Volunteer Spotlight: Sheryl Embler
July 7, 2020
Photo: Here is Sheryl at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, January 2018
“Education, compassion, empathy and understanding. These ideals put into action inspire me daily.”
Sheryl Embler has served as a volunteer survivor advocate for MCRCC since November of 2015. She grew up in South San Diego, Imperial Beach, California. Sheryl is a certified massage therapist, specializing in Thai Massage therapy, Sports massage and Geriatric massage. She also works as a substitute teacher for MPUSD. We are incredibly fortunate to have her on our team of volunteers.
We reached out to Sheryl with some questions, and here is what she told us:
MCRCC: Could you talk about any life experiences that have inspired you?
Sheryl: Wow, that’s a tough one!
My entire childhood geared me for this kind of work. I’ve been mostly inspired throughout my life by teachers, educators and therapists who saw the best in me, who encouraged me and believed in my ability to amount to something. Coming from a disadvantaged household, where neither parent was a high school graduate, was difficult. My parents didn’t value education and often derided educated people, I assume out of fear of being seen as inadequate. When I enrolled in college my mother actually said to me, “Why do you want to go to college just to become an educated idiot?!” This was the level of support home offered, so school became my haven. I find the same level of loving support here at MCRCC and love being part of the mission here. Education, compassion, empathy and understanding. These ideals put into action inspire me daily.
MCRCC: What led you to become an Advocate?
Sheryl: I have been interested in advocacy for many years. Like many, I grew up in a dysfunctional home with mental, physical and even sexual abuse. I decided as an adult to do whatever I could do personally to help others navigate through the hell we grew up in. If one person is helped by my advocacy, that’s a win in my eyes. One less victim, one more survivor.
MCRCC: Could you talk about any challenges or rewards related to the volunteer work you have done with MCRCC?
Sheryl: It’s very rewarding to me to see even a faint smile on the face of a survivor during a SART exam. To help them feel empowered and know that they did nothing to warrant what happened to them. When they look into your eyes and see empathy, understanding, love and compassion instead of blame and shame, it’s a beautiful thing out of an ugly experience. It’s helping these people take back their personal power, and that feels good.
The challenges come into play when I have to allow a child to return to the home where they were made unsafe and I have no power to stop it. I pray and ask the divine and CPS to handle it.
MCRCC: What are some other things you love to do, hobbies or interests?
Sheryl: I love hiking and long beach walks through the dunes and along the shore. I love weaving baskets, making body scrubs, baking and cooking, and gardening. I adore learning new things: new massage techniques, macrame knot tying and painting.
Most of all I LOVE travel, both domestic and international. Road trips are a favorite!
I’m very blessed to be spending Shelter-In-Place with my entire immediate family. My husband Joe, daughters Erin and Elsa, and my son Joey. We are joined by our wonderful pets: Skip, a 5 lb Maltese dog, and two cats, Pixi and TJ.
To combat some of the isolating affects of COVID, we implemented a plan where each family member has an hour to 90 minutes, one day a week, for a family project. I lead meditation and sound healing on Monday evenings, Joe reads the Hobbit aloud to us, Elsa teaches us pole dancing, Erin plays the guitar or shows us an interesting film, Joey has us do art. It’s a fun way to reconnect and share our talents with each other and continue to grow while sheltering in place. We also spend a lot of time outdoors in fresh air and sunlight in our protected backyard, take walks at the nearby beach and stay home as much as possible.