Remembering Cheree O’Shields
The entire YouthLink community is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Cheree O’Shields, an insightful, sensitive, intelligent woman with a deep passion for helping young people experiencing homelessness through her gifts, talents, and expertise in nursing and healthcare.
Our journey with Cheree at YouthLink began more than 20 years when she came to the drop-in center – then known as Project Offstreets – for basic-need services to escape the trauma from living on the streets. Her journey through homelessness was difficult; however, her resilience, determination, and hope for the future and her child prevailed. She eventually entered nursing school, graduated, and pursued her Ph.D., while continuing to provide healthcare services to young people experiencing homelessness.
Cheree received the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing Sophia Award in 2016, a grant given to a Ph.D. or DNP nursing student whose research aims to address population-focused problems. Partnering with Youthlink on her project, “Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy Among Homeless Youth,” she focused on identifying barriers, increasing knowledge, improving access to contraceptive methods, and contraceptive counseling for homeless youth. Cheree also continued her work to develop sex education training sessions geared toward youth in the drop-in.
More important than any specific job title, though, Cheree possessed an incredible heart full of love and an unyielding commitment to give back to the community where she found support at a critical time in her life when she needed hope, support, and guidance for the future. She was a kind and tireless advocate for young people experiencing the devastating trauma of homelessness.
Deepest sympathies, prayers and thoughts are extended from YouthLink to the family of Cheree O’Shields — her husband, children, the homeless youth serving community, and friends.
Cheree was quoted in an article the University of Minnesota published about a project she was conducting with young people at YouthLink: “You can’t make smart decisions about your life without information.” YouthLink is forever changed as a result of the priceless information Cheree O’Shields leaves to us on what it truly means to “pay it forward” in life.
We honor, celebrate and cherish the life and legacy of Cheree O’Shields – she has authored a significant chapter in the history of YouthLink and the youth community.