Amber Finnicum-Simmons, Stetson University
Amber Finnicum-Simmons, a junior Psychology major at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, is a tireless advocate for low-income families and persons who are homeless. As a member of Stetson’s Bonner Program, Amber has volunteered with The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia for three years, beginning as a client assistant and food pantry organizer, then as a volunteer recruiter and coordinator, and now as a fundraiser and member of the organization’s Board of Directors with Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) certification. Beyond her work at The Neighborhood Center, Amber has taken significant leadership roles with our campus Bonner Program – opportunities that allow Amber to mentor 60 other student civic leaders, train them to develop additional professional and leadership skills, and find ways to integrate their academic and career goals with meaningful needs in our community. After she graduates, Amber intends to attend the Master of Arts in Social Work program at University of California – Berkeley with a concentration in community mental health services. From there, Amber will seek a career as a case worker for mentally ill individuals who are homeless – continuing her work as an advocate committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness through counseling and support services.
-Wendy Libby, President
I currently sit on the Board of Directors for the Neighborhood Center of West Volusia and through the board I have been helping to build a new housing facility at the Neighborhood Center. For this expansion we need to raise $250,000, so the committee and I have been planning a large community fundraising event to earn the bulk of the money. Once we accomplish the fundraising, the housing expansion will allow us to return our current office spaces to emergency housing, as well as converting our thrift shoppe into additional emergency housing, raising our number of beds to nearly twice as much as we currently can accommodate. While this project is much more upper-level planning than I’ve ever been a part of, it has certainly provided me with a variety of executive skills, such as networking with diverse groups, communicating with senior professionals, and event management. These experiences, coupled with my academic studies in Psychology, will all help prepare me for a career in mental health counseling for individuals who are homeless.