Michelle is the director of a new division of Family Support Services- Emergency Housing Services. This division was created after consideration of the current challenges we face as community and agency, the direction we want to grow in, and to take advantage of the talented staff we have in place. This new department will allow for increased focus and development of Safe House services and 24 hour crisis hotline services.
Michelle previously served as the volunteer coordinator for FSS before being promoted to Shelter Manager, and now her new position. Michelle has been instrumental in creating and implementing innovative programs that are focused on delivering services to domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault survivors from a holistic trauma informed perspective.
Prior to becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker, Michelle spent time as a dental assistant, preschool director, tech on a med surgery floor, and started to obtain a degree in nursing. But, her passion for underserved people and wanting to be a part of social change shifted her focus to social work. She is passionate about eliminating barriers, oppression, and faulty beliefs around domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. The value Michele lives by, "sometimes the greatest thing you can do for someone is to sit with them and bear witness to their suffering, and remind them of the value and strength they possess".
Michelle received her Master’s degree in Social Work at Arizona State University (ASU) in 2011 (advanced standing), with her undergraduate degree in Social Work also at ASU in 2010 (magna cum laude). She previously held positions as the shelter coordinator for the Salvation Army of Amarillo, as the Director of Domestic Abuse Programs and Direct Services Manager for Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse in Tuscon, AZ, and as a medical social worker. In a collaborative effort with the University of Arizona, she was recognized in published research for creating access for survivors of Domestic Violence to women’s health screenings and education on healthy relationships.
Michelle loves the outdoors. She is avid fisher "woman", loves to camp and garden. She is also quite the seamstress. She has won blue ribbons for her work! Most importantly, she loves spending time with her grown children.
As a fairly new Panhandlinian, Ronnie quickly developed her passion for working with survivors and underserved populations during her internship at FSS. Upon completion of her MSW, she was hired as an advocate at the Safe House. Her passion has only intensified through her work, as she has diligently works with management and staff to change the overall philosophy and environment that now exists at the Safe House. Ronnie takes her role as an advocate quite seriously. However, she is also known for her AMAZING sense of humor, and prides herself as a “bright light in a dark place.” She comes by it naturally, as her second passion in life literally puts in her in the spot light. Outside of work and family, Ronnie is a thespian of the arts, and frequents the stage in community theatrical productions. While these two worlds may seem far apart, they both have the same goal…to forever change the lives of those she comes into contact with.
Jolene was born and raised in Tucumcari, NM and has lived in Amarillo for the last 27 years. She enjoys spending time with her husband Gabino and two grown children, Brianna and Brandon. Hobbies include reading, scrapbooking, water skiing, boating, camping, fishing and vacationing on cruise ships with her family. Jolene received her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Eastern New Mexico University in 1991 and a Masters Degree in Social Work from West Texas A&M University in 2016. She enjoys helping others by lending a listening ear and allowing individuals to be empowered in any situation they may encounter. Jolene has experience in working in the mental health field, indigent population as well as with the homeless population. As a Case Manager at FSS she provides individualized services to victims of human trafficking. She currently serves on the 806 Anti-trafficking Collaborative of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains committee (806 ACTS) and Amarillo Continuum of Care Committee (CoC) for the homeless population. ~Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person~
Lisa Marie Perdue is the Case Manager at the Safe House. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from West Texas A&M University. Prior to joining the FSS team, Lisa was a Volunteer Supervisor for another local non-profit organization. She advocated for children who are living in the foster care system; working hard to help children overcome barriers within that system. “Advocating for those in need is my passion, especially those who are unable to represent themselves in the court system.” Lisa wanted to be a part of Family Support Services because she has a passion to help those in need. She loves advocating for those who need a voice in a system many "unfair". Being the Case Manager at the Safe House allows her the opportunity to work with children who have been removed from an unsafe situation. At the Safe House, she has the opportunity to help parents and children communicate their needs to one another while they are in a state of crisis. Her favorite part about working at the Safe House is getting to work with clients on a daily basis. Whether it is in person or through the Hot Line, she is constantly helping a person in need. It has been very fulfilling working with children who just want to be heard and understood. One thing Lisa hopes people learn about the field of social work is that it is not easy but it can be very fulfilling. Lisa says, “We are here to plant seeds of change and help clients choose a path of self-determination.. She tries to be that one consistent person in a clients life even after they have experienced so much loss and grief and they feel like there is no hope.” Our society has made it difficult for anyone to ask for help so it is up to us to say, "I am here." Lisa is the proud mother of an adorable 2 year old and loves to spend any spare moments creating memories with her sweet family.
Ingrid Briles is a Safe House PRN Advocate and also does our Nutrition Program. She goes weekly to the Food Bank and teaches clients life skills in cooking tasty and cost saving meals as well as how nutrition can be a part of trauma and healing. In 2009, Ingrid’s son called and told her that her 9 month old grand-daughter would be welcoming a baby brother right around her first birthday. He asked if she would like to come to Amarillo. Ingrid responded “Absolutely!!” and now calls Amarillo home. Previously, Ingrid had a great job as general manager of a fine dining restaurant. She wanted to give back, and volunteered at a local homeless shelter and fell in love with that work. Soon afterwards, she quit her job and went to work for The YWCA Shelter for Women and Families. After a couple of years, she transferred to their Domestic Violence Program. She worked for the YWCA for the next 10 years. Because her faith is important to her, she went to work for The Salvation Army and retired from there before moving to Texas. She worked in their homeless shelter for two years and was promoted to be their intake person, took care of rent and utility payments, and was in charge of the food pantry. For her, this was very much a labor of love. Ingrid is an advocate for Grandparents Rights, and children’s rights to know their grandparents. Ingrid is a published author in both small and large publications! Favorite quote – “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Mother Teresa
Cyra graduated from Robert E. Lee high school in Midland, TX. She set out to move up North, where she graduated from Amarillo College and obtained an A.S in Education and then attended West Texas A&M to study Business and Administration.
