Meet Shannon Gurule, HR Coordinator

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We have a lot of new faces around the office these days. Shannon Gurule (pronounced “guru-lay”) joined our team this week as our new HR Coordinator. To learn more about Shannon, please see a quick Q&A below.

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
Alma Mater: University of Northern Colorado
Degree/Major: Liberal Arts – Classical Music
What excites you about your new position? I am graduating with my Masters in Human Resources in August, so I am really excited to be able to apply all of my knowledge to my daily work; and after being here a week, I’m really excited about all the hard work people put into doing something great for the community!
Why is your job so important to Families First? My job is to do my absolute best to get the best staff for Families First so that we can provide the best services!
Best advice your mom ever gave you: Whenever I was stressed out she’d always say: “Don’t cry darling, this too shall pass…” and that always kept it in perspective for me…she’s a good mom.
Spouse/Kids/Pets: Husband-Curtis, Jazz Musician/Legal Assistant/Engineering Student
Dream Job: HR Manager or Director
Hobbies: I love to travel, every year I try to fill my passport with a new stamp. Last year was Paris and Italy…
What is your favorite restaurant in Atlanta?  LaParilla (I love Mexican food)
Favorite quote: “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” –Morgan Freeman (Shawshank Redemption)
First paying job: Grocery Bagger at the Commissary (Military Grocery Store) Ft. Carson, CO, 15 years old.
What is one thing you couldn’t live without? POPCORN (no, really, I love popcorn)
Do you sit on any local boards/committees for other organizations or volunteer anywhere? I hope to after I graduate.

Wishlist Wednesday


At Families First we often hear from community members, partners and volunteers who are looking for ways to help but don’t always have the time or money it takes to make a positive impact. Based on your feedback, we have developed an opportunity that gives every person, regardless of age or income, the ability to do something for families in need.

Our new social media initiative, “Wishlist Wednesday” kicks off today, June 18, 2014. Each month we’ll focus on a theme and ask for specific donations around that theme on Wednesdays. Here is an example of how it would work:

Monthly Theme: Back to School
Wishlist Wednesday, Week 1 – Crayons and/or Markers
Wishlist Wednesday, Week 2 – Pencils and/or pencil pouches
Wishlist Wednesday, Week 3 – Backpacks
Wishlist Wednesday, Week 4 – Calculators 

We will post our “Wishlist Wednesday” item of the week every Wednesday morning on our Facebook and Twitter pages and our Midtown office will accept those donations throughout that week. The items that are donated will be given directly to families in need within our community.  

It’s was our goal to create an opportunity that would fit any budget and work with everyone’s schedule, while giving individuals, families and groups the chance to give back to their community. We also hope that you will share these posts with your social media network so that our reach can increase to others in our city. It’s basic math; the more items we collect, the more families we can serve. We hope that this opportunity excites you as much as it does the staff of Families First and we can’t wait to share the successes of this initiative with you in the future. 

If you’d like further information about the Wishlist Wednesday initiative, please contact Ashley Uffner at 404-853-2857 or To find out more about our organization, please visit

Meet Chena Blanchard, Adoption Program Manager

We have a new face in the Adoption department and she’s off and running already! Chena joined the Families First team recently and we wanted to give our friends the opportunity to take a quick look into who she is and what motivates her.
Name: Chena Blanchard

Hometown: Born in Texas but moved around a lot as a child

College/University attended: Georgia State University (Undergrad) and Richmont Graduate University (Graduate)
Degree/Major: Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in Children and Adolescents
What excites you about your new position? Learning more about international and domestic adoptions
Why is your job so important to Families First? I will be helping children have families to care for and care about them
What is one thing you already love about Families First? Being able to walk and get lunch!
What is your favorite book? I have too many favorites to narrow it down to one
Worst food you’ve ever tasted? I am not a picky eater and so there is not much that I don’t eat or don’t like, however I don’t like to eat onions. 
Spouse/Kids: I’m married and we have four amazing children!
Dream Job: Retirement
Hobbies: Reading, watching movies (new and old) and sleeping
One thing we’d be surprised to know about you: My husband and I could have been empty-nesters but instead started over again so we have two older kids (26 and 23) and two younger kids (12 and 8).
Favorite quote: “It is what it is”
First paying job: Selling pet honey bees to neighborhood kids as a child. First “real” paying job was at a daycare center. 
Do you sit on any local boards/committees for other organizations? I sit on the Advisory Board at Georgia MENTOR
If you’d like to learn more about the work that Families First does in adoption, please visit 

Meet Ashley Uffner, Volunteer Coordinator

Ashley Uffner is the new Volunteer Coordinator at Families First and we liked her so much, we wanted to be sure you got the chance to know her as well!

Ashley Uffner

Hometown: Born in Ridgewood, New Jersey but grew up in Marietta, Georgia.

College/University attended: Kennesaw State University

Degree/Major: Bachelor of Science in Communication

What excites you about your new position? One of my passions is volunteering so I love being able to work with people that share in that passion. It’s a great feeling to be able to connect people with volunteer opportunities that are important to them while helping others in need.

Why is your job so important to Families First? Volunteers are the lifeline of a nonprofit organization! They play a huge part in helping us serve our clients through programs like Adopt-A-Family.

What is one thing you already love about Families First? I love that everyone is passionate about their job and the end goal of why we are all here at Families First.

What is your favorite book? The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Worst food you’ve ever tasted: Saimin – a traditional Hawaiian dish

Spouse/pets: I am a newlywed! I married my husband, Brandon, in October 2013. We have 2 dogs – Ella and Darcy.

Dream job: This job! And maybe a little race car driving on the side.

Hobbies: I love going to concerts, hiking new trails and spending time with my family.

One thing people don’t know about you: I am addicted to sugar!

Favorite quote: “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”  –Henry David Thoreau

First paying job: Hostess at a restaurant

Do you volunteer anywhere? I volunteer at the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Atlanta Pet Rescue.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Families First or would like more information about our organization, please visit To contact Ashley directly about volunteer opportunities, please call 404-853-2857 or email