Sharon Charters has made a career of connecting people to services and programs, charities to resources, and community partnerships to work together on common concerns. A Mohawk College and McMaster University graduate, she has shared her insights with social service worker students for over a decade. Sharon has served on the boards of many organizations including Wesley Community Homes, the Hamilton Non-Profit Housing Corporation and the Hamilton Mountain Legal Clinic.
As Grants Manager with Hamilton Community Foundation for the last 13 years, Sharon is particularly proud of her work to help citizens to play an active role in their neighbourhoods. In this position she had a role in planning, designing and implementing the Tackling Poverty Together initiative, a $8M commitment to addressing poverty in the City of Hamilton. She has also previously worked with a team to research, design and implement a Neighbourhood Granting Program which operated for 7 years and has since been integrated into the Neighbourhood Action Strategy.
If you could go back in time, what 1 piece of advice would you give to yourself on the first day of College?
Anxiety and stress are your enemies – keep them at bay by showing up for all classes, staying organized and on top of your assignments and studying. Mohawk has many great supports for students so don’t be afraid to reach out and use them. This time will go by very quickly so use every opportunity to learn and develop networking relationships that will carry you forward in your career.
What are you most passionate about professionally?
I am most passionate about being in a role that allows me to make connections that support good work going on in our community. Sometimes it’s about connecting projects to resources; sometimes it’s about connecting like-minded organizations, and sometimes it’s about connecting citizens to decision-making processes. The complexity of the issues facing us requires a heightened degree of collaboration and partnership to move forward.
If you could give advice to a new student thinking of entering your program, or a similar program, what would it be?
If you are at the “thinking” point, my suggestion would be to try and talk to people already working in the field you are considering. Volunteering is also a great way to get a better first-hand understanding of whether this field is the right one for you. If you decide it is, then go for it. Believe in yourself and make the commitment.
How has your education at Mohawk prepared and supported you throughout your career?
My experience at Mohawk College got me excited about learning again. I entered Mohawk through the Continuing Education program which was a small program that allowed for a lot of interaction between students and faculty. It helped me to build my confidence as well as my skills. As an instructor in the Social Service Worker Continuing Education program, I do my best to pass this on to today’s students.