New SHEM director has local roots

Sharon King has been serving as Sweet Home Emergency Ministries executive director since April 15.

For the past three years, she and her husband, Angel Gallegos, have been raising Great Dane puppies.

“We’ve always wanted big dogs,” she said. “I was an only child and never got to have pets at all. I swore someday, I’d have a big dog.”

They have six adult dogs, one for each of their children, she said.

Her family lives between Lebanon and Sweet Home, she said. She has lived in the area off and on all her life. Her father, Daniel King, pastor at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, was in the Army, and the family moved often.

Her extended family also lives in the area. Her husband is from Eugene.

“I knew this was the place I wanted to settle,” she said.

She and her husband have both studied at the University of Oregon, she said.

She has an associate of arts degree in psychology and has four classes left to finish her bachelor’s degree.

A friend told her about the opening at SHEM, she said. The dog business was the family’s only income, and she was interested in finding work.

Her husband is content at home with the children, she said. He doesn’t need much social contact, but she does, which made the job appealing.

She also believes in the work that SHEM does.

“Thirteen years ago, I was a single mom, and I had no place to go but the HOPE Center,” she said. She had one son and was pregnant with her second and the HOPE Center probably saved her.

This job is a way for her to give back, she said. “This has been the best experience I’ve ever had aside from my family and children.

“I like to watch the community pull together as quickly and efficiently as possible to meet the needs of their own.”

What she had seen in the past with organized religion was segregation, she said.

Working this job, she has seen that Catholics, Mennonites, Methodists, Baptists and more can all come together.

“There’s so many organized churches who are willing to put aside their differences to make sure nobody goes hungry,” she said.

“After 29 years, that’s still (SHEM’s) first and foremost goal.”