Rachel Sheridan: paying it forward
Some people don’t know how to say no, and while it can be considered a bad thing, Rachel Sheridan embraces it.
“The word ‘no’ is not in my vocabulary,” she said with a laugh when confronted with the long list of clubs and charities she’s involved with. “It’s just how I was raised.”
Sheridan, a 31-year-old Summerville native, divides her time between nine different organizations.
Professionally, she works full time as the regional director at AllCare Living Services, Inc., all while running her own business, KenChelle Photography.
But if two jobs aren’t enough, Sheridan also serves as the president of the Summerville Evening Rotary Club and the Kappa Alpha Theta Charleston Lowcountry Alumnae Chapter, the community service chair of the Junior Service League, the auction chair for Children in Crisis, and works on the Dancing with the ARK Stars committee, organizes events for the Alzheimer’s Association, and serves the Girl Scouts locally as a travel volunteer.
While that list would make some peoples’ heads spin, Sheridan doesn’t think anything of it.
“I’ve always been really involved with community service. It’s nothing new,” she said.
Sheridan’s community service experience goes way back; she was a “candy striper” hospital volunteer in high school and attended Wofford College on community service scholarships.
For her, it all has to do with helping people.
“I’m very willing to put others before myself.”
Sheridan has planned on dedicating her life to helping others since childhood, when she aspired to grow up and become a vet. In college, she changed her mind and majored in psychology. She’s been working with AllCare, a provider of in-home care services, since 2008.
She said that while the helping element of the job wasn’t what initially attracted her to the company, it’s what’s made her stay.
“I’ve always known I want to do something with helping others. I love helping the families through the difficult times, so they know they’re not alone, she said.
“On multiple levels, we’ve [the employees] all had something make a connection for us.”
For Sheridan, that connection dates back to 2007, when her fiancé Brandon Thompson died fighting the fire at the Sofa Super Store in Charleston. The accident happened just four months before their wedding was scheduled.
Glimpses of Sheridan’s love for Thompson can be seen throughout her life, particularly in her running and her photography business.
“The last Christmas present I ever got from Brandon was a professional camera,” she said. She named her business after their relationship, blending his and her middle name to create “KenChelle.”
When she has a spare moment, Sheridan is out running, a pastime she also attributes to Thompson.
“Running is a way to have peace,” she said. “It’s a way to reflect, and a way to continue honoring not just Brandon, but all of the firefighters who died.”
This November Sheridan will run the ING New York City Marathon for the Leary Firefighters Foundation, just one way she is “paying it forward” to the firefighting community.
But as much as she loves to travel, Sheridan enjoys staying in the Lowcountry and giving back at home.
“There’s such a need everywhere, but there’s as much of a need here as there is anywhere else.”
Her workload would start to weigh on an average person, but Sheridan is on the rise, seeking out new ways to make a larger community impact.
“I’d like to find a way to continue on a bigger scale, but figuring out exactly which area to focus on hasn’t happened yet,” she said.
But when she does decide where to make her mark, it can be expected she’ll do it quietly, behind the scenes: “There’s enough warm and fuzzy when I do something that I don’t feel like I need recognition.”