Michelle Shonbeck

How did you first become involved with the counseling center?

I am a 30+ year member of St. Luke’s Methodist Church, so I was familiar with the vision and idea when NFCC was first established, and I had always heard great things about it. Former board member Linda Christians introduced me to the executive director and clinical team, and NFCC in general. I was very impressed with Mary Elizabeth’s leadership, and I joined the advisory board for one year. I always want to support St. Luke’s. I am the Executive Director of Christian Community Service Center (CCSC), which was also an outgrowth of St. Luke’s, so I have an affinity for organizations my church birthed!

You serve on the board of the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center Foundation, which was established in 2020. Why is the foundation so important to NFCC’s success?

The Foundation board is focused on a fundraising strategy and overall stewardship to aid in NFCC’s success. Because NFCC is a ministry of a church, foundations and the community can be reluctant to provide grants because they want to give to nonprofits that are separate 501c3 organizations from religious organizations. The year I was on the advisory board, there was talk about creating a separate 501c3 so that NFCC could receive increased community funding. It was a smart decision made by the advisory board and it allows NFCC’s advisory board to focus in on being exceptional at what they do, while the foundation board focuses on strategy and stewardship.

You have supported our Because Counseling Matters Fund every year since it was started. Why do you continue to support NFCC; specifically this fund, which provides general support for NFCC to use where it is most needed?

As a professional in the nonprofit community, I believe you should support the annual fund if you trust in the mission and the leadership. You want the leadership of a nonprofit to allocate undesignated money where it is needed most. Your staff leadership is going to know where those needs are, and it is better for an organization to have unrestricted support to go where it is most needed. I believe that if you are going to give to a nonprofit, you should give undesignated dollars because they have the greatest impact. I specifically give to NFCC’s Because Counseling Matters Fund because I believe in the importance of accessible mental health in our society.

You work for another Houston nonprofit and have a unique understanding of the needs of our community. Why do you think access to mental healthcare is so important to the health and success of our community?

Mental health intersects all aspects of our lives, including our personal and professional relationships. It affects an individual’s ability not just to maintain a job but also to have one in the first place. My organization works with helping people find a job. Mental health helps you flourish in your job and your relationships. It helps people be resilient in the ups and downs in their lives.

As we saw during the pandemic, there is a growing need for mental health needs and NFCC is a great organization that can address that because NFCC serves a broad swath of our community.