Emergency Housing Services Team
We are a team of passionate dreamers, doers, and changemakers. We pride ourselves on having professional team members who work together to bring healing, provide safety, and deliver hope to the people we serve.
Director of Emergency Housing Services
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 Michelle 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.
Safe House Manager
Hannah Finkenbinder is the manager 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, safe, and working on their healing. 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 kind and healing services. 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 husband and miniature Australian Shepherd, Willow. She thoroughly enjoys being out and about and loves to explore new places and meet new people. Hannah loves what she does, and wants to share our message of love and empowerment with everyone.
Susan is a Case Manager at the Safe House. She is SOAR certified that allows her to assist homeless individuals apply for Social Security benefits. She graduated from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor 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 vocational 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
Safe House Advocate
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.
Jacki was born and raised in Amarillo but moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and worked in Utah for a short time. She met her husband in high school and they reconnected at BYU and got married. They loved their time in Utah but were excited at the opportunity to move back home, closer to family and friends. Jacki quickly found her new work family with FSS and has loved working here.
Jacki enjoys cooking, reading, keeping up with college football and the NBA (thanks to her sports-loving husband), and shopping. She loves Brene Brown, essential oils, and a good documentary. She believes in taking care of the world we have and makes efforts to be environmentally friendly.
Jacki is conscious of the world around her. She loves to travel and experience new cultures and places. When she can’t travel the world, she also likes to engage with people closer to home. She is particularly interested in working with the refugee and immigrant populations. She recognizes the many doors that have been opened in her life and wishes to help those who have not experienced the same opportunities. She loves and cares deeply for the people in her life, and desires to make a positive impact on every individual she encounters.
Facilities Maintenance Technician
It was in 1967 that Vaughn, an Airforce brat, became an Amarillo citizen. He graduated from Palo Duro High in 1976. He attended Texas a & M University and the University of Michigan. He completed his degree in Mathematics at Eastern Michigan University. After serving in the Army for over 10 years Vaughn returned to Amarillo. He worked as a carpenter and surveyor. In his free time , Vaughn enjoys white water rafting, camping, repelling, and mountain biking. He is a value to the Safe house and always there to fix anything and willing to lend a helping hand.
Housing Case Manager
Adam is a Housing Case Manager. He comes from Dumas, Texas where he was born and raised. Adam attended West Texas A&M University where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
Before joining the Family Support Services team, Adam several years for an agency that assisted victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In his time with FSS, he has worked as an Advocate and Case Manager at our Safe House. He is excited to use his previous knowledge and experience to further his passion for empowering and advocating for men, women, children, and families in our housing program.
In Adam’s spare time, he loves playing tennis, going to the movies, traveling, and being with his friends and family. He loves to explore new places and meet new people. Adam has been with Family Support Services for a short time, but is excited for the opportunity to be a part of our agency and looks forward to continuing to learn and be a change in the world.
“To save a life is to save all of humanity.”
Jacob Gillette was born in El Paso and grew up in Allen, Texas where football and baseball were life. He completed his undergrad at West Texas A& M University in Fine Arts with a minor in Sociology. Jake is currently working on his Master’s Degree in LPC Counseling at Colorado Christian University. Struggled all his life with learning difficulties, decided he had no time to mope, and worked harder.
Hearing other’s stories and being apart of them is one of Jakes’s passions. Cooking different cuisine is another passion that allows Jake to connect to others. Jake’s View of life is an adventure, even though it isn’t always what we want it is lush with new experiences that take us on a new path. Negativity only begets negativity one has to push beyond the mess to be successful.
Safe House PRN Advocate
Vanessa works as a fulltime Grant Manager for the City of Amarillo. She also has numerous years of experience in case management targeted in housing homeless Veterans and housing assistance. She believes that her career, resources and personal experiences can assist families and individuals through Family Support Services during their trial times and unto healthy self-sufficiency. Vanessa has a passion for helping others, she believes that everyone deserves someone who cares and a helping hand. Everyone has an experience to tell and a story to share that should be heard. If it weren’t for the trial, there would be no testimony.
In her spare time, she loves to spend her time with her family watching movies and doing activities. She also has a passion for DIY’s which she loves to incorporate in her household or any given opportunity.
She would like to remind those who are in a trying time to remember the quote by Nelson Mandela; “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Emergency Housing Services Advocate
After several years abroad, JoAnna finally returned to her native Amarillo after completing graduate degrees in Traditional Craft from the University of Tsukuba in Japan. Continuing to work in International Education since her return, she is excited to now work with Family Support Services as an advocate so that she may be of service in the local community. She enjoys assisting others find resources and hone skills to create an environment in their life for growth and empowerment in order to fulfill their goals as best they see fit.
When not at work as an advocate, JoAnna works remotely as a Japanese-English translator, continues to create art, and wrangles a pack of moderately angry chihuahuas.
Safe House Advocate
Tania Fuentes is the evening Safe House Advocate. The proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, she was born and raised in Amarillo, Texas. Tania attended West Texas A& M University in Canyon, Texas where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice- Corrections. She was also an intern with the Potter County Probation Department, where her passion for helping others grew even more.
While attending Palo Duro High School she was randomly put in a Law Enforcement Class as one of her electives, it was there where her passion to help others started. Growing up on the North Side of Amarillo she saw the need in her community to help those who were often overlooked based on the side of town they lived in. Being Bilingual she felt she would be a great asset to help her community. That is why she decided to pursue her degree in Criminal Justice so she could be a voice to those who needed it the most.
In her free time, she enjoys reading as well as traveling with friends and family and making new memories. She is a kid at heart, she loves anything Spongebob and Superhero related, especially Batman.
Psalms 46:5 “God is within her, she will not fall.”
Safe House Advocate
Tiffany is a part-time Safe House Advocate, she works full time at Amarillo Association of Realtors, she will have her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University in December 2020. She will be pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at the Univesity of Kentucky.
She enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies, and playing board games. Tiffany loves to listen to other people’s stories about their lives and culture. She also loves to learn new recipes.
“The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it” – Debbi FIelds
Mary has served in the field of human services for the past 20 years. Mary has a Bachelor of Social Work from Northwestern State University and registered in the State of Louisiana. Mary obtained a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Play Therapy from Capella University in 2016 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2019. Mary worked as a Clinical Associate from 2016 to 2019 at the Autism Diagnostic Center & Envision Counseling Services. Mary held the position of Career and College Coach for Education Services of America from 2012 to 2016. Mary held the position of Social Worker at the Amarillo Independent School District from 2009-2012. She also held the position as a Children’s case manager, Adult Case Manager, and Advocate Supervisor, at the Providence House shelter for homeless families with children in Shreveport, LA from 2001 to 2009 and again in 2012 as Domestic Violence Program Coordinator in 2012. Finally holding a position on the Providence House Board of Directors from 2013 to 2017.
Mary views the helping relationship as a partnership in a process in which there is a mutual understanding, by which the approach to this understanding is client-center. As the helper giving genuine assistance and unconditional positive regard while creating a trusting relationship. Keeping in mind the problem is the problem and not the client. Engaging in the process of healing and revitalizing the quality of life on behalf of the client.
“Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” —Friedrich Nietzsche—
Ginsberg the Advocat
We are pleased to introduce Ginsberg the Advocat! Ginsberg has called the Safe House his home for about 4 months now. This friendly kitty likes to spend his days climbing trees, snacking on treats, and loving on clients and staff. His fluff and charm have assisted in de-escalating many a crisis and soothed some aching hearts. The Safe House is proud to have this sweet feline as a member of our team!