Meet the Team – Michelle Shattuck

“Behind every grant application lies a story worth telling”

Meet Michelle Shattuck, who joined Amaanah Services as Grants Writer in March 2024.

“My first day at Amaanah was the best first day I’ve ever had at any job” explains Michelle, “Everyone was so personable and kind, I immediately felt like I was part of the team and part of the family”.

With a young daughter and husband, family is of primary importance to Michelle. Her dad was born and raised in Chile, and he moved to Venezuela as a young adult. He was working as a software engineer when he met Michelle’s mom, who was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela.

“My dad worked for Oracle, so he travelled a lot for his job. First Australia then to the USA when I was 3 months old. In Miami, my mom had no English, few friends, two young girls to raise, she felt alone, unsure – she represents so many of the clients I have worked with”, explains Michelle.

As a teenager, Michelle fell in with a crowd who were making bad choices. Her parents were getting divorced and Michelle sought attention outside her home. She met a lot of people outside regular walks of life. Her path could have taken a permanent wrong turn at this point.

“Looking back, I think if someone had noticed me, or listened, I might have got through that period a lot quicker” she explains. “I saw that early interventions could make the difference between life and death, especially for adolescents and teenagers.”

The realization spurred Michelle on. She was determined to be someone who could make a difference. Working for the FBI became her lifelong dream. At college she did her BA in Victim Studies, with a minor in Forensic Science.

“I took a class in child abuse and neglect and my professor had us listen to recorded 911 calls from real people. It was really hard to listen to, and many had to leave the classroom. That was okay, this work is not for everyone. I stayed. I listened to calls about domestic violence, sexual abuse, trafficking. I thought ‘if I cannot sit through their stories, then who will?’”

On graduating, she applied for roles first at Child Protection Services and then Adult Protection Services but was turned away because she didn’t have experience. She applied to AmeriCorps Vista and was placed at the Alliance in Houston to help build capacity.

She stayed there for five years, working directly with clients and families. Her responsibilities grew, until she was organizing multiple programs to provide support to refugees.

“At the Alliance I had a team of staff, many clients and responsibilities. I did grant writing in minutes I snatched out of a busy day focused on other priorities.”

Grant writing can be a roller coaster – a submission may languish for months, or be declined almost immediately.  The first time one of her grant applications was awarded was a big deal – “it’s such a rush of validation and dopamine – I thought maybe I can do this”.

With changes to her work environment, and the departure of a much-admired mentor, Michelle was ready for a new challenge. A friend referred her for the Grant Writer role at Amaanah, and she met the team.

“I’ve been here almost 3 months, and I’m so impressed with operations here” she explains. “Days after I was hired, I went to help out at the Ramadan Food Relief event. It ran the smoothest I’d ever seen. We served over 300 families within 4 hours. The volunteers worked together so well, they knew what to do, didn’t need instructions, there was such a strong sense of teamwork, we were all pulling towards a common purpose.”

Michelle has spent time getting to know the team, asking questions, taking time to understand each role, the different programs and their value to clients. She is seeking new ways to impact refugee communities and has many ideas.

“Every successful grant application is founded on a story worth telling,” she says, “I’m not here to change your political affiliation, I’m here to share insights from these communities, to create a compassionate viewpoint, and to show you where you can help.”


If you want to help Michelle and support Amaanah’s programs, make a donation today.

  • “Every successful grant application is founded on a story worth telling. I’m here to share insights from these communities, to create a compassionate viewpoint, and to show you where you can help.” Michelle Shattuck

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