Crisis center honors Trumbull woman as volunteer of the year

The Center for Family Justice has named Sheila Hageman, a Trumbull resident, its 2022 Beatrice Boucher Volunteer of the Year.

The Center for Family Justice has named Sheila Hageman, a Trumbull resident, its 2022 Beatrice Boucher Volunteer of the Year.

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TRUMBULL — Sheila Hageman has long been passionate about helping people find their voice.

Hageman, 51, of Trumbull is an adjunct writing professor at Post University in Waterbury. She’s also an accomplished writer herself and has frequently written about women and women’s issues. But she wanted to do more.

“I was really interested in working with women, working with children and working with survivors of sexual violence in general,” Hageman said.

She got her chance recently with a clinical internship with the Center for Family Justice, a Bridgeport-based crisis center that provides counseling, shelter and other services to more than 4,200 adult and child victims of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse. As a result of her work, Hageman was named the Center for Family Justice’s 2022 Beatrice Boucher Volunteer of the Year.

The award is given annually to honor the late Beatrice Boucher, a Trumbull resident, who served the Center for Family Justice as a volunteer for more than a decade.

During her internship, Hageman provided therapeutic counseling services to children and teens who had experienced the trauma of domestic and sexual violence and abuse. Each year, the center works with more than 200 children who have experienced extreme abuse and provides them with free clinical services to help them overcome their trauma.

Those Hageman helped ranged in age from 4 to 17, but Hageman said she also offered counseling to parents, particularly mothers, of the traumatized children.

“A lot of times, I would find secondary victims, usually moms, have had similar trauma” that was unearthed or triggered by the child’s experience, Hageman said.

Though her clinical work was impressive, it’s just part of what earned her the Volunteer of the Year award, said Debra A. Greenwood, the Center for Family Justice’s president and CEO.

“What really stood out about Sheila was her constant interest in doing more than what was expected to make the futures of the young people she works with brighter,” Greenwood said in a written statement. “As an intern she was outstanding, but it was the service she provided beyond her required clinical hours that really set her apart.”

Specifically, Hageman started two programs while at the center — the Written Out Loud group, which engaged teenage abuse survivors in a year-long writing project with culminated with them producing published manuscripts, and a homework help club. The latter, Hageman said, came about because she noticed her teenaged clients often struggled in school.

Hageman said she put on her teacher hat and came up with an informal group that allowed students to meet once a week and get help with their studies.

“It was kind of the support of sitting with them and being there while they did their homework that really helped,” she said.

In addition to her job at Post, her internship and her role as a mother to three children, Hageman also went to school and recently got a masters of science in counseling and human services from Post. Hageman said her hope is to continue working with the center and her young clients.

“At 51, I’ve had a few careers and worked at a lot of places,” she said. “(The center is) truly one of the most supportive environments I’ve ever worked in.”