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Robino-West is At Ease With Lutheran Family Services

Robino-West is At Ease With Lutheran Family Services

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

SONY DSCSharon Robino-West, who earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in Leadership through Bellevue University, recently had a written piece, Into the Unknown, read by actress Alfre Woodard during the Writers Guild Initiative in New York City. Robino-West, a military veteran, is the Program Director for At Ease with Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. Robino-West was recently interviewed and spoke about the WGI event, her University experience and her work with Lutheran Family Services and the At Ease program.

 Regarding the Writers Guild event in New York City, what was it like to have Alfre Woodard read your work? Were you able to attend the event? What was that experience like?

After recovering from the shock of hearing that my piece was selected and that Alfre Woodard would be reading it, I felt quite humbled and honored. I was able to attend the event, but I got word only about nine days before the fact, so I had to scramble to get there. I decided to Crowdrise to raise the money to go to the event. I did this for two reasons: because it is hard to come up with the money for something like this on short notice but more importantly, to show people that when there’s a will there’s a way. I was able to come up with the needed money for expenses due to some very generous friends and supporters, for which I am eternally grateful. The Crowdrise experience was a really fun part of the entire event, too. The event itself in NYC was amazing! It was very glamorous. I got to meet several of the actors who were reading, but more importantly got to meet several of the other veteran writers that I had not met previously. We had all written in different veteran and caregiver writing workshops, so I enjoyed getting to know a few of them better.

What are some of the key elements of the piece?

The title of the piece was called Into the Unknown.  My favorite thing about writing the piece was that I did something unconventional for me in past writing. I began with the end in mind. I wrote the last paragraph, and then worked backward from there. I think it felt that the strength of the writing was in making a statement about not fearing to move into the unknown, and to draw from the things you’d already overcome in your life. It is a piece about resilience. “Go for the long shot, like they say in football, and marathons. Go for the thing you fear the most…”

 What role does writing play in your life?

Writing has always been an important part of my life, more so as I work as a caregiver. I have always kept diaries and journals off and on, and entered poetry contests from time to time. I had a nonfiction short story published in a Military Experience and the Arts publication last May. I am also part of a Veteran Writing Workshop called Nebraska Warrior Writers. I find that writing, whether it is about my military experiences or other topics tends to keep me centered and requires the mindfulness that things like yoga or martial arts provide for other veterans and caregivers. Writing and photography. When you are working on developing a character in your writing or setting up a shot with a camera, you can’t do anything but focus on that moment and that task. It helps you forget other struggles or anxieties. It promotes mindfulness for sure.

 How has earning your Bellevue University degrees impacted your career?

Earning my degrees at Bellevue has been very important. It’s funny, but I think you don’t really realize how important the impact is until you get further down the road after graduating. When you see career success due to your degree, and skills success based on things you were taught, you realize what a good investment in yourself that a degree really is. I take pride in my decision to earn two degrees at Bellevue.

What did you enjoy the most about your Bellevue University experience?

I enjoyed all of my classes during my Marketing undergrad. I just love anything to do with the topic. Passionate persuasion about veterans is in my blood, and marketing skills serve me well in that passion. I did enjoy the Kirkpatrick Series, although not everyone does. I liked the chance to do the projects and debate different topics. I also enjoyed all of the people and networking relationships that I developed at Bellevue.

How difficult was it to juggle your school work and other responsibilities?

For me it really wasn’t that difficult. You have to be disciplined and work out a system that is realistic for you. I always worked at least one job and went to school as a single mom. That was just my routine until I graduated with both degrees. I didn’t know that I couldn’t do it. My mind was made up and my instructors worked with me as long as I let them know that I needed their assistance.

 What is your role at Lutheran Family Services? What do you enjoy most about it?

My role at LFS is the Program Manager for the At Ease Program. We provide therapeutic support for active duty, veterans and their loved ones. I oversee the program, work on grants and grant reporting, talk to the public on a daily basis, supervise an amazing team of peer specialists, clinicians and volunteers and get to be part of innovative programs for veterans, such as the new Veterans Block at the Douglas County Department of Corrections. I get to see miracles happen on a daily basis with our military members and their families and with those who support our military, like some of the translators who are now part of our community along with their families. Seeing everyone working together to heal each other and serving those who have served us most is the most enjoyable and rewarding part of the job for me. It allows me to continue my military service even today.

 What are your interests outside of work?

My interests outside of work are traveling with my husband and sons, doing crazy things like sky diving and road trips, photography and of course my writing. You can usually find me anywhere that isn’t too far from water or the outdoors.