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.

Michelle Shields

Michelle Shields

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.

Hannah Finkenbinder

Hannah Finkenbinder

Safe House Manager

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.

Lisa Marie Perdue

Lisa Marie Perdue

Case Manager, Legal Advocate, CPS Advocate

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.

Susan Nottingham

Susan Nottingham

Hotline Interventionist

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

Brenda Talamantes

Brenda Talamantes

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 Welch

Jacki Welch

Case Manager- Transitional

Jacki Welch recently returned to the Texas Panhandle and found her new work family with FSS. She was born and raised here, but left for a few years to attend Brigham Young University. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and worked in Utah for a short while. She met her husband in high school and they got married while finishing their college education. They are thrilled to be back home and closer to their families and friends.

Jacki and her husband love to travel and experience new cultures and places. When they can’t travel the world, they also like to engage with people closer to home. They are particularly interested in working with the refugee and immigrant populations.

Jacki enjoys cooking, reading, keeping up with the NBA and college football (thanks to her husband), and shopping. She also makes efforts to be environmentally friendly, and persuade friends and family to do likewise.

Jacki is conscious of the world around her. She recognizes the many doors that have been opened in her life, and longs 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.

Vaughn Worcester

Vaughn Worcester

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.

Adam Aguayo

Adam Aguayo

Case Manager

Adam is a Safe House PRN Advocate. He comes from Dumas, Texas where he was born and raised. Adam attended Amarillo College where he obtained his A.S. in Psychology. He then transferred to West Texas A&M University and received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Before joining the Family Support Services team, Adam worked for Safe Place, Inc. in Dumas over a span of 6 years. In that time, he worked as a Shelter Advocate, was an intern, and worked as the Administrative Assistant. His very first job was working at Safe Place. Fresh out of high school, one of his professors “forced” Adam to apply to the agency. His professor asked him to only pick up an application, but little did Adam know that there was an interview waiting for him when he arrived. Adam had no knowledge or experience when it came to working with victims of abuse, but the people in his life knew it was his calling before he did.

Adam had always wanted to relocate to a bigger city. It wasn’t until recently that he had the opportunity that called him to Amarillo and Family Support Services. 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 need.

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 continue to learn and be a change in the world.

“To save a life is to save all of humanity.”

Jacob Gillette

Jacob Gillette

Hotline Interventionist

Jacob Gillette , also known as Jake (not from State Farm), was born in El Paso and grew up in Allen, Texas. he started college at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) then transferred to West Texas A& M University to finish his degree in Fine Arts with a minor in Sociology. Jake is currently working on his Master’s Degree in LPC Counseling at Colorado Chrisitan University.

During his free time, Jake loves to create art, chill with friends, and cook. He also enjoys working out, along with playing and watching basketball. The Portland Trailblazers are his favorite team. Traveling is also another great passion of Jake’s. He has traveled to Hong Kong for two weeks exploring the culture and experiencing eating excellent street food. Three years ago, Jake traveled to the United Kingdom for two weeks, driving from London through Scotland. For his next adventure, Jake hopes to see Japan and all the little villages and the Tokyo craziness. 

Claudia Correa

Claudia Correa

Emergency Housing Advocate

Claudia Correa is a part-time Safe House Advocate, Claudia graduated from Garden City High School in Garden City, Kansas where she was born and raised. Claudia moved to Amarillo, Texas 8 years ago with her four children. Claudia continued her education at Amarillo College majoring in Business Management, along with a Business Management Marketing Certificate. Claudia’s past employment history has been in Human Resources. Claudia currently works full-time as a Receptionist at Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle. Claudia loves to spend time with her four amazing children and two beautiful grandchildren who are her strength, peace, and happiness.

Claudia being a survivor herself believes that being heard, believed, having a safe place to go, and having a strong support team to counsel and guide you in the right direction to provide you with the resources to help you become strong independently is the key to making a victim’s life into a success story. Claudia believes it’s her life purpose is to be a part of our team at Family Support Services where she feels she can make a difference.

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14 

Vanessa Robinson

Vanessa Robinson

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.”

Elena Vargas

Elena Vargas

806 Acts Case Manager

Elena has a background in crisis, direct services, and trauma care. Elena graduated from West Texas A&M University with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work and a minor in Art. Elena has worked in many Social Work roles and many areas here in the Texas Panhandle. Elena specializes in human behavior in the social environment and human behavior in the personal environment as well as mental health and wellness. 

Elena was born and raised in Amarillo and has a miniature family of herself and her daughter (puppy) Sophia whom she loves and spends her spare time with.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only like can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” MLK

Zack Keenan

Zack Keenan

Safe House Advocate

Zack was raised most of his life in Amarillo and graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Film & Electronic Media. Zack loves spending his free time helping others out and is an avid personal trainer/wellness coach.

Bailee Porter

Bailee Porter

Safe House Advocate

Bailee comes from the small town of Dumas, Texas. However, she is from a big family. She changed her life from being a business owner to being in the business of helping people. She is beginning the path to acquiring her degree in social work.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” -Albus Dumbledore

Karli Roberts

Karli Roberts

Safe House Advocate

Karli was born and raised in Pampa, TX and moved to Amarillo to pursue an undergraduate degree in Psychology at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU). A few years after graduating in 2016 she began her Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), which she obtained in February of 2020. She has a passion to help others no matter the situation and believes everyone has the right to be heard and make a difference in this world. Karli is so excited to be working with Family Support Services as an advocate for individuals in need.

When Karli is not working, she is spending time with her family and two Australian shepherds (Alaska & Sven), watching Harry Potter, and listening to podcasts. She loves traveling and hiking in Palo Duro Canyon with her husband and two pups. Karli loves going to the beach, where she can relax in the sun and the sand.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends” -Albus Dumbledore

Ginsberg

Ginsberg

The Advocat!

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! 

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