Cyra joined Family Support Services to serve as an Advocate and Hotline Interventionist at the Safe House. She helps to provide services that support individuals and families as they transition to a safe and stable environment. Cyra loves to witness and be a part of the client’s progress as they become more confident in themselves and their abilities to create and maintain a life they deserve. She has worked with several agencies serving children and families including: Catholic Family Charities and High Sky Children’s ranch. She believes in her heart that she is living her life’s purpose and is excited to see where it takes her. In her pastime, she enjoys working with AISD students as a substitute teacher. She is also very involved with her church where she serves as a teacher and a youth leader for the pre-teens. She likes to workout, read about history, and binge watch the The Office.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito”- African Proverb.
Hannah Finkenbinder is the Case Manager for the Transitional Housing program at the Safe House. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences with a focus in Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences from Texas Tech University. Before beginning her journey at Family Support Services, Hannah was in an intern for Safe Place Inc. in Dumas, Texas where she began to exercise her passion for advocating for, encouraging, and empowering men, women, children, and families. The drive to help others is what called Hannah to Family Support Services. Hannah strives to assist individuals and families to reach their goals and greatest potential, and working as a part of the Safe House team has given her the ability to do just that. Her favorite part about working in the Safe House is the amazing success stories she gets to witness. “There is nothing better than getting to see individuals leaving the Safe House, going into housing on their own two feet, with a smile on their face, that’s when you know you helped make a difference in someone’s life.” Hannah believes that every client that walks through our door is special and unique and deserves the best chance we can give them. Interacting with clients and their families is important to Hannah and she believes that taking the time to sit down and talk with someone can move mountains. “It is important to feel heard, we don’t always understand what each client is going through, but we can hear them, and sometimes that is the most important thing we can do.” In Hannah’s spare time, she loves being with her family, traveling, going to the movies, taking walks, and hanging out with her partner and miniature Australian Shepherd, Willow. She thoroughly enjoys being out and about and loves to explore new places and meet new people. Hannah has only been with Family Support services a short time, but is appreciative to all of the knowledge and experienced she has gained since being here, she looks forward to everything she can continue to learn in the future.
Susan is an advocate at the Safe House. She graduated from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Secondary Education with a focus in mathematics. She is a transplant from the east coast. After seeing the sky, sunrise and sunset of the west, Susan decided to put down roots in New Mexico. Prior to moving to Amarillo, Susan taught mathematics in the public school systems in Pennsylvania and New Mexico. Arriving in Amarillo about 10 years ago, Susan continued working in education but not in public schools, this time she worked in vocation education helping others to achieve a lifelong career.
Never imaging working in a safe house, but a friend told Susan about a position at the safe house. The thought of working with survivors was intriguing because in her past, Susan had encountered domestic violence but was unable to help the victim or the offender. Helping survivors overcome obstacles in order to create a safe healthier existence is a privilege. A highlight of working at the safe house is the daily interactions with people and seeing the survivors thrive.
In her spare time, you can find Susan sitting in a bleacher either at a wrestling match, football game, or baseball game cheering on her two Grandsons
Only by giving are you able to receive more than you give”—Jim Rohn
Taylor Goldston is our newest family advocate and team member at the Safe House. She originally planned to be a teacher. She majored in English Literature/Secondary Education at the University of North Texas. However, after teaching high school English for a couple years, Taylor realized that the title of ‘educator’ didn’t fully allow her to do what she found to be the best part of the job—counseling. “These kids need a lot more help than grammar can provide.” Still teaching, Taylor went back to school, and three years later, upon completing her fifth year of attempting to educate the future, she received her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Texas Tech University. If Taylor were an animal, she would be a phoenix, rising from the ashes of the broken public education system and transforming into a fire-bird of compassion and determination. Taylor’s heart also goes out to the animals. She is currently a conflicted omnivore and the rescuer/mom of two cats and the good-est dog ever.
“[She's] always thinking one step ahead…like a carpenter…that makes stairs.”
“An absolute blessing!”
“The best I’ve ever had.”
-All my exes
Brenda Talamantes is a part time Safe House Advocate. Brenda has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology form Lubbock Christian University. Brenda’s past experience has been working in post graduate education for over 8 years. She has teaching and student services experience. Her main function is to support students in their education journey and reach graduation. Brenda currently works full time at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center as their OB/GYN Residency Program Manager. Brenda strongly believes that education is the key to success.
Brenda likes to see the big picture and understands the importance of her contribution. She hopes her support will help Family Support Services clients during their difficult times.
Brenda enjoys spending time with her family. Her favorite time of the year is the fall, mainly to watch her favorite football team, the New York Giants.