain and Panama (Canal Zone) (“Army brat” both parents retired as physicians from the U.S. Army); Home is Hinesville, Georgia!

What prompted you to move to Hinesville?
I came as a military spouse, right after Operation Just Cause (Panama, Dec. 19, 1989) and just before Operation Desert Shield/ Desert Storm. In August 1990 to be exact. 

How long have you lived here? A month shy from 19 years. Wow! It was very hard at the beginning...less than 15 days after arriving in Hinesville from overseas, I found myself like many of our military spouses find themselves now; in a place where I didn’t know anyone, literally, my husband in the terminal in Hunter AAF heading to Kuwait, knew he was leaving, but had no clue when he was coming back or the true reason why he was leaving, over 15,000 lbs of stuff coming in my door, my children starting school, no jobs. Everything was in a hiring freeze and then what…it was not long before everything changed.  The great Southern hospitality and the willingness of the people to assist and welcome me in their community made it happen.  

What happened next? I started volunteering at Winn ACH in the Social Services Department, working with a social worker who had been called to active duty from Charlotte, N.C. She was amazing. I assisted her in offering various classes to spouses. She would teach them in English and I in Spanish. My life was shaping…gratefulness is a word that weighs very heavily in my vocabulary. We should always remember those who have lent us a hand and help us grow to where we are today.

What is your educational background?
Professional management

What made you interested in your current positions? The vision of a great leader who saw my potential as a professional and as a human being in the field.

What do you enjoy most about your job(s)? Being able to help others.

What makes your job most difficult?
Not necessarily my job, but life, not being able to reach and help everyone.

If someone was interested in getting into the field that you currently serve in, what would you tell them?
Bypassing all the professional requirements.You have to feel it. You have to feel the passion for the job from within and have to have the strength and resilience to adapt to different environments, different people and personalities to be able to really help. You have to own a kind and understanding heart and never be judgmental about anything. I couldn’t judge anyone. I am the most imperfect person you will ever meet, seriously.

In what ways has your current positions helped to shape and mold you into who you are today? Professionally, great leaders and mentors have come my way teaching me so much. I have learned and continue learning tremendously every day from all the wonderful people that I cross paths with, from all ages.
Molding? I am still a work in progress, God is still working on me…but personally who I am today it is really thanks to my parents and grandparents, they gave me a very firm foundation to believe in God and with Him all things will be possible, strong values, to care for others and to never give up no matter how tough things may get. 

What do you believe is the greatest service you can give to someone or some greater cause? To really care. I said really because sometimes people say that they care, but do they ‘really’ care?  Be genuine, from the heart.  Either it is or it is not.

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