GARBAGE BAG SUITCASE
Garbage Bag Suitcase is the true story of Shenandoah Chefalo’s wholly dysfunctional journey through a childhood with neglectful, drug-and alcohol addicted parents. She endured numerous moves in the middle of the night with just minutes to pack, multiple changes in schools, hunger, cruelty, and loneliness. Finally at the age of 13, Shen had had enough. After being abandoned by her mother for months at her grandmother’s retirement community, she asked to be put into foster care. Surely she would fare better at a stable home than living with her mother? It turns out that it was not the storybook ending she had hoped for. With foster parents more interested in the income received by housing a foster child, Shen was once again neglected emotionally. The money she earned working at the local grocery store was taken by her foster parents to “cover her expenses.” When a car accident lands her in the hospital with grave injuries and no one came to visit her during her three-week stay, she realizes she is truly all alone in the world. Overcoming her many adversities, Shen became part of the 3% of all foster care children who get into college, and the 1% who graduate. She became a successful businesswoman, got married, and had a daughter. Despite her numerous achievements in life though, she still suffers from the long-term effects of neglect, and the coping skills that she adapted in her childhood are not always productive in her adult life. Garbage Bag Suitcase is not only the inspiring and hair-raising story of one woman’s journey to over- come her desolate childhood, but it also presents grass-root solutions on how to revamp the broken foster care system.
Plagued and embarrassed by her name, made worse by a nomadic childhood that made it impossible to build lasting relationships, Shenandoah Chefalo developed a tough skin at an early age. Along the way she learned to deal with disappointment, push through discomfort, overcome adversity and accurately gauge people, qualities that have helped her to succeed.
After spending nearly 20 years as a Law Office Administrator, Shenandoah became unsettled by the ever revolving door of people into the criminal justice system and set out to find a way to change it. She attended Coach U and became a certified life coach. Working through that program Shenandoah began to understand her childhood in a way she never had before.
She began researching and learned that there were nearly 400,000 children in the foster care system each day in the United States. Out of those children nearly 61% would age out of the system without having a place to live, nearly 50% end up incarcerated within 2 years of aging out and almost 80% of people on death row are former foster alumni. These and other statistics made Shenandoah realize that she had to do something.
She set out on a mission to tell her story and educate the general public about the grim realties of a life that she had always tried to hide. Through education, she believes that some of the grass roots solutions that she offers as well as ideas and solutions from others could change the lives of children and the landscape of the country.
Shenandoah Chefalo is a graduate of Michigan State University, holding a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science, a Core Essentials Graduate from Coach U, a Certified Law of Attraction Advanced Practitioner, a member of the National Speakers Association and volunteers with several organizations both locally, nationally and internationally. Locally she is also much sought after for her advice and understanding of Social Media Marketing. Shenandoah Chefalo is also the author of an e-book entitled Setting Your Vision and Defining Your Goals and is also working on another book Hiking for Stillness